Before exploring this topic, it is incredibly important to note that it is necessary in some States to have done an apprenticeship if you are to qualify for a journeyman electrician license. Find out from your local licensing department about the laws of your particular State before you start your venture into becoming an electrician.
This is especially important in cases where your aim is to own your own business or to become a Master Electrician, as you will most likely have to prove that you have done an apprenticeship in order for you to be viable for these licenses.
Apprenticeships can be hard to find, especially in areas where becoming an electrician is a popular job choice. Some schools and technical colleges offer apprenticeships as part and parcel of the formal education you will receive, so it is a good idea to start searching there. You can also find out from local unions whether they offer apprenticeships, or whether they might recommend one. Union apprenticeships are also great ways of finding jobs. Another option is to scour local job listings for any openings at companies in your region. Sometimes, Master Electricians will take on apprentices, so be sure to ask around as well.
You can, however, become an electrician without doing an apprenticeship in some States. If you do not want to wait (an apprenticeship can take up to four years to complete, depending on whether you have decided to specialize or not) and would like to jump right in, the following information might help you.
What Education Is Needed To Become An Electrician?
To become a certified electrician in America, you need to have a high school diploma or General Equivalent. This is absolutely necessary and non-negotiable, as you will be facing a number of tests and exams on your road to becoming a certified electrician. You will need to have a good understanding of algebra, for one, as this is likely to pop up in tests along the way.
The next educational requirement for becoming a certified electrician, is having graduated from a recognized school for electricians. There are a good many schools to choose from. Some focus on one field, while others allow you to gain a general knowledge of a number of fields. Find one that suits you. You can talk to electricians in your area to find out which schools they would recommend, or ask your local union for advice. There are even a number of online options, but make sure that the licensing department recognizes the institution before enrolling.
In most States, you will have to have completed an apprenticeship as part of practical training, so be sure to find out whether your State requires this.
Is Schooling Required To Become An Electrician?
Absolutely. American law dictates that you need to have graduated from an electrician school for you to be issued a license to work unsupervised as an electrician. Unfortunately, this is non-negotiable. But it is both to your benefit and those around you. You will be better able to find a proper job with a valid qualification, and your future clients will be sure to receive the best service possible.
How Many Years Does It Take To Complete Electrician Schooling?
This depends entirely on whether you have decided to specialize in a certain field or not. Your decision of doing an apprenticeship at your school can also add to the amount of time it will take.
In general, it can take anything from 6 to 18 months to complete a course at your electrician school. If you have decided to further your education and specialize in something like machinery, or even a sector such as coal mining, this could take longer.
After you have completed your course, you will need to take an exam at your local licensing department in order for you to operate as a valid electrician. The exam mostly consists of testing your knowledge of the National Electrical Code, as well as your State’s codes and regulations regarding electrical work. You will need to find out what the local testing schedule is.
By taking everything into account, you should be a certified electrician within two years’ time, if you have opted not to do an apprenticeship.
Once again, it is entirely possible to become an electrician without doing an apprenticeship. But be sure to check what the State laws are pertaining to this. Should you like to open your own business later on, your lack of an apprenticeship might count against you when you apply for a business license.
Also, if you should decide to move and work outside of your own State, you might find it more difficult to find a job with major companies without having a recognized apprenticeship on your résumé.
Weigh your options carefully and try to decide early on what your future goals as an electrician might be. You might not need an apprenticeship after all.