There are few practical professions as solid and secure as that of an electrician. Electricity quite literally powers the world, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon so if you’re looking for a career that’s going to take you through to retirement, it’s a great option, particularly if you’re naturally good with your hands and have a lot of patience.
But before we get into the specifics of how to get started on your path to becoming a fully licensed electrician, let’s start with the basics.
What Does An Electrician Do?
There is far more to an electrician’s job than just connecting wires (though of course, that is a part of it). For starters, there are lots of different types of electricians that specialize in different systems.
Maintenance electricians, for example, typically work on an industrial scale whereas some electricians specialize in commercial installations or maintaining streetlights.
Whatever kind of electrician you are, however, you’ll need to be able to read and write wiring diagrams and blueprints, create detailed plans, be aware of and follow local municipal electrical codes and know how to test and repair equipment.
It’s a deep job and there are many facets to it. But if you feel like you might have what it takes, how do you go about earning your stripes as an electrician?
How To Become An Electrician
1. Graduate high school – While you don’t need a college degree to become an electrician you will need a high school diploma or the equivalent. Every day electricians must use math, English and physics to do their work so it’s vital to have a foundational understanding of these concepts.
2. Attend a trade school – While this isn’t 100% necessary, attending a trade school specializing in electrical technology or earning a career diploma as an electrician can really help you with a solid foundation for your career. Most states also allow students to substitute education for hours spent on the job when it comes to obtaining a journeyman license.
3. Apply for an apprenticeship – You must complete an apprenticeship to become a licensed electrician whether you attended a trade school or not. You can find apprenticeships either through the trade school or through your local apprenticeship union. There are non-union routes, but we’d always recommend going with the union, if possible.
4. Get licensed – Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship of around 10,000 hours you can apply for your certificate to become a fully licensed electrician. This typically takes around 5 years, and the requirements vary depending on your state or city of residence so do your research.
Gather Your Tools And Equipment
Before setting up shop you need to ensure you have all the necessary tools. Everything from power cords to wire strippers and everything in between. Having a fully stocked toolbox is what will set you apart from other electricians so don’t skimp on it.
Go the extra mile and get that head torch for getting into dark crawl spaces and that electrical wall chaser for cutting narrow holes into walls that can be easily caulked over. And ensure that all your tools are insulated, for obvious reasons!