Electrician: How to Become an Electrician in 5 Steps
Do you like working with your hands and seeing tangible results from your handiwork? Do you have strong mechanical and technical aptitude? Are you organized, analytical, good at recognizing problems and good at solving them? A career as an electrician is one area where your talents might serve you well. Read further to find out how to become one. Schools offering Electrician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What is an Electrician?
An electrician is a skilled laborer who specializes in supplying, installing and maintaining electrical wiring systems in residential and commercial buildings. To become an electrician you will need to earn a high school diploma, complete classroom instruction, accumulate a certain number of on-the-job training hours and obtain a state license.
Step 1: Research Electrician Duties
As an electrician you would furnish and manage wiring in homes, factories and businesses. To do this, you will read blueprints to determine locations of outlets, panel boards, circuits and other types of equipment. Then, you're responsible for connecting wires to transformers, switches and other components. All the work you do needs to comply with local and state building codes to ensure public safety. You can choose to specialize in either construction where you'll install wiring systems or in maintenance where you'll upgrade wiring systems.
Step 2: Take Relevant High School Courses
Some courses available to you in high school can help prepare you for a career as an electrician. Some possibilities include algebra, geometry, physics, chemistry, workshop, English and mechanical drawing. If you're interested in setting up your own business some day, you should consider courses in business, entrepreneurship and accounting as well. Joining a high school electronics club will provide you with additional background. You could also try to gain experience by volunteering for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or by working with an electrician during the summer.
Step 3: Earn a Certificate or Associate's Degree
Community colleges and technical schools offer certificate and associate's degree programs that will train you in the fundamentals of electrical power systems. Program content addresses electrical theory, electrical drafting, wiring techniques, and the national electrical code through a mix of classroom and lab courses. Associate's degree programs also include general education courses. Certificate programs may be completed in a year or less. Associate's degrees may be earned in two.
Step 4: Complete an Industry-Sponsored Apprenticeship
Apprenticeships take approximately four years to finish and are comprised of 144 hours of classroom lessons. Credits earned in a certificate or associate's degree program may be applied towards the requirement. Classes cover blueprint reading, safety, mathematics, electrical theory and fire alarm safety. You also need 2,000 hours of on-the-job training with an experienced electrician. Tasks you can expect to perform include drilling holes, testing wires and switches and installing conduit.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) lists four organizations - the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) - as sponsors of apprenticeship programs. The IBEW and the NECA conduct their programs through the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee. Nine electrical apprenticeship specialties are recognized, according to O*NET Online (www.onetonline.org). To find a sponsored apprenticeship, consult the Office of Apprenticeships Sponsors website (oa.doleta.gov).
Step 5: Obtain a License
Most states require that electricians acquire a license. You should contact your state's local building official for licensing requirements. In a majority of instances you need to pass exams on the National Electrical Code and common electrical knowledge and theory. Once licensed, you need to take continuing education courses to keep up-to-date with National Electrical Code additions or amendments and new procedures and materials.
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: