From great pay and job security to being your own boss and enjoying interesting work that provides great physical activity, there are many benefits to becoming an electrician. Below is a step-by-step breakdown of how to embark on a career as an electrician.
Thinking about becoming an electrician? You’ve come to the right place!
Stronghold Engineering is an award-winning design and construction firm specializing in renowned projects for some of the nation’s biggest organizations. Our core values of quality, safety, teamwork, integrity, and commitment have made us an employer of choice for electrical, construction, and trades professionals for three decades. We’ve outlined what it takes to become a successful electrician and why it is something that anyone at any stage of their career can pivot towards.
What Electricians Do
Electricians possess vital skill sets that are critical for modern society. Working with electrical power in different settings and capacities, electricians are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical equipment of different varieties. This includes residential, commercial, large-scale industrial machinery and appliances.
Based on your experiencing and licensing, electricians are usually categorized as one of the following:
- Apprentice: An apprentice is an electrician working under a master electrician, learning the trade. Depending on state and local licensing requirements, you may require up to four years of training.
- Journeyman electrician: Someone who completed their apprenticeship and is a licensed electrician. He/she can work independently as an electrician but cannot train others or take on large-scale projects that require specific permits.
- Master electrician: Someone with roughly two years of electrical experience. Becoming a master electrician typically requires passing a local- or state-administered exam. Master electricians can train apprentices and manage larger electrical teams.
Electricians can focus on contracting as an electrical services business owner (which requires a certain amount of insurance), or they can focus on residential projects working in homes and apartment buildings. Electricians can also work in commercial settings. With additional experience and focus, an electrician can work toward becoming an industrial electrician working in big facilities that use large, specialized equipment and machinery.
Becoming an Electrician
A basic five-step process for becoming an electrician is outlined below.
1. Earn a high school or equivalent diploma. Electricians require an understanding of algebra, trigonometry, physics, and English to, for example, measure wire lengths, calculate electrical currents, and read technical documents.
2. Attend technical/vocational training (optional). This is not required, but it can make the process of certification and landing a job much easier. Vocational training will give you the lab-based training you need to successfully complete the on-the-job training needed to obtain your journeyman license.
3. Land an apprenticeship. With or without trade school, you must complete an apprenticeship to become a licensed electrician. You can find apprenticeships through your trade school, or via non-union placement with organizations such as the Independent Electrical Contractors or Associated Builders and Contractors.
To secure an apprenticeship, you may be required to take an aptitude test and you may need to register on a local or state website before undertaking any electrical work.
4. Complete the apprenticeship. Your apprenticeship combines classroom instruction, on-the-job training, mentorship, and supervision by a master electrician to provide you with the bulk of your electrical training. In most states, you must work as an apprentice for at least four years before taking the licensing exam.
Your apprenticeship will provide you with training on a wide range of topics, such as reading technical diagrams and electrical blueprints, installing and maintaining electrical wiring, electrical distribution, and state/federal compliance rules.
5. Earn your license or certification. Exams and licensing requirements vary from state to state so look into the qualifications required for performing electrical work in your area. You may be required to obtain a license, pass an electrical exam, or both. Your license/certification and proof that you completed an apprenticeship will be required before you can land work as an electrician working on your own.
Points to Consider
You now know what it takes to become an electrician, but even before you take the plunge and embark on a new career as an electrician, think about the following.
- Is it really what you want? You must thoroughly understand what it takes to become an electrician and what the average day will look like for you. If you are at all unsure that you will enjoy the type of work you will be doing or do not want to take the risks or complete the requirements involved, it may not be for you.
- Are you qualified? Beyond the steps above, to become an electrician, you should be at least 18 years old and be in good physical condition. You may require transportation to/from school and/or job sites and you should be able to work both independently as well as in a group.
- Can you complete your state’s licensing requirements? There may not be a nearby licensing office where you live, or you may have family commitments that would make it difficult to complete your apprenticeship hours. Work out the logistics with your loved ones to make sure this is something you will be able to see through to completion.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for electricians in 2020 was almost $57,000 per year (about $27 per hour). Electrician jobs are expected to grow by 8% between now and 2029, much faster than average for jobs overall.
To learn more about becoming an electrician or to contact our team about opportunities and benefits, please visit us at https://www.strongholdengineering.com/careers/. We look forward to hearing from you and working together on new and exciting projects.