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The Essential Guide To Electrical Apprenticeships

Updated on September 11, 2012

Why Do An Electrical Apprenticeship?

It's never been a better time to become an electrician, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting unprecedented growth in the electrical industry in the next ten years. While you have many options to realize your aims of becoming an electrician, in my opinion there's no better way to go about it than to do an electrical apprenticeship.

When you do an electrical apprenticeship, you'll be getting in-class technical training as well as expert guidance from highly experienced electricians. While you gain practical working experience in your apprenticeship, you'll also be paid a good wage for the work that you do.

Ultimately, that means that you'll get a massive head start both income-wise and career-wise compared to most of your peers.

Electrical Apprenticeship Requirements

Before you are able to apply for an electrical apprenticeship, you'll first need to meet a number of requirements:

- Be at least 18 years old

- Have a high school certificate or GED

- Have completed a year of algebra

- Achieve the minimum score on the aptitude test

- Do not use drugs

In addition to the requirements listed above, there are also a few desirable attributes that interviewers look for in an apprentice electrician:

1. Color Vision

One thing that an electrician absolutely must have is color vision. Electrical wires are color coded, and you need to be able to tell them apart to be able to do your job well.

2. Problem Solving Abilities

A big part of any electrician's job is to translate electrical systems from blueprint to construction. To do so, you'll need to be able to fix problems that crop up along the way and come up with creative solutions to set these systems up properly.

3. People Skills

Being an electrician isn't just about putting in wires and sorting out electrical systems. A big part of your job will be to work with other construction workers as well as clients and project managers as well, and to do so you'll need good communication and relational skills.

Your Electrical Apprenticeship Options

You have a number of options when it comes to doing an electrical apprenticeship, including:

1. Union Apprenticeship Program

The Union Apprenticeship Program is developed by the National Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee for the Electrical Industry (NJATC), which comprises of both the International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

This is one of the top apprenticeship programs around, with excellent future job prospects and an above average rate of pay. However, it's certainly not easy to get into as you will need to go through a tough selection process to be selected.

2. Locally Sponsored Apprenticeship Programs

These apprenticeship programs are mainly sponsored by large electrical companies in the state, and are designed to train up their entry level employees. These are perfect for anyone seeking stable, long-term employment in the electrical industry.

It's important to bear in mind that this program focuses more on functioning within a team rather than independent contracting work, so if you wish to become an independent electrical contractor in the future then this program is not for you.

3. Military Electrician Apprenticeship

The U.S. Military offers qualified candidates the opportunity to train as an electrician in the army, air force, navy or marines. However, this program is not easy to get in to as you will need to take the ASVAB aptitude test to qualify for a position.

Doing a military electrician apprenticeship is an attractive opportunity that pays significantly more than a civilian apprenticeship and provides you with many additional skills and experiences. Once you have completed your mandatory service period, you have the option to either continue in the military or move into civilian employment.

Selecting Your Electrical Specialty

For your electrical apprenticeship, you'll be able to pick a specialty to focus on. Here are the four common specializations you can choose from:

1. Outside Lineman

An outside lineman is typically concerned with transferring power from power stations to the local service areas through high voltage power lines.

2. Inside Wireman

An inside wireman is generally concerned with bringing power from the source to the various electrical systems within industrial and commercial buildings.

3. Installer Technician

An installer technician works to install and configure communication and data networks for any new construction.

4. Residential Wireman

A residential wireman does essentially the same job as the inside wireman, except that they focus on residential work instead.

Becoming A Licensed Electrician

A typical apprenticeship will take up to four years to complete, and that includes 144 hours of in-class training as well as 2,000 hours of paid work experience each year. Once you have completed your apprenticeship period, you will need to take the electrician licensing exam to be fully qualified as an electrician.

To pass the electrician exam, you will need to study the National Electrical Code and become very familiar with all the relevant safety standards and guidelines it contains. Additionally, you will need to be up to speed with your state and local safety rules and regulations as well.

Once you pass your electrician exam and get your electrical license, your electrical apprenticeship will be officially over and you’ll be recognized as a proper electrician at last!

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    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Very informative! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      Very helpful information!