They're not called 'master' electricians for nothing: achieving this rank involves years of work experience and continuing education. You can begin on-the-job training without formal education in some states, while others do require a degree or certificate. No matter where you start, you'll need to work for several years before you can become licensed as a master electrician.
Master electricians are often in charge of the installation and maintenance of electrical systems in homes, businesses and institutions. Most states license master electricians based on examinations, accrued experience and on-the-job training as a journeyman or apprentice electrician; some states lower the required years of experience for master electrician candidates who have vocational school training, an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.
|Required Education||Varies by state, but on-the-job training may be sufficient; related certificate and degree programs are available|
|Licensure||State license usually required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||14% for all electricians*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$60,513**|
Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com.
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Educational Requirements for Master Electricians
Colleges and vocational schools offer certificate, degree and continuing education programs for those seeking a career as a master electrician. Maine mandates a 576-hour vocational training program for electricians, while postsecondary education is optional in other jurisdictions. Some states accept a trade school diploma, associate's degree or engineering bachelor's degree in lieu of some of the required practical experience. Most states require electricians to pass the same licensure exam, regardless of their educational background.
Classroom study in an electrical engineering bachelor's degree program usually consists of applied mathematics, fundamentals of electricity, project management and architectural wiring. Vocational programs cover the National Electrical Code, cabling, OSHA regulations and local building codes.
Most master electricians take continuing education classes throughout their careers to keep their skills up-to-date and maintain licensure. Courses are typically offered by state-approved schools or vocational programs and may be held either online or on-campus.
Training requirements for master electricians vary according to state and union regulations. In most areas, training begins in an approved apprenticeship program following graduation from a degree program. Some apprenticeship programs specialize in residential, commercial or new construction, while others may cover various general contracting jobs.
Apprenticeship programs usually run 3-7 years and typically divide hours between classroom and on-the-job training. Classroom study can include applied circuitry, electronic drafting, digital electronics and electrical instrumentation. Outside training is done under the supervision of a master electrician or journeyman at job sites and projects.
Following completion of an apprenticeship program, most states require that electricians spend time as journeymen before moving up to become master electricians. After earning a state journeyman license, electricians usually spend at least two years acquiring work hours before they can apply for a master electrician license.
Education options vary for those who wish to become master electricians, so often you can combine classroom learning and on-the-job training in a way that works best for you. Apprenticeships overseen by senior members of the profession are a common way to build up the years of experience needed to meet licensing requirements for journeyman and master electricians.