A 4-year apprenticeship program that incorporates didactic instruction with paid on-the-job training provides aspiring electricians with the training they need to successfully work. Alternatively, they can also complete an associate’s degree program at a vocational school or community college.
Electricians work in the construction, maintenance and manufacturing industries and are responsible for installing, repairing and maintaining electrical systems and equipment. Electricians must understand state and local building codes and be able to read technical diagrams. Full apprenticeship programs are sponsored by various professional electrical worker associations or private companies.
Those hoping to work as supervisors, managers or product developers in the industry should consider pursuing an associate’s degree. The curriculum for all electrician training programs is guided by the National Electric Code (NEC) and OSHA safety requirements.
The prerequisites for beginning electrician training includes a high school diploma or the equivalent and be 18 years old.
Electrician apprenticeship programs include a minimum of 144 hours of instruction in the classroom each year. Students learn about special systems such as fire alarms, elevators and communications. Soldering techniques are also introduced. Classroom topics include:
- Blueprint reading
- Code requirements
- Electrical theory and safety
Associate of Science in Electrical Technology
Associate’s degree programs usually include the same hands-on and classroom training as apprenticeship programs. However, general education requirements in the humanities and sciences must be met for degree completion. Some course topics might include:
- Residential wiring
- Basic wiring techniques
- Motor controls lab
- Industrial controls
- Electronic motor drive systems
3Popular Career Options
Individuals who get into an electrician training program can go on to many different careers. Some job titles might include construction electrician, controls engineer and photovoltaic installation technician.
2Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, electricians make a mean annual wage of $55,590. The job outlook for these professionals from 2014-2024 is expected to grow 14%, which is faster than average compared to all other occupations.
Licensing is required for electricians in almost every state. Requirements generally include a specified number of hours of classroom and on-the-job training plus completion of a written examination. In order to maintain licensure, most states require at least seven hours per year of continuing education classes. Some states have approved online training to meet these requirements.
A national convention and numerous regional meetings are sponsored each year by NECA and its chapters. There are numerous trade shows available to keep electricians abreast of current trends, new products and other developments within the field. Many of the courses offered through workshops can be used to meet continuing education requirements. Frequent changes to law and new technologies require electricians to take continuing education classes in order to stay up-to-date. Additionally, courses in labor relations and project and business management are useful to those seeking advancement to a supervisory or managerial level.
An apprenticeship or associate’s degree gives future electricians the knowledge they need to competently work. An apprenticeship is typically completed within 144 hours and an associate’s degree takes two years to complete.