Residential Electrician Certification and Degree Program Summaries

Although many electricians are trained in 4-5 year apprenticeship programs, formal certificate and associate's degree programs are also available for aspiring residential electricians.

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Essential Information

Certificate programs may focus solely on residential electrician work, while associate's degree programs are broader and usually require some general education courses as well. In both, students learn skills such as blueprint reading, circuitry and code requirements. They also study safety practices. Both programs require hands-on supervised training. In every state, electricians must be licensed. Requirements vary, but usually call for the completion of an approved training program, work as a journey worker and passing a test on electrical codes.

Prerequisites for these programs include a high school diploma or GED.

Certificate Programs for Residential Electricians

These programs typically take two semesters and provide the hands-on training needed to begin a career in this skilled trade; some programs also include an apprenticeship and then take two years to complete. They generally offer both practical and theoretical approaches to residential electricity. Coursework focuses specifically on topics related to installing, repairing and maintaining wiring and electrical systems or equipment. Specific course topics often include:

  • Bonding and grounding
  • Circuits laboratory

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Associate's Degree Programs for Residential Electricians

These programs are available specifically for residential electricians, although they are more commonly available for all prospective electricians. They are more general and prepare graduates to work in commercial and industrial situations as well. It normally takes two years to earn an associate degree; however, some associate degree programs are also associated with apprenticeships and take approximately five years to complete. Students are required to take general education courses in math, English, social studies and science. Some programs have no other required coursework, just an apprenticeship or internship and electives. Electrician coursework often includes topics in:

  • Alternating current and motors
  • Basics of air conditioning
  • Controlling magnetic motors
  • Electrical systems
  • Employment and communication skills
  • Generators and alternators

Popular Career Options

After completing a certificate program, students often secure a job working for a licensed electrician before working on their own. After earning additional experience, possible residential electrician careers include:

  • Electrical contractor
  • Electrical job foreman
  • Electrical repair person
  • New construction electrician
  • Vocational school instructor

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

For the period between 2014 and 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of electricians of all types would increase 14% (www.bls.gov). Upgrading older buildings, new construction for increased populations and new energy technologies will account for much of the job growth. The BLS anticipated that electricians with the broadest skill ranges would experience the most job opportunities. The BLS also reported that, as of May 2015, the yearly average salary for electricians was $55,590.

Certification Information

All electricians, both residential and industrial, must be licensed by the state in which they work; some states refer to this as certification. Licensure and certification requirements vary by state, but typically include passing an exam that covers the National Electric Code, as well as state building codes and regulations.

Residential electrician training is available through apprenticeships, certificate and associate's degree programs. All professional electricians must receive licensing from their state before working in the industry.

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