If you enjoy working with your hands and are passionate about creating electrical systems or troubleshooting electrical problems, becoming an electrician may be right for you. Pursuing a career in the electrical industry requires some specialized skills and knowledge. Here are the simple steps on how to become an electrician:
Earn a High School Diploma or the Equivalent
Having a strong educational foundation can help people succeed in the electrical industry. A diploma or equivalent, like a GED, can prove that you have the basic knowledge and skills to pursue an electrician career. In high school, some courses that offer valuable skills for this career path include:
Algebra and trigonometry: Electricians need to be able to calculate electrical current, voltage, and resistance, and algebra and trigonometry lay the foundation for these calculations.
Physics: Understanding basic physics concepts can help electricians understand fundamental electrical principles.
Shop and mechanical drawing classes: Hands-on classes like shop and mechanical drawing hone problem-solving skills and improve an understanding of how machines work.
Attend a Trade or Vocational School
Attending a trade school can boost your knowledge and skills in the field. In trade schools, students learn hands-on skills from electrical theory to expert-level techniques in several areas. These areas include residential and commercial, industrial, and low-voltage electrical systems. Attending a trade school can also teach you more about product certifications and licensure available in your area.
Apply for an Apprenticeship
Whether you decide to attend a trade school to complete your training or not, finish an apprenticeship to become an electrician. During your apprenticeship, you’ll work alongside experienced electricians and learn everything you need to know about the trade. Apprenticeships include both on-the-job training and classroom instruction.
To get an apprenticeship, you need to have a high school diploma or equivalent and pass a drug test. You also need to have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation. When you apply for an apprenticeship, provide your resume. Provide your high school transcript and any relevant certificates or licenses you have.
Register and Complete Your Apprenticeship
Once accepted into an apprenticeship program, you must register with the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship. This registration is mandatory and can help confirm that your apprenticeship meets the standards set by the federal government. During your apprenticeship, you’ll need to complete a certain number of hours of on-the-job training and classroom instruction each year.
Get Licensed or Certified
After you’ve completed your apprenticeship, get licensed or certified to work as an electrician in your area. You need to pass an exam that tests your knowledge of the electrical trade and the rules and regulations governing it.
Categories of Electricians
There are several categories of electricians, each with their own unique set of skills and expertise. Here are some of the most common categories of electricians:
A journeyman electrician is an electrician who has completed an apprenticeship program or vocational school and has gained valuable experience working in the field. Journeyman electricians can install, maintain, and repair electrical systems. They have limitations on the types of work they can perform without supervision. Journeyman electricians work under the direction of a master electrician or a company.
A master electrician is a highly trained and skilled professional with years of experience in electric power management. A journeyman electrician should work in the field for a few years. They can then pass a state or local licensing exam before becoming a master electrician.
Master electricians supervise the work of journeyman electricians. They perform more complex installations, repairs, and maintenance work themselves. They are allowed to serve as the head of a team of electricians and check if the work is completed accurately, safely, and on time.
Independent Electrical Contractor
Independent electrical contractors are self-employed electricians who have established their businesses. They work with residential, commercial, and industrial customers and provide various electrical power management services.
Independent electrical contractors may specialize in specific areas of electrical work. These areas include lighting design and installation or renewable energy services.
Start Your Career to Become an Electrician
Becoming an electrician requires time, dedication, and effort. Hardworking electricians are in demand today, and the electrical industry is full of opportunities for growth and advancement. By following these steps, you can lay the foundation for a strong career in the electrical industry.