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How to Become an Electrician: Training, License & Requirements

Nov 29, 2019

Electricians work on new construction and long-standing buildings, ensuring that the electrical wiring is safe, functional, and meets regulations. Learn how to become an electrician, the training and education needed, and other electrician requirements.

What Electrician Training Requirements Are There?

Electricians are highly trained tradesmen who ensure that new and old structures alike are able to provide electricity in a way that's safe for occupants and meets all necessary code requirements. To become an electrician, it is usually necessary to enter into an apprenticeship with an experienced electrician. These apprenticeships consist of on-the-job work experience as well as classroom time, and can last as long as 5 years. Over the course of an apprenticeship, the apprentice will gain more responsibilities as their knowledge of the trade grows, and will see correspondingly higher pay. Afterward, an apprentice is able to become a journeyman electrician and obtain a full license to work.

Electrician School and Education Requirements

To become an electrician, a high school diploma or equivalent is normally required. Additional knowledge and training needed is typically taught during apprenticeships, and may be tested as an apprentice progresses. Alternatively, for those who have found difficulty in securing an apprenticeship, many technical colleges will offer programs for electricians. These programs usually result in an associate's degree and take 2 years to complete, covering material such as:

  • Wiring essentials
  • The National Electrical Code (NEC)
  • College mathematics
  • Fundamentals of electricity

Upon completion of an associate's degree for electricians, graduates may receive a head-start on an apprenticeship, beginning in the second year, as well as allowing their education to date to count towards certification as a journeyman electrician. Those who have already earned an associate's degree may have an easier time finding an apprenticeship or be set up with an apprenticeship by the technical college before graduating. Online electrical certification courses are also an option, although they may not meet specific state or local requirements.

Electrician License and Certification Requirements

The laws governing the licensure or certification of electricians can vary from state to state, and not every state requires that they be licensed. As a general rule, electricians need extensive knowledge of the NEC, as well as any additional local and state electrical code requirements, which will be tested in the form of a licensing or certification exam. Licensure may also exist at different levels, such as a journeyman electrician or master electrician, with the main differences being the experience required. Many states require that continuing education is completed after obtaining licensure, and most require license renewal every 1 to 3 years. Be sure to check the state and local laws relevant to your situation for the most accurate and up-to-date licensing information.

Electrician Career and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for electricians in 2018 was $55,190. Apprentice electricians are paid less than those that are fully trained and licensed, although their pay will increase as they gain experience and complete training. Electricians are often, but not always, a unionized profession, so membership in a union may be important for success in this field. Employment of electricians over the ten-year period from 2018 to 2028 is expected to increase by 10%, faster than the national average. This growth is attributed in part to the large number of new construction projects going on and the need to bring renewable energy sources into existing buildings. Electricians with skills in a variety of areas, such as electronics and solar panels, are expected to have the best prospects.

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