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, then remember to consider your tuition as a return on investment in relation to what you can earn after graduation.
Let’s break down the training cost of becoming an electrician.
How Much is Electrician School?
The cost of your school will depend on which educational route you choose. The most expensive training will be through a trade school, which can run upwards of $30,000 before financial aid, but it's typically the fastest route to starting work.
Community college can cost you an average of $2,500 per semester (you'll attend for 3-4 semesters). Colleges and universities will run you around $10,000 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 throughout your years as a student.
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 for?
The length of time an electrician's schooling takes depends on the type of program he or she is enrolled in.
- Apprenticeship: About 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: As few as 10 months.
- Community College: Community college programs take around two years if you’re a full-time student.
Once you finish training, you will be career-ready as an electrician apprentice and can begin work. It will take approximately 2 more years to reach journeyman status, where you can work more freely on your own. So, all in, with your program plus an apprenticeship, it can take up to six years to become a journeyman electrician.
Find an electrician school near you now.
How Much Does an Electrical Apprenticeship Cost?
If you're considering the apprenticeship training route, you may be pleased by the cost, which ranges from free (in some instances), to a few hundred dollars per year. The cost of being an apprentice gets offset by the fact that you typically end up getting paid for the 2,000 hours per years of OJT (on-the-job training). There are two main types of electrical apprenticeships to take: union and non-union.
While union apprenticeships come with so many great benefits, like retirement benefits, 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 IBEW. Once you’re in the union, you have to pay its yearly dues and follow strict union rules. 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 and able to work with other shops that are outside of unions.
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 any specifics. The cost of the licensing exam for electricians can range 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 an hour. As with any job, the more experience and knowledge you gain, the more you can earn too.
Once you become a journeyman, which means you’ve completed your apprenticeship and are a licensed electrician, you can expect for your earnings to increase noticeably. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average annual pay for electricians in 2021 was $63,310, with the top 10% making $99,800 (bls.gov).
According to bls.gov, the highest paying states for electricians in 2021 were:
- Illinois: $83,140
- New York: $81,700
- Oregon: $81,200
- Alaska: $79,980
- New Jersey: $79,940
Also per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industries you’ll be paid the bigger bucks in industries such as Natural Gas Distribution ($104,920) and Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events ($101,740).