After finishing your electrical training, you’ll be required to complete an apprenticeship. An electrician apprenticeship provides the necessary work experience and hands-on training that you don't typically receive in the classroom. The programs are designed to help you make a living, while you earn valuable on-the-job experience, and complete the educational requirements needed to become licensed. You will work side-by-side with a licensed and experienced electrician, with the opportunity to learn the ropes firsthand.
How to Find an Apprenticeship
Before applying to an apprenticeship, you have some basic requirements you'll need to meet. Specifics vary from state to state, but most will require at least a high school diploma or GED equivalent. You'll also want to produce a professional resume and begin researching apprenticeships available in your area.
Apprenticeship programs are offered by local unions and their affiliates, as well as non-union contractors.
If you know of a licensed electrician who wouldn't mind taking you under his or her wing, ask about entering an apprenticeship with that company. Otherwise, be prepared to interview competitively for a union apprenticeship opening.
One of the more well-known apprenticeships is a joint training program between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). NECA sponsors over 300 joint training apprenticeship programs. This joint program in particular is referred to as the Electrical Training Alliance (previously called JATC).
Working as an Electrician Apprentice
When working as an electrician apprentice, you can expect to get lots of hands-on experience. This could involve anything from helping an electrician replace an existing electrical box to wiring a new addition to an existing home or building. Also, you'll become familiar with terminology and everyday jargon used by electricians while on the job.
If you attended electrical trade school or took classes in high school or at a community college, you may also find that working as an apprentice is an excellent opportunity for you to put what you learned in the classroom into practice.
During your apprenticeship, it is important to remember that you will not yet earn the salary of a licensed electrician. Apprentices generally make about half the salary of electricians, and your pay can certainly increase throughout your apprenticeship. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, apprentices in 2021 made between $28,000-$31,000.
How Long is an Electrical Apprenticeship?
Generally, an electrician's apprenticeship is completed in four stages, with each stage taking about a year to complete. Therefore, most apprentices find that by the end of the fourth year, they have the experience and preparation needed to become licensed. Formally, apprenticeships include 144 hours of class time and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training.
Of course, this can vary depending on your state, and the individual apprenticeship program. Just know that you will spend a fair amount of time working as an apprentice, gaining all of the necessary skills and knowledge, before you can work solo.
On to the Future
Securing a position as an electrician's apprentice can be a great way to gain experience and work toward your future - without finding yourself thousands of dollars in debt from a university education. All that is left to do is begin searching for your ideal apprenticeship!