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Electrician Trade School vs. Apprenticeship

Electrician Trade School vs. Apprenticeship

How do you start training to become an electrician? Which is the best training path to becoming an electrician—trade school or an apprenticeship? We've gathered all the information you need, so you can make the right choice for you!

Topics All Electricians Must Learn

Electricity can be dangerous, so good training is non-negotiable. You want to come away from your learning experience career-ready and be able to get into a well-paying job.

Regardless if you choose to attend trade school or an apprenticeship first, you will be taught the same topics. These include, but are not limited to:

  • National electrical codes
  • Electrical theory
  • Basic electrical calculations
  • Circuits
  • Residential, industrial, and commercial wiring
  • Motors and controls
  • Troubleshooting
  • CPR

All training is also designed to prepare you for licensing, since most states require it. The first license you will have to earn is your electrical apprentice license.

How To Train: Trade School Or Apprenticeships

The electrical apprentice license is what all electricians work under, whether you go to a trade school or take an apprenticeship. You’ll keep this title until you have enough experience to apply for a journeyman’s license.

Here are the details for both of these two training options:


When looking to receive electrical training, you can count on apprenticeships as a reliable option. Like trade schools, you learn by doing, but apprenticeships have the distinct difference of paying you to learn the trade. However, they can be challenging to get into.

There are two kinds of apprenticeships, union and non-union, and you can research information pertaining to which you’ll prefer online:

Apprenticeships typically last 4-5 years, with approximately 8,000 on-the-job training hours and 500 hours of class time required.

To get into an apprenticeship, you must be 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, and pass a math test. Applicants with prior experience or training may have an easier time getting selected. And if you aren’t accepted, you can always re-apply the next year.

Trade School

Trade schools and vocational colleges are an equally strong training option. You won’t get paid to learn, but a perk of this format is the ability to become career-ready in as few as 10 months. As with an apprenticeship, you will work as an electrical apprentice after training. Your school time can count toward 1-2 years of your experience necessary to become a journeyman electrician.

To enter trade school, you must be 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED. No prior experience is necessary.

As you can see, there’s no wrong choice when deciding between attending a trade school or applying for an apprenticeship. Both training options lead to the same good career.

Find local training programs now.

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