Becoming an electrician is not easy, as the process is time-consuming and challenging. Yet, once a person achieves their goal of obtaining their license for this profession, they will find that they have a skilled job that will last them a lifetime.
Before a person can begin their electrician training, they must be at least eighteen years of age and have either a high school diploma or a GED. They also must have completed at least one year of algebra during their schooling, although more is usually helpful. There are very few places that will waive any of these requirements for their apprenticeship programs and there are only two instances when it can be accomplished.
The first instance is that a person needs to have solid proof that they have extensive experience working within the electrical industry. The second situation is having a person receiving extensive training within a technical vocational school or a training academy that specializes in electricity.
In order to be approved and accepted into an apprenticeship, a person needs to pass the Electrical Trade’s Aptitude Test, which is administrated by the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. This test includes a math section with algebra and other mathematical topics as well as a reading comprehension section. The tests need to be scheduled through either the training facility that a person will be attending or their local Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee.
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Once a person is approved as an apprentice, their training can begin. Training can be through the National Electrical Contractors Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, or the Independent Electrical Contractors. These training courses include classroom courses and on the job training. A few of the classroom courses include reading blueprints, electrical theory, code requirements, and safety practices.
It can take a person between four and five years to compete their training program, because they need one hundred and forty hours of classroom time and at least two thousand hours of on the job training, but preferably more.
The National Electrical Contractors Association sponsors multiple training programs around the country, so it is possible for a person doing an apprenticeship to earn a paycheck as they are learning.
Some electricians will choose to specialize in one area of electricity or another and this decision needs to be made at the beginning of their apprenticeship. Some of the more popular specialties include residential wiremen, outside and inside linemen, VDV installer technicians, electrical soldering, communications, and fire alarm systems.
Each state has their own rules and regulations, so some electrician apprentices may need to register or apply for an electrician apprentice license before they can leave the classroom and begin their on the job training.
One of the first things electrician apprentices will do is basic duties that include holding tools, carrying materials, and cleaning up the site. They will be under the direct supervision of the journeyman electrician. This part of the learning process may not sound all that thrilling, but it is a necessary part of the entire journey. After all, people who start at the bottom and work their way up have a greater appreciation for the entire job and not just the fascinating parts of it. This also gives the student an idea of how everything works within the electrical industry.
As soon as an apprentice has completed their classroom hours and their on the job training, they will be ready to take their state exams. Each state has their own licensing requirements, and some states require multiple tests be taken. The goal is to pass on the first attempt, and since many states have a minimum requirement for passing the exam, it is usually possible to accomplish the task at hand.
Once a person passes their exam, they will be a licensed electrical journeyman for the state that they are in. They will not be able to do electrical work in other states, unless they take and pass those state’s licensing exams first.
Of course, the learning is never over for an electrician, because technology is always changing in the areas of fiber optics, programmable logic controls, electrical code for each state and nationally, and telecommunications. Therefore, electrical journeymen should be prepared to continue their classroom training as necessary, so they can continue to improve their skills.
Electrical journeymen are never going to need to worry about work once they obtain their license, because they can either choose to become an electrical contractor or simply work for one. The apprenticeship training programs are a wealth of information when it comes to job openings, as they normally post job opportunities with numerous contractors.
Those who decide to work with contractors or enter the contractor side of the business will want to take a few classes to improve their business and management skills. Those additional skills will allow a person to thrive amongst all their competitors and make it to the top of the potential employee list.
It may take a lot of time to become an electrician, but every minute of it will be worthwhile since this is one of the fields that will not be slowing down any time soon.