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What Is It Like To Be An Apprentice Electrician?

Updated on August 1, 2015

Before you make the important career decision to become an electrician it's a good idea to know exactly what you're getting into from the get go.

After spending 25 years in the electrical construction industry as a journeyman electrician, supervisor and service manager, I can give you some solid insights as to what to expect along the way.

First off, becoming a journeyman electrician is a great job to aspire to. It not only pays well, but being an electrician is considered to be one of the best trades in the entire construction field.

Electrical workers are generally highly regarded by trade's people and by other areas of society as well. Installing electrical systems is challenging work that not everyone has the ability and aptitude to be competent at.

Becoming a journeyman electrician is not that easy. An electrical apprenticeship program is going to take you four years to complete and typically will involve attending 3 hour classes a couple of nights a week. That's after you are done working as an apprentice electrician all day.

You will have your summers off but four years of going to school at nights can get to be a grind to say the least. You will have to attend the classes as your school time will be well documented along with your on-the-job working hours out in the field.

What Should an Apprentice Electrician Expect During the First Year?

A lot will depend on the size of the electrical contractor that you become affiliated with during your apprenticeship program, what type of electrical work they specialize in and what kind of jobs are currently on their plate.

A first year apprentice will often find themselves on the end of a shovel or doing other mindless and repetitive tasks. This can be hard to deal with, especially when you know you are capable of more.

Keep in mind that this necessary work needs to be done by someone and apprentice electricians are the ones that are required to do it. Consider your first year to be an initiation into the electrical construction industry.

Your supervisors will be watching you closely to see if you are willing to "pay your dues", so to speak.

The three main questions they will be looking to answer for themselves about you are....

  1. How reliable are you?
  2. Do you have a non-complaining, can-do attitude?
  3. Are you willing to work hard?

An electrical contractor will be investing a significant amount of time and money training you to become a journeyman electrician. They want to find out sooner, rather than later, if you are a keeper or not.

Requiring you to perform these mundane tasks is a way for them to test your resolve and character.

When Does an Electrician Apprenticeship Get Easier?

Once you've made it through your first year, things begin to get much easier.

You will be given more interesting and challenging tasks to complete with less and less supervision.

By your 3rd and 4th year you may be doing some of your own supervising, again depending on the size and needs of the contractor you are working for.

By the end of your fourth year, it will be time to make sure all of your classroom and on-the-job hours are documented and turned in. You will then be ready to take the State Journeyman Electricians exam.

This is what a typical, 4 year, electrician apprenticeship program will be like. There are of course, other ways to approach the process of becoming an electrician.

One such way is to enroll in a trade or vo-tech school. Or maybe even your local community college has an electrician apprenticeship program.

Go here to find out if one of these options might be a good choice for you.

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