Perhaps you’ve decided to kick start a career as an electrician, wondering, “How long does it take to become an electrician?” or “What is the best way to become a licensed electrician?” It’s a great choice because pursuing a career as an electrician can be very rewarding and enriching, especially if it’s your passion. Further, there’s never been a better time to explore a career as an electrician, or as a skilled laborer, for that matter, as there is a major shortage of workers in the construction industry
At MatchBuilt, we know how the scarcity of skilled labor, especially electricians, impacts our clients’ businesses, most of which are general residential construction contractors. In fact, the construction industry in the United States needs more than half a million workers above its current pace of hiring to meet demand this year, which should last into the next decade.
That said, there really isn’t a better time to explore a career as an electrician as both compensation and demand are at peak levels and will be there for years to come. The first step to understanding how long it takes to become an electrician is to understand the career path that’s best for you and what classroom training and electrical apprenticeships are right for you.
How long does it take to become an electrician?
It takes an average of four to five years to become an electrician. In many states, it takes 8000 hours of being mentored by a journeyman and an appropriate education before you can get licensed.
How do you become an electrician?
It may be easier than you realize to become a journeyman. First, get your high school degree and recommended pre-apprenticeship training at a trade school. Then, complete a paid, multi-year apprenticeship. Finally, get licensed or certified (if required).
In this article, you’ll learn everything your need to know about available careers and how to become an electrician.
- Timing: How long does it take to get an electrician’s license?
- Training programs: What is an electrician apprenticeship program, and how many years of experience do you need?
- Trade schools: What educational programs are available at an electrician trade school, community college, or vocational school?
- Degrees: Do I need a high school diploma? Is a college degree necessary? Do I need an associate degree?
- Certificates: What certificate programs and trade school programs are right for me?
- Licenses: Do I need an electrical contractor license?
- Career options: What independent electrical contractors will I work for, or can I be my own boss?
What Does an Electrician Do?
Some of the responsibilities of an electrician include:
- Read technical and wiring diagrams
- Test and maintain electrical equipment
- Identify the suitable electrical equipment for buildings
- Inspect electrical systems and understand electrical theory
- Perform emergency electrical repairs
- Troubleshoot issues within electrical systems
- Learn and ensure that state and local regulations regarding electrical systems are adhered to
- Train and manage other electrical workers
Things to Consider Before Deciding to Become an Electrician
Becoming an electrician requires considerable effort to gain the necessary skills and experience and get licensed. It’s something you should commit to when you’re sure you sincerely want to venture into this line of work. If you’re thinking of becoming an electrician, consider the following.
Your Will and Ability to Deal with Challenges
Being an electrician on construction sites can be quite challenging. Like the residential construction managers that we often place, qualified candidates must work long and odd hours and sometimes in dangerous environments. You may also need to follow strict instructions, be very keen on details, and collaborate with others. If you’re up for the challenges, then you can safely go ahead and become an electrician.
Your Level of Education
Your level of education matters when it comes to becoming an electrician as you’re required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Becoming one is almost impossible if you don’t meet this requirement.
As an electrician, you’ll be involved in tasks that require you to stand for long hours. You must be physically fit and healthy to have a rewarding career, and specific tasks can be challenging if you’ve some health issues. Consider whether you’ll be comfortable handling physical work for long hours before you commit to becoming an electrician.
Electricians need to be flexible since an emergency that requires their attention can happen anytime, including during odd hours. Additionally, some days are tough, while others are easy. For example, you could be very busy on a particular day, and the next day you could have little to no work.
If you’re considering getting into the career, ask yourself whether you will be flexible enough to address issues when they arise.
What Are the Different Types of Electricians?
There are several types of electricians. By knowing them and their duties and responsibilities, you’ll be better positioned to choose the exact area of focus. Here’s a brief breakdown.
Types of Electricians Based on Career Levels
Below are the types of electricians based on the levels they go through in their careers.
Apprentice electricians usually work under the supervision of experienced electricians. You gain skills through class work and hands-on training while still being paid when attending electrical apprentice classes. A high school education or its equivalent and license are some of the requirements for being an electrician apprentice.
“How do you become a journeyman electrician?” You must first be an apprentice for a minimum of two years. Once you’ve gained hands-on experience as an apprentice, you can work without much supervision during journeyman electrician training. You are required to have a journeyman license to work at this level. To become a journeyman, just search for journeyman classes near me.
