Electrician Video: Educational Requirements for the Electrician Trades

Electrician Video: Educational Requirements for the Electrician Trades Transcript

Electricians work to install, repair and maintain the electrical systems in homes, office buildings and other structures. Most training is done on the job in the form of apprenticeship programs. Some classroom education is required in order to help students grasp the fundamentals of electricity and electronics technology. An additional license may be required to work as an electrician in some states.


Electricians are skilled workers who specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of electrical systems and equipment. Following plans developed by engineers and architects, most electricians work in the construction industry, providing power to all kinds of construction projects. Others repair electronic equipment and existing electrical systems. Most career training is accomplished through apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training. Many states require electricians to earn a professional license.

Job Duties and Skills

The work of a construction electrician begins with a review of blueprints and schematics provided by an engineer. Electricians use these plans to help them to visualize the finished project and to prepare tools and supplies prior to starting any actual work. Next, they install the circuit breakers, wires, conduits and other components required. They also test their work as they go along, ensuring that their efforts are both safe and effective. Their job is not finished until the entire system has been installed, tested and certified as both functional and safe.

Some electricians don't work in construction, but instead focus on maintaining existing electrical systems. They must often solve unexplained problems in the system and develop creative solutions. Logical thinking and problem solving skills are a must. Maintenance electricians may also work to repair industrial machinery, computer technology and other electronics equipment.

Electricians use a variety of hand and power tools that require hand-eye coordination and physical dexterity. Working conditions can be cramped and many electricians must work outdoors during the early stages of a construction project. Long hours and weekend work are not uncommon when trying to meet a tight deadline. However, electricians must not sacrifice safety standards, as a mistake can lead to electrical shock or even a fire.

Training Required

Apprenticeship programs are the most common training ground for aspiring electricians. Most apprenticeship programs require a high school diploma, or equivalent, a drug screening and a background check. These programs may be offered by a local electrician's union or through the Independent Electrical Contractors Association. An electrician apprenticeship usually takes four years to complete and includes 2,000 hours of on the job training and 144 hours of classroom study.

In the classroom, students can expect to study electrical codes and laws, mathematics, professional safety and the principles of electrical theory. During their vocational training, apprentices will work alongside experience professionals to learn practical career skills. Apprentices begin by learning simpler skills, including measuring, connecting and testing wiring. As they master these skills they will learn more advanced skills.

Those who complete apprenticeship programs are known as journeymen electricians and are prepared to earn any needed state or local certification. These certifications require passing a written exam. Additional licenses may be required for electricians who participate in public works projects. Master electricians are journeymen who have 7 years professional experience and in some states, a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering is required.

Career Options

Two-thirds of electricians work in construction installing new electrical systems on buildings and other structures as they are erected. The other third work in maintenance positions, repairing and updating existing electrical systems. Around 10 percent of electricians work as self-employed contractors, picking and choosing jobs based on their professional skills and interests.

With additional education and licensing, electricians may be able to become construction supervisors, project managers or general contractors. Self-employed electricians may start their own businesses, hiring other contractors and developing a growing client base.


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