How Do I Become a Certified Electrician?

Certified electricians install, maintain, test and repair electrical systems. Read on to find out more about becoming an electrician and gaining certification in the field. Schools offering Electrician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

A certified electrician is an electrician who has received official recognition and certification from a professional organization, like the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (www.njatc.org). As an electrician, you'll work with power and electrical systems. You might perform routine maintenance and installation in office buildings, retail developments, and/or private residences. You'll have to be able to read blueprints, work with tools, and follow proper safety protocols in order to work in this profession.

Training and Education

To be a certified electrician, you'll need the necessary job skills. You can seek out electrician training programs at vocational schools or community colleges. In such programs, you'll complete coursework like electrical theory, wiring, motor controls, circuitry, and mathematics.

These programs are usually combined with an apprenticeship program. You might choose to pursue the apprenticeship program by itself, although most training committees require you to get some form of classroom instruction. The apprenticeship gives you a chance to learn by doing. You'll be supervised by trained professionals who help teach you the trade. The entire electrician training program takes about four years to complete.

State Licensure

In most cases, you'll need a state license to work as an electrician. The licensure requirements vary in each state. Generally, you'll need to complete an examination that covers topics like local and state building codes, local and state electric codes, the national electrical code, and electrical knowledge.

If you want to work for the public, a separate special license may be required in your area. These requirements are lengthy, normally requiring a bachelor's degree or seven years' worth of experience, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov).

Certification

When pursuing certification, you'll first want to determine the type of certification you want. In addition to the certified electrician credential, you can also obtain certification in areas like cable splicing and instrumentation. Once you've chosen the certification you want, you'll need to meet any necessary prerequisites. Prerequisites are determined by the organization you're applying with, but generally include a minimum amount of professional experience.

Once you're qualified for certification, you'll need to complete a certification examination. These tests usually have written and practical components to them. The written portion of the test covers your knowledge of topics like power distribution, diagrams, building management, power distribution, and grounding.

The physical examination is designed to have you perform several specific tasks that demonstrate your mastery over electrical work. After you pass these examinations, you'll receive your professional certification and become a certified electrician.

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