The current job market can be tough to navigate. Current world events, advancement of technology, and an ever-changing work environment are causing many career paths of the past to become obsolete.
The electrician job market is growing above the national average and continues to offer a promising career outlook. All you need is a high school diploma (or equivalent), and you can start your path to becoming an electrician.
Electricians can make great salaries when working for a company and have an unlimited salary cap if they decide to start their own company.
Let’s take a look at how to become an electrician:
Steps to becoming an electrician
It is not extremely difficult to become an electrician but there are a few steps you’ll have to take. Let’s take a look:
1. Earn a high school diploma (or equivalent)
Most states will require a high school diploma or GED to become an electrician. Although many of the skills required to become an electrician are learned on the job, there are quite a few concepts learned in high school that are beneficial.
If given the option, it could be handy to choose to take some of the following courses during your time in high school:
- Shop Class
2. Complete education or training program
After earning a high school diploma (or equivalent), it might be a good idea to attend trade school or community college. These options can further your education and knowledge, and they allow you to get an education focused on becoming an electrician, starting a business, or both.
Trade school is a much quicker option than community college and can be completed in as few as 8 to 9 months. The cost of trade school depends on where you enroll and can range anywhere between $1,000 and $15,000. Trade school provides a great opportunity to learn more about working as an electrician and to get hands-on experience without having to worry about taking unrelated courses like English, History, and Business. If you want to focus strictly on learning how to become an electrician, trade school is a great option to consider.
Community college takes longer than trade school but will give you the opportunity to learn about things other than working as an electrician. Community college takes about two years to complete and costs about $3,440 per year, on average. Choosing this education path will give you the chance to learn more about subjects like English, History, and Business. This is a great option if you would like to own your own company, as you would be able to take Business classes during your time in community college.
>> Learn more: Electrician Education & Training
3. Apply for an apprenticeship
While attending trade school or community college is an option, completing an apprenticeship is not. You MUST complete an apprenticeship in order to become a licensed electrician.
There are multiple ways to find an apprenticeship:
- Through Trade School. Most trade schools offer apprenticeship opportunities.
- Through a Union. Contacting your local electrician union is a great way to find apprenticeship opportunities. If the union cannot directly provide you with an apprenticeship opportunity, they may be able to point you in the right direction.
- Through the Department of Labor (DOL). The Department of Labor has an apprenticeship program that is a great tool to use when looking for an apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships may require you to take an aptitude test to test your skills like reading comprehension and mathematics. They may also require you to complete an interview, meet a set of physical requirements, and take a drug screen.
4. Register as an electrician apprentice (depending on your state)
You will be required to register as an electrician apprentice in some states before you are allowed to work on any job site.
Check your state and local electrician requirements for more specific information for the state that your apprenticeship is in.
5) Complete your apprenticeship
The experience you obtain during your apprenticeship will be the foundation of your electrician career. An apprenticeship will involve a combination of classroom time and on-the-job training. You will also be mentored and supervised by a master electrician.
Most apprenticeships take 4 to 5 years to complete and involve significant hours in the classroom and on the job.
Aside from gaining the necessary experience you need to be an electrician, another great perk of apprenticeships is that most will pay you while you learn and train.
6) Get licensed
Each state and local area has unique requirements for licensing and certification. It is important to do your due diligence and understand all of the requirements your local area has to get your electrician license.
FAQs for becoming an electrician
Is it hard to become an electrician?
Becoming and working as an electrician can be difficult but it is very rewarding. Working as an electrician does not require you to be a math genius, but it will require mindfulness, common sense, and resourcefulness to deal with unique challenges that appear daily on job sites.
How long does it take to become an electrician?
The longest step in the path to becoming an electrician is the apprenticeship. Electrician apprenticeships take around 4 to 5 years to complete, but once this step is done, everything else moves fairly quickly.
How much does electrician training cost?
Community college and trade school are not required to become an electrician, but if you choose either of these routes, it will cost you a little bit of money. Trade school will cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $11,000, while community college will cost you around $3,440 per year on average. The great part about an apprenticeship is that you usually get paid while learning and training.
Do you need to be licensed to be an electrician?
Yes, every state requires a license or certification to work as an electrician.
How long does it take to become a master electrician?
Once you complete your apprenticeship, you can begin the master electrician licensure process. Again, an electrician apprenticeship takes around 5 years to complete.
Is electricians’ work dangerous?
Yes, electrician work can be dangerous, as a lot of your work will be with high voltages and currents. Although electrician work is dangerous, if you follow what you learned during your apprenticeship and wear proper PPE, you should not be injured on the job.