You’ve heard the rumors—most trade careers don’t take long to train for; they are engaging lines of work, and that you can take home good pay. Well, we’re confirming it here: Electricians can have a great career with high pay.
So, the pressing question is, how do you start? Which is the best training path to becoming an electrician—trade school or an apprenticeship?
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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, able to immediately get into a well-paying job.
Here’s the spoiler: Whichever way you choose, trade school or apprenticeship, as an electrical student, you will be taught the same topics. Subjects such as:
- National electrical codes
- Electrical theory
- Basic electrical calculations
- Residential, industrial, and commercial wiring
- Motors and controls
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:
- Union apprenticeships: One of the most popular is the electrical training ALLIANCE by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)/National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).
- Non-union apprenticeships: These are offered by companies, the military, trade schools and community colleges, and training centers. Two popular non-union apprenticeship programs are offered by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC).
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.
Vocational colleges/trade schools 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 and high pay.