How to Become an Electrician
Electricians install, repair and maintain electrical wiring and fixtures in homes, businesses, factories and other structures. They often work independently, but may also be part of a team, as they collaborate with other trades workers on large projects.
They are typically employed by construction companies, building maintenance departments or electrician contractors and are sometimes self-employed. Some have a specialized field of expertise, such as industrial machinery electricians who repair or maintain motors, transformers and generators.
The education needed to become an electrician varies by state. However, the educational requirement is usually a high school diploma or equivalent. Some states require a GED certificate and others require an apprenticeship program lasting four to five years before you can become licensed.
A typical apprenticeship program includes about 1,000 classroom hours and 2,000 on-the-job training hours. During this time, you learn how to work safely and efficiently on different types of electrical projects. Once you have completed your apprenticeship, you are ready to apply for licensure in your state and become a journeyman electrician.
You can also attend a trade school that teaches you the skills you need to become an electrician in a classroom setting. Trade schools are often located on campuses with labs where you can practice hands-on skills while you learn in a classroom environment from experienced teachers and peers.
During your coursework, you’ll learn about electrical theory and other technical subjects related to this career. You’ll also learn how to read and interpret blueprints, diagrams and other technical materials.
Once you’ve finished your trade school education, you can work as an apprentice or go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical technology. Depending on the state you live in, you may be able to take the national licensing exam after finishing your education.
An apprenticeship in this career typically lasts for four or five years, during which you’ll learn how to work safely and efficiently on a wide variety of electrical projects. After completing your apprenticeship, you’ll be a journeyman electrician and are likely to see your salary increase as you advance in your job.
Many trade schools have partnerships with local companies to provide a paid internship for students. During this internship, you’ll be supervised by an electrical contractor or other experienced professional in the trade.
Your day-to-day duties as an electrician are often repetitive, with a focus on troubleshooting problems and making repairs. These tasks involve a variety of skills, including color vision, critical thinking and communication abilities, physical strength and stamina for long periods of time, and a strong attention to detail.
You’ll also need to be physically capable of climbing ladders, crawling through dark basements and working on equipment that is difficult to access. In addition, you’ll need to be able to work well with others and communicate effectively when performing your duties.
You’ll be responsible for ensuring that all aspects of your job are carried out safely and efficiently. Your responsibilities include identifying any issues, recommending solutions and enforcing safety measures. You also need to make sure that your workplace is clean and safe, and you’re always wearing the proper safety equipment.