There are so many different things to factor in when deciding what career path to pursue—everything from the actual career, to the investment of time and money. If you’re thinking about becoming an electrician, than it’s important to go in with your eyes wide open at the ROI of school cost in relation to what you’ll earn upon graduation.
Let’s break down the training cost of becoming an electrician.
How Much Is Electrician School?
The cost of your school will correlate with which type of educational route you choose. The most expensive training will be through a trade school, which can run upwards of $30K. Community college will cost you an average of $2,500 per semester. Colleges and universities will run you around $10K per year, not including room and board.
Additional costs will include your books and other study materials, school fees, and your tools. Tools can run an additional $2,500. But, unless something breaks or gets lost, those are the tools that will carry you through. So, it’s really a one-time cost.
Scholarships and financial aid are available for electrical training programs. These will help offset the price of your education. Grants and scholarships won’t have to be paid back, but loans will. Keep that in mind when applying for financial aid.
How Long Do Electricians Have To Go To School?
The length of time an electrician has to go to school really depends on which type of program you are enrolled in.
- Apprenticeship: Four years. You’ll need 2,000 hours of on-the-job training plus 144 hours of being in the classroom per year.
- Trade School: You may want to start with a trade school program prior to your apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are a bit harder to find; there are only so many available at a time. Begin your training through an electrician program, which takes around nine months or longer.
- Community College: Community college programs take two years if you’re a full-time student.
It is highly recommended that, if you choose to go through a program, you also complete an apprenticeship. So, all in, with your program plus an apprenticeship, it can take up to six years to become a journeyman electrician.
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How Much Does An Electrical Apprenticeship Cost?
The cost for apprenticeships can run from free to a few hundred dollars per year. The cost of being an apprentice gets offset by the fact you will get paid for those 2,000 hours per year of on-the-job training, which comes to much more than how much you’re being charged—if you’re being charged, at all. Also, you’ll need to check with your state board because some will require you to have an apprentice license.
There are two main ways to find an electrical apprenticeship: union and non-union.
While union apprenticeships come with so many great benefits, like retirement, money, and training, they are harder to find. There are only so many slots that open up per year, and those get bombarded by applicants. The biggest electrical union is the IBEW. Once you’re in the union, you have to pay its yearly dues and follow strict union rules. But, in return, you have the name and power of the union behind you. Plus, you get a pension and other benefits.
Non-union apprenticeships come through independent electricians that are not affiliated with any unions. You’ll still receive a quality education and similar apprentice pay, but without the backing of a union. The benefits to a non-union apprenticeship is you’ll be more independent. Many contractors prefer non-union electricians because they are generally easier to work with.
Do your research into your local unions, as well as the other types of apprenticeships available to you before committing. Weigh the pros and cons.
How Much Does An Electrical License Cost?
After you complete your training, you’ll have to apply for and take the licensing exam. Each state has its own set of rules and regulations, so check in with yours to find out the specifics. The cost of the licensing exam for electricians can cost you between $30-$300. The fee for the exam itself can run you between $30-$75.
The price will vary depending on which certification level you’re applying for: apprentice, journeyman, or master. Every state’s pricing is different.
How Much Do Electricians Make?
Being an electrician is more than a full-time job. Chances are, you’ll be putting in more than the traditional 40 hours, and working weekends and evenings will be just another day for you.
As an apprentice, you’ll earn an hourly pay typically somewhere between minimum wage and $19/hour. The more experience and knowledge you gain, the more money you’ll earn.
Once you become a journeyman, which means you’ve completed your apprenticeship and are a licensed electrician, you’ll start earning between $55K-$77K. However, it’s really not uncommon for electricians to earn closer to a six-figure salary.
The highest paying states for electricians in 2019 are New York ($78K), Alaska ($76K), D.C. ($76K), Illinois ($75K), and Hawaii ($75K). The industries you’ll be paid the bigger bucks are Natural Gas Distribution ($103K), Personal Households ($88K), Land Subdivision ($84K), and Real Estate ($79K).