Before starting your master electrician training, you must become an apprentice and a journeyman electrician. At this level, you can supervise those in the apprenticeship and journeyman programs. You need to have a master electrician license to work at this level. Becoming a master electrician gives you extensive skills. To get started, search for “master electrician classes near me” and select the one that meets your expectations.
Types of Electricians Based on Specialization
Below are the types of electricians based on their specialty.
Residential electricians install, maintain, troubleshoot, and upgrade home electrical systems. These include houses, apartments, condos, etc. these electricians may work for electrical contractors or independently.
Commercial electricians work on commercial projects such as offices and are responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting electrical systems within these setups.
Construction electricians deal with installing electrical systems in new buildings. Their responsibilities include performing basic wiring and maintaining safety procedures and building codes.
As the name suggests, automotive electricians deal with vehicles’ electrical systems. These include ignition systems, lighting, air conditioning and heating, transmission, anti-theft systems, etc.
Avionics electricians are responsible for handling an aircraft’s electrical and wiring systems. These include installing and inspecting electrical systems, ensuring that the connections are well insulated, etc.
Industrial electricians work in chemical plants, power plants, manufacturing facilities, and other industrial projects with complex electrical systems. Electricians must get work experience under industrial electricians either in their apprenticeship or journeyman levels.
Types of Electricians Based on Where They Work
The duties of inside wiremen involve working on on-premise electrical wiring. These include installing electrical control panels, fire alarm systems, electrical outlets, lighting fixtures, etc.
An outside lineman is also referred to as a line installer. As the name suggests, an outside lineman deal with outdoor electrical systems such as fiber optics, powerline transmissions, and communication cables.
Since their work often involves working on high-tension lines up to 1000 feet, outside linemen receive extensive safety training, including climb training. Their duties include ensuring that electrical wiring is functioning correctly and conducting repairs when there is a problem.
Benefits of Becoming an Electrician
There are so many benefits that come with being an electrician. Let’s have a look at some of them.
People will always need electricians to install, maintain or repair electrical wiring. That means it is very hard not to have a job when you have the necessary skills.
Electricians usually get good pay and are always in demand, so they rarely run out of work. They can also work long hours just to get that extra income. If you are looking for a trade that offers decent pay, you can never go wrong with becoming an electrician.
Training to become an electrician is affordable compared to going to the university, and it also gives you a chance to get paid while in training. Although what you get during the training period may not be comparable to what full electricians earn, it can still help you make a living as you study.
You Can Become Your Own Boss
If you’ve always wanted to be self-employed, becoming an electrician can help you achieve your dreams. After getting the necessary skills and getting licensed, you don’t need to start looking for a job as you can quickly become your own boss and work on your terms.
How Long Does It Take to Become an Electrician?
On average, becoming an electrician will take four to five years. However, how long it takes depends on several factors, and below are some of them.
- Previous construction or military experience that may help shorten your apprenticeship program
- Having attended an electrical contractor training program which may also qualify you for a shorter apprenticeship program
- A technical school program or relevant associate program that may earn you a shorter apprenticeship
What Are the Steps to Becoming an Electrician?
1. Get A High School Diploma
A high school diploma is one of the electrician training requirements. Having the diploma demonstrates that you understand the basic mathematics, science, English, and soft skills necessary for this career.
So, if you have been asking, “can you be an electrician without a degree?” the answer is yes.
2. Go to Trade School
Consider going to a trade school or vocational college for pre-apprentice training. It will help you understand the basics of an electrical career, and the national electrical code, providing a solid foundation for your progress. Some trade schools offer short programs for up to nine months, while others take a few years.
Although attending a trade school is optional in some states, attending one is advisable and helpful in gaining a solid foundation for an electrician career.
3. Apply For Apprenticeship
You need to apply for an apprenticeship to become an electrician. If you aren’t aware of how to find an apprenticeship, you can do so in a trade school since some offer apprenticeship programs. You can also apply through a union.
When applying for the apprenticeship program, you may be required to do an aptitude test that tests your mathematics and comprehension skills. Apprenticeship combines on-job training, classroom instructions, supervision, and mentorship from a master electrician.
Many have been asking, “can you become a journeyman without apprenticeship?” Unfortunately, you cannot.
