Becoming a skilled electrician may be easier than you realize. First, make sure you've earned your high school diploma. Next, complete a pre-apprenticeship electrician training program at a local trade, technical or vocational school. After that, register as an apprentice or trainee electrician in your state and complete a four- or five-year apprenticeship under the guidance of a master or journeyman* electrician. Finally, obtain your electrician's license or be certified by your state and/or municipality.
These are the basic steps to becoming an electrician. Of course, it is wise to study each step in greater detail so you know exactly what to expect.
You may not be able to progress further until you can prove that you have successfully completed high school or earned a GED or other type of equivalent certification. This is one of the most basic educational requirements you need to meet before you can become an electrician.
If you are still in high school, choose your courses carefully. Algebra and trigonometry are important because electricians use this type of math to measure wiring lengths, determine the angle of a circuit, and calculate the force of an electric current.
If you are an adult who has not completed high school, you can earn your high school diploma online. This is a convenient way to handle this important first step.
You will be able to learn about the National Electrical Code, workplace safety, electrical theory, and many other things that can put you ahead of others who may be applying for the same apprenticeship. In addition to regular classroom instruction, most trade school programs even include hands-on training. This way, you'll have a solid foundation when you take the next step in the process.
You can find local apprenticeships through the U.S. Department of Labor or by browsing newspaper classified ads and online job boards. In addition, electrical apprenticeship job openings are regularly available through the following organizations.
As part of the application process, you may be required to pass a basic aptitude exam. In most cases, the exam will test your reading comprehension as well as your ability to perform simple arithmetic and first grade algebra.
This step is the heart of the process. Your apprenticeship combines on-the-job training with online and/or classroom courses. During your four to five years of training, you will be mentored and supervised by a master or skilled electrician. You will be paid an hourly wage.
At the beginning of your apprenticeship, you will perform very basic tasks. However, as you improve your skills and gain a practical understanding of the concepts involved, you will gradually begin to perform increasingly complex tasks. By the end of your apprenticeship, you may be able to perform a full range of electrical work related to construction and maintenance at the journeyman level.
One of the most important things to understand when exploring how to become a licensed electrician is that each state has set its own standards. Therefore, it is important to contact your state and the municipality where you plan to work. Ask them if you need a license to work in electricity. In some cases, you may need a license to work as an employee of an electrical contractor. In other cases, you may not need a permit unless you plan to start your own electrical business.
Where a license is indeed required, you may have to pass an exam that tests your understanding of the National Electrical Code, various electrical concepts, safety practices, and local laws and building codes. You may also have to demonstrate that you have completed a certain amount of relevant classroom instruction and hands-on training under the supervision of a licensed journeyman or master electrician.
The cost of becoming an electrician varies widely. Pre-apprenticeship training at trade schools can cost from $5,000 to $20,000 or more, but there are many ways to reduce these costs through scholarships, grants, and other types of financial aid.
Apprenticeship fees may range from $400 to $1,000 per year. However, many apprenticeships are paid for by employers, so you may not be paying for these costs out of pocket. In addition, you earn a salary as you complete your training.
People in the electrical industry typically earn a good salary in exchange for ensuring that our homes, schools, businesses and industrial buildings remain safely powered. However, an electrician's income usually comes in the form of an hourly wage, rather than an annual salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, the median hourly wage for electricians in the U.S. was $27.36, which means that electricians earn about $56,900 per year for a full-time job. Some electricians end up earning as much as $47.46 per hour or more.
Also, keep in mind that as an apprentice electrician, you'll start out earning about 70% of what a skilled electrician makes. PayScale says that beginning apprentices typically earn $14.34 per hour.
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