After completing electrical training, you’ll be required to complete an apprenticeship. An electrician apprenticeship provides the necessary work experience and hands-on training that you can’t receive in the classroom. The programs are designed to have you make a living, learn valuable on-the-job experience, and complete the education requirements needed to become a licensed electrician. 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
Not just anybody can land an electrician apprenticeship; you'll need to meet some basic requirements before applying. Specific requirements can vary from state to state, but most will require that you have completed at least the equivalent of tenth grade. Others may require you to hold a high school diploma or GED.
Once you're sure you meet the requirements, you'll want to put together a professional resume and begin researching apprenticeship openings 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, see about entering an apprenticeship with that company. Otherwise, be prepared to interview competitively for an 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).
What It's Like Working As An 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. Just as importantly, you'll learn the jargon and terminology used every day by electricians on the job, which will surely come in handy down the road.
If you took any electrical trade 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.
When working as an electrician's apprentice, you shouldn't expect to be compensated at the rate of a licensed electrician. Instead, you will make about 40-50 percent of that.
The median annual salary for electricians is $54K, so you will still be making a living wage at approximately $21,000-26,000 per year. Your pay will increase throughout the apprenticeship, too. Don’t be too concerned about the money at this point; view the apprenticeship as a valuable opportunity to gain a free education.
How Long Is An Apprenticeship?
Generally, an electrician 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 necessary 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 from one apprenticeship to the next, and individual states may have their own requirements in this regard as well. Either way, you should be prepared to spend a fair amount of time working as an apprentice before you can begin working solo.
On To The Future
Overall, securing a position as an electrician's apprentice can be a great way to learn the skills necessary to become an electrician down the road without having to shell out thousands or more for a formal education. Now, all that's left to do is begin searching for your ideal apprenticeship!