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You’ve been tinkering around with electronics for years and it’s finally time to get serious. Or maybe you’re just getting out of high school and find circuits and electrical currents to be fascinating. Whatever your situation, perhaps you want to know how to become an electrician, which might be more straightforward than you think.
Granted, becoming a journeyman or master electrician requires a lot of time and dedication. It might be intimidating to approach such a complex field with no prior experience or electrician training. But everyone has to start somewhere. If you’re willing to put in the work to acquire the time necessary you too can become a licensed electrician.
How to Become an Electrician in 5 Steps
1. Earn a High School Diploma or GED
Without this first step, you are not likely to get very far in the job market. However, it is possible (but probably more competitive) to start an apprenticeship program without this education. If you are in need of obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent there are many resources to help you achieve this goal. If you are in need of obtaining your GED, you could visit GED.com for a list of resources near you. Potential employers will want to see that you can dedicate yourself to a goal and achieve it. So even if you dropped out of high school, going back to get your GED is a promising characteristic. If you’re still in high school, be proactive. Take classes like physics, algebra, trigonometry, shop, and subjects related to mechanics or the electrical industry. You want to build a strong foundation so that learning new skills down the line comes more easily.
2. Go to Technical School
While this might not be the right option for some people, going to vocational or trade school is a great way to get technical understanding and hands-on experience. Both of which are essential when applying to become an electrician trainee.
Earn an electrician certificate from a trade school or an associate’s degree in electrical technology to really stand out when applying. When first researching how to become an electrician in Fairfield, California, look for programs that may help you find employment options upon completion. Some electrical training programs blend in-person learning with online courses for a more flexible schedule. You’ll go in on one day for hands-on training, usually on a weekend, and complete classwork online when it’s convenient for you. If you are working while attending school, this option allows you to easily transition into a new career.
The amount of course work required varies by state and program, but you should anticipate spending between 580 and 1,000 hours in the classroom. Here, you’ll understand electricity, the National Electric Code, different wiring requirements, and more.
Some programs are designed to take you through the whole process leading up to the journeyman exam. This includes placing you with a company as a trainee to get you that hands-on experience.
3. Apply to be an Electrician Apprentice
Secure an apprenticeship to get hours of job experience. This is the core of the experience necessary and will help you to apply for the journeyman electrician license.
You can also look into the Electrical Training Alliance for apprenticeship opportunities. This program pairs aspiring electricians with union apprenticeships that meet the licensing requirements of your jurisdiction.
Depending on your state requirements, you may need between 8,000 and 12,000 hours of experience under your belt to take the license exam.
4. Complete Your Apprenticeship
Your apprenticeship may combine classroom instruction and paid job experience.
During this time, you’ll learn to:
- Read technical diagrams and blueprints
- Install and maintain various electrical systems
- Comply with the National Electric Code
- Identify and repair problems in malfunctioning systems
The apprenticeship will last between four and six years. Depending on where you complete this experience, you could be setting yourself up with a permanent career. It’s not uncommon for individuals to begin as an apprentice somewhere, gain the experience necessary to pass the exam and continue working with the company as a journeyman electrician.
Some places, like California and Texas, require trainees to register before they can work as an apprentice. This could be as simple as filling out some paperwork and paying a fee but always check with state, county, and city regulations to ensure you are meeting all requirements for the area in which you reside.
5. Pass an Exam and Register for Your Electrician License
After all your hours of hard work and training, contact your local municipality to become a certified electrician. In some cases, this requires you to pass a multiple-choice exam. Most states do require a license and successfully applying for one may open up many new opportunities. As a licensed electrician, you can work under any electrical contractor, start an electrical business of your own, accept any kind of electrical work, and work towards becoming a master electrician. Acquiring the license is just another way to stand out to employers or clients looking to hire an independent contractor. The journeyman exam may cover state and federal codes and standards, specialized equipment, and special occupancies and conditions. You’ll need to provide proof of your completed hours for the license.
Once you become a journeyman electrician, you can continue to gain hours of experience to become a master electrician or get licensed in specialty areas like low voltage and electrical signs. A great move for anyone looking to increase their electrician salary. (BLS as of June 2019)
Start Your Journey Today
The internet is full of opportunities to explore new passions and interests. So why not use it to find a way to make your dreams into a reality.
You wanted to know how to become an electrician. Now it’s time to make it happen. Whether you live in Rancho Cordova, West Covina, or Fairfield, find a program near and spark up a new path.
Check out the InterCoast College electrical technician training program and you may be on the career path to working in the industry in less than a year’s time.