How to Become
Best Education Tracks, Key Skills, and Top Certifications
Almost everyone in the world could use the services of an electrician at some point in their lives. Although this work might appear easy, it is actually quite intensive and detail-oriented. If you want to know how to become an electrician, read on.
We’ll go over the steps you should take to learn the skills, get a license, and eventually land a well-paid job in this profession.
What Is an Electrician?
An electrician is in charge of installing and repairing electrical systems and appliances. Usually, an electrician will learn these skills at a trade school. However, to become a certified electrician, you also need to attend special courses to obtain a license.
What Type of School Should You Attend
to Become an Electrician?
It is not necessary to attend a traditional higher education institution to become an electrician. However, you should attend a trade school or take special courses that will provide you with high-quality training and job placement services. This is important because electrical companies will take your education into account during the hiring process.
Some places you can look for training as an electrician include apprenticeship programs, trade schools, technical schools, associate degrees, and one-off online or in-person courses.
Best Electrician Education Tracks
Most electricians spend four to five years practicing their skills. Each year, electricians will receive 2,000 to 4,000 hours of classroom training and hands-on lessons. Below, you will see some academic courses you can take to become an electrician.
In the US, the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee prepares many prospective electricians for their professional careers. In this program, you will work 32 to 40 hours per week as an electrician’s apprentice.
You will also spend eight hours per week studying in a classroom. This course is free, and you only have to pay about $600 per year for the books and guides you will need to use as a reference.
These programs last between three and five years, depending on what area you’re specializing in. The best part of these courses is that they are nationally recognized. This means that when you graduate, you will be qualified to work at any company, or to start your own company. According to Salary.com, a journeyman electrician earns $50,000 per year on average.
Associate Degree in Electrical Technology
Some colleges, such as Thomas Edison State University, offer an associate degree in electrical technology. This degree is meant for those who want to learn to operate electrical machinery, become general electricians, or study the technical aspects of electrical energy.
Some of the topics covered in this degree program include instrumentation, industrial electronics, motors, generators, and digital electronics. An associate degree in electrical technology will broaden the type of jobs you can apply for upon graduating, and will also lead to a higher income.
A report from Salary.com says that electricians with an associate degree make about $45,000 per year.
In the US, a trade school is one of the best ways to learn a new skill. To get into these schools, all you need is a high school diploma. These trade school programs are often partnered with local community colleges, with lessons taking place on campus.
Trade school electrical technology programs will combine theoretical knowledge with hands-on practice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a fully trained electrician earns an average of $56,900 a year.
How to Become an Electrician: A Step-by-Step Guide
Assess the possibilities
The job outlook for trades can differ based on your location. Before starting down this career path, you should figure out where you can study your trade, the average salary in your city, and the local demand for these services.
Obtain a high school diploma
High school is an essential phase in your academic training if you want to attend trade school. A diploma is a prerequisite for most trade schools and associate degrees. It’s also important because some of the subjects you study in high school will come in handy as an electrician, like physics and algebra.
Enroll in a trade school
A vocational school is the ideal place to begin preparing for your career. In a trade school, you will get to learn about common electrical systems, and put your theoretical knowledge to the test.
After spending one or two years at trade school, you will be ready to take your test to become a licensed electrician. The test you take will differ depending on what specific career you want to go into. You may want to get licensed to become an electrical administrator, an electrical contractor, or a specialty electrician.
Get to work
Don’t waste time after graduation. Start applying to work for an electric company, or start offering your services as a freelancer.
Continued learning is important in any industry if you want to be successful. Take advantage of the online courses and programs available, and improve your performance in the field by taking on challenging work.
Key Electrician Skills
As an electrician, you might be working on a new job every day. This trade requires important soft skills like responsibility and discipline, as well as many hard skills that will help you avoid accidents. Below, you will see some of the most important skills for an electrician to have.
Strong Understanding of Math
Electrical work involves a lot of basic math. Electricians must make calculations, measurements, and drawings of how the electrical circuit they are working on operates.
Ability to Analyze Plans
Another essential skill is the ability to interpret and improve on electrical plans. You must be aware of all the components of a circuit so that you can make sure the electricity reaches its target.
Handling of Electrical Instruments
Electrical tools are an important part of creating stable circuits. Regardless of where you work, you will need to know how to use a voltage tester, multimeter, circuit finder, pliers, and wire strippers.
Electrician Salary and Job Outlook
According to the BLS, the average electrician earns about $56,900 a year, which comes out to $27.36 per hour. This will vary depending on your job experience, job title, and your employer. The report also projects that the number of electrician jobs available will rise by eight percent between 2019 and 2029, which is higher than average.
Entry-Level Electrician Job Requirements
Most educational institutions that offer electrician programs require a high school diploma. To work as a freelance electrician or for a company, you must also be certified for your state or county.
A ZipRecruiter report says that an entry-level electrician earns about $32,000 per year.
What Does an Electrician Do?
An electrician’s duties will depend on the type of company they work for and the job they are certified to do. Below, you will see some of the tasks that an average electrician might encounter during a typical day.
Install Electrical Systems
An electrician’s primary task is to install electrical systems. To do this, they will first make a plan, calculate dimensions, assess and measure the worksite, and test the elements. An electrician might end up working on a new home, an existing office space, or might make home visits to fix appliances.
Test and Monitor Systems
After installation, an electrician must conduct technical tests to make sure it is working correctly. This is essential to avoiding short-circuiting and other accidents.
Another task that an electrician will regularly deal with is fixing electrical problems. This task requires keen problem-solving skills. In most cases, electricians will identify the error, cut power, repair the circuit, and test that it’s working.
A certification validates your knowledge and skills in a specific profession. If you want to become an electrician, having a certification is essential. Once you have finished your training program, you need to pass a test to prove your knowledge. This test will be offered by either your state or local authority.
Electrician Certification Program
There are three basic electrician licenses: Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Electrician. The test you will take to qualify for these positions consists of questions based on the National Electrical Code, which is the manual that governs all practices in the industry. You also must pass a few physical evaluations.
The requirements to get licensed will differ by state, so be sure to read up on these before you take the test.
How to Prepare for Your Electrician Job Interview
The interview is an important way for your prospective employer to get to know you and your abilities. You should use this opportunity to explain why you’re passionate about electrical work, and to elaborate on your skills.
Below are some common questions that can help you ace your interview.
Electrician Job Interview Practice Questions
- What level of electrician’s license do you have?
- What is the most demanding electrical project that you have completed?
- Why do you want to work for our company?
- Explain how you would design a circuit.
How Long Does It Take to Become an Electrician?
The time it takes to become an electrician varies based on what level you want to reach. If you work hard, you can become a journeyman electrician in most states in about four years. Putting in thousands of hours of experience is essential to moving up the ladder in this career.
Should You Become an Electrician in 2021?
Becoming an electrician in 2021 is a good choice because this is a stable career that is currently growing. We all need to use the services of an electrician from time to time, and the tech industry’s use of electrical power has made this even more apparent.
Another reason to become an electrician in 2021 is that you can do some of your studying at home, which wouldn’t have previously been possible. Many online colleges allow you to learn from home, meaning you have the option to work toward a new career without quitting your day job.
How many electricians are there in the US?
According to the BLS, more than 730,000 people were working as electricians in 2019.
How many hours per week does an electrician work?
An electrician works about 40 hours per week over five days.
How much does it cost to attend a trade school to become an electrician?
Vocational school prices vary depending on the institution and location. According to one school, Midwest Technical Institute, trade school tuition can cost between $5,000 and $15,000.
On the other hand, apprenticeship programs are free, besides the $200 to $600 you will have to spend per year on study materials.