How to Become an Electrician
It’s an interesting factor of our society that everyone goes to a four-year university or college. In fact, the pursuit of office jobs has been so strong that many of those fields are being over-saturated with college graduates and are now requiring graduate degrees for the same work instead. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing your dream job or entering a narrower field if the work is what you want to do, but America has been rediscovering the value of trade schools and vocational, blue-collar work recently.
Schooling is Different, but Still Difficult
There’s a mindset in America that trade schools and vocational training are for those without a choice. That’s not true at all. Trade and vocational schools are for people who want to get into a specific field, just like how universities are designed for certain fields. But your first step is identical for both: Get your high school diploma.
A fundamental education is required for most jobs in the U.S. Start in high school and pay attention to math, physics, and English for the core skills you need. If you have the opportunity to take a shop class or mechanical drawing course you’ll be a step ahead early on. Being an electrician requires the ability to read and understand both simple and complex technical documents and scientific concepts.
While you could apply for an apprenticeship at this point, if you have the chance we recommend attending a trade school or vocational college. Getting training in advance of applying for an apprenticeship will help your chances of working where you want to. Even if you have family that’s taught you how to be an electrician since you were little, attending a school provides advanced programs, tools, training scenarios, and the study needed to master the National Electric Code. Self-study will always be important during your career, but formal training at the beginning can make that much easier and vocational schools are nowhere near as expensive as full universities.
The next step is to apply for an apprenticeship. Start looking as soon as possible since you never know how many other people are applying to the same jobs. If there’s a specific company you want to work for, you’ll want to try and get your foot in the door early. Getting an apprenticeship can be a challenge but it’s important for finding the job you want.
The apprenticeship process is what will allow you to become a licensed electrician. Rather than spending two more years in school classes, you start out working as a helper. Apprenticeship programs teach you what you need to know and give you the experience you need at the same time. This working time is essential because for electricians in the US, you must have a four-year apprenticeship and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. It’s a bonus that you get paid while learning instead of earning up debt to pay off after getting a job.
Getting Licensed as an Electrician
Once you’ve achieved the number of hours needed to gain a license, all you must do is take an exam. By this point, you’ll be so familiar with the electrical code and with the work you’re doing that it’s a simple step. The test is difficult, but you’ll know the material so don’t worry, just stick with it.
Licensed electricians spend years learning and perfecting their craft. Even after becoming a licensed electrician, we go through even more training to become master electricians and to stay up to date with code changes, system upgrades, and new techniques or equipment. It’s never too late to learn a new trade if you’re willing to put in the effort. Start today!
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