Becoming an Electrician: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become an electrician. Explore the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you'll need to advance your career in electrical systems. View article »

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  • 0:04 Electricians
  • 0:35 Career Skills and Info
  • 1:19 Step 1: Training
  • 2:07 Step 2: Apprenticeship
  • 3:01 Step 3: Licensing

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Video Transcript


Electricians work on all aspects of electrical systems installed in homes, businesses, and industrial spaces. They may install, repair, and inspect wiring or other electrical components. The minimum educational requirements for pursing an apprenticeship or training program at a college or technical school is a high school diploma. Aspiring electricians should also be aware in advance that safety precautions must be followed carefully when working with electricity.

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Career Skills & Info

Education High school diploma or equivalent
Training Electrician training programs can be found at technical schools and colleges
Licensure Required in most states; requirements vary from state to state
Experience 4-year apprenticeship program; formal education may provide credit toward training
Key Skills Critical thinking, customer-service, managerial, troubleshooting, and computer skills
Job Outlook* 14% growth
Average Annual Salary (2015)* $55,590

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine

Let's take a look at some of the training and licensing requirements for electricians.

Step 1:Training

High school graduates can prepare for careers as electricians through college or vocational programs. For example, many colleges and technical schools offer certificate programs for aspiring electricians. Once enrolled, they study various aspects of electrical work, such as theory and electrical code standards. Though practical experience is still required for an electricians license, employers often start graduates of these programs at more advanced levels.

Success Tip:

  • Prepare for an apprenticeship program with course choices. Generally, one year of algebra is required to enter apprenticeship programs. Students in postsecondary training programs may consider taking additional math courses since they may be useful.

Step 2: Apprenticeship

The traditional career path for electricians is through apprenticeship programs, which provide an education and a monetary stipend. In addition to a high school diploma or GED, applicants over 18 years of age must pass an aptitude and drug test. Apprenticeship programs typically last four years and include 2,000 hours of paid work experience and 144 hours of classroom instruction. As graduates of apprenticeship programs, electricians are given the designation of journeyworkers and are qualified to work without supervision.

Success Tip:

  • Become familiar with common tools of the trade. Apprentices should learn to use a variety of tools under the supervision of experienced electricians. They can also seek out opportunities to gain experience with common computer programs used in the trade.

Step 3: Licensing

In most states, electricians must be licensed. Requirements vary for each state, but commonly include a licensing exam. Others requirements include varying levels of experience or a combination of education and experience. Electricians should consult their state electrical licensing board to determine specific requirements. Generally speaking, an electrician's license must be renewed every two years. Electricians should make sure to keep track of any upcoming and relevant license renewal information.

Let's review. Electricians need a high school diploma or its equivalent to qualify for an apprenticeship, college, or vocational training program and enter a field that's expected to grow by a much faster than average rate through 2024. The average yearly salary for an electrician in May 2015 was $55,590.

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