4. Pass an Electrician Licensing Exam
You need to pass an electrician licensing exam, just like you would need to if you were trying to become a certified construction manager, depending on your location. The exam tests your knowledge in performing electrical work. Research how often these exams are offered in your area, the registration requirements, and whether you need to pay some fees.
5. Get Licensed
You need to get a license before you start working as an electrician. So, how do you get your electrical license? The requirements for obtaining an electrician license vary from State to State. Therefore, you must research your state’s requirements and ensure you qualify before applying for an electrician license.
Electrician Job Description Example
There are numerous job opportunities available for a professional electrician. Below is an example of a job description for an entry-level industrial electrician.
INDUSTRIAL ELECTRICIAN JOB OPENING
- Minimum 1 year of full-time experience in industrial electrical installation
- Associate’s degree, electrical apprenticeship completion, or related training program certification
- 480VAC / Low voltage DC electrical troubleshooting
- Attention to Detail: The job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks
- Conveyors (air cylinders, diverters, sensors, motor/speed controls)
- Work independently under limited supervision (self-management)
- Maintain the plant’s electrical & mechanical equipment to optimize production
- Schedule preventive maintenance repairs on conveying systems, power transmissions, and other power-driven rotating equipment (computerized preventative charts/data)
- Document work schedule and work tasks completed
- Troubleshoot, install, and repair production equipment that is electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, or pneumatic in nature (e.g., diagnostics, problem-solving, pinpointing, and fixing breakdowns)
- Upgrade production lines with new/upgraded equipment/technology
- Manage electrical spare parts inventory- determine and manage stocking levels
- Assist with the plant preventive maintenance for mechanical and electrical equipment
- Perform electrical troubleshooting and repairs
- Required to exert physical effort in handling objects less than 70 pounds most of the work day
- Required to be exposed to a physical environment that involves dirt, odors, noise, weather extremes, or similar elements occasionally
- 10-hour and 8-hour shifts with weekend availability
- Experience with basic schematics and electrical systems (e.g., level probes, flow meters, drives/VFDs, electrical blueprints, switches, starters, fuses, contacts, maps, relays, installation, frequency drive, troubleshooting)
- Direct & Permanent Job, Weekly Pay, Overtime Opportunities, Medical, Dental, Vision Coverage, & 401(k) Retirement Savings Plan, an opportunity for growth
- Pay: $23.00 per hour
- Dental Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Vision Insurance
Frequently Asked Questions on How Long Does It Take to Become an Electrician
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding education and training.
How long does it take to become an electrician apprentice?
A person’s duration to become an apprentice ranges from state to state. However, it takes an average of four years to become one.
How long does it take to become a journeyman electrician?
It takes approximately six years to become a journeyman electrician, and the period may be longer or lower, depending on where you live.
How long does it take to become a master electrician?
On average, it takes a person seven years to become a master electrician. During this period, a person must take and pass some tests. However, the period also differs from State to State.
How long does it take to become a certified electrician?
It takes a person approximately one year to become a certified electrician. During this period, they must complete all the training requirements to lay a good foundation for a great career.
What education is needed to become an electrician?
A high school diploma or equivalent is required to become an electrician as it provides the essential foundation for a career, such as physics, communications, and maths.
How much does it cost to become an electrician?
The cost of becoming an electrician depends on where you take the program. On average, attending a trade school will cost you $5,000–$15,000 for the entire program, and an apprenticeship program will cost you $250 – $1,420 a year.
What do I need to become an electrician?
To become an electrician, you need to have a high school diploma. Additionally, you need to attend a trade school(optional) and an apprentice program. On top of that, you need to get licensed.
Is it hard to become an electrician?
Many people always ask, “How hard is being an electrician?” Becoming an electrician is challenging; you must study, attend an apprenticeship program for years, and demonstrate considerable work experience to get a license.
How long does it take to train as an electrician?
It takes about four to five years to become an electrician. Students earn all the skills during the apprenticeship program and can advance their skills as they continue working.
Final Thoughts on Becoming an Electrician
Becoming an electrician can be very fulfilling. It’s an exciting career with several benefits, such as good pay and letting you become your boss. However, you must work to succeed, including studying and attending an apprenticeship program for several years.
If you have been wondering, “How many years does it take to become an electrician” or “What are some things to know before becoming one,” understanding each of these will help you make the right decision.