Tips and tricks on how to become an electrician in 2024

Last updated: July 23, 2024
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Tips and tricks on how to become an electrician in 2024
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Do you dream of a career that combines hands-on work with technical knowledge? While many jobs offer hands-on work, one that stands out is becoming a licensed electrician. Electricians are a vital part of many industries and help keep our homes and businesses running smoothly.

This article will cover all the facts you should know on how to become an electrician, including the general timeline and helpful tips for success. With the proper preparation, you can make your dreams of becoming an electrician a reality.

What is an electrician?

An electrician is a skilled tradesperson specializing in installing and maintaining electrical systems. Electricians are responsible for wiring homes, businesses, and other buildings for power, lighting, and other uses. Becoming an electrician requires a significant deal of knowledge about electricity and safety precautions.

There are over 1,161,437 electricians employed in the US as of 2023, and they are divided into three main categories: residential electricians, commercial electricians, and industrial electricians. Let's look at each of these types of electricians in more detail.

Residential electricians

Residential electricians are responsible for installing and maintaining electrical systems in residential homes and apartments. They typically make repairs, install new electrical wiring and fixtures, or replace old ones. They must also be able to troubleshoot issues with existing systems and figure out the best solution for each situation.

Commercial electricians

Commercial electricians are trained to handle the larger and more complex electrical systems found in commercial buildings such as offices, stores, factories, hospitals, and other business establishments. They install and maintain lighting fixtures, power outlets, fire alarms, security systems, and all other things requiring electricity.

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Industrial electricians

Another specialized type of electrician is the industrial electrician. These professionals work in factories and other extensive production facilities to install, maintain, and troubleshoot electrical systems. They must be well-versed in various complex electrical systems, including high-voltage and low-voltage wiring used in large-scale industrial operations.

Each of these roles has its own set of skills and licensing requirements. It is essential to understand the differences between them before beginning the journey toward becoming an electrician.

Duties and responsibilities of an electrician

Electricians are responsible for a variety of tasks, such as installing, troubleshooting, and repairing electrical systems. This includes wiring and connecting conduits, outlets, switches, circuit breakers, and other components. Other standard electrician tasks include:

Installing safety features.

One of the primary responsibilities of electricians is to ensure the electrical system's safety. This includes installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, checking for potential hazards, and ensuring safety protocols are followed.

Testing electrical systems

Electricians also use special equipment to test electrical systems and ensure proper operation. This includes checking for the correct voltage, testing circuits and wiring, and troubleshooting any issues that may arise. Electrical systems can be at risk of malfunctioning or even causing fires without proper testing.

Troubleshooting electrical issues

Electricians are also responsible for diagnosing and repairing any electrical issues that arise. This can involve identifying faulty wiring, replacing damaged components, or even rewiring an entire system.

Installing electrical systems

Electricians are also responsible for installing new electrical systems in buildings and homes. This can include wiring for both high and low-voltage systems, as well as special wiring for power outlets and lighting circuits.

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Reading blueprints

Working as an electrician requires a vast skill set, including reading and understanding complex diagrams. Electricians must also be able to read and interpret blueprints. This is important for understanding how the system should be installed, as well as how it should be maintained in the future.

Performing regular maintenance

Finally, electricians also perform routine maintenance on existing electrical systems. This can be for both residential and commercial establishments and involves testing all components to ensure they are working correctly. This is typically required before any real estate transactions are finalized.

These are just a glimpse of the duties and responsibilities of an electrician. These are usually learned through on-the-job training, as well as through courses in electrical engineering.

Timeline to becoming an electrician

One of the most common questions people have about becoming an electrician is how long it takes. Generally, the timeline for going from novice to journeyman electrician can take anywhere from four to five years. Here is an in-depth look at the timeline:

Earn a high school diploma or GED

The first phase to becoming an electrician is earning a high school diploma or GED. This is a fundamental educational requirement for anyone interested in starting a career in the electrical field, as most electrician apprenticeship programs require applicants to have this qualification.

Research and choose a school or apprenticeship program

The next step is to research and choose an appropriate electrician apprenticeship program. This can be done through online research or visiting local trade schools or community colleges. Though it varies between states, most electrician schools require around 700 to 900 hours of classroom instruction time. It is crucial to research and ensure the program you choose is the right one for your needs.

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Enroll in an approved apprenticeship program

Once you have chosen an electrician school or apprenticeship program, you will need to enroll in it. This is typically done by submitting an application and providing transcripts or other proof of your education requirements. While the requirements vary depending on the state, most apprenticeship programs offer 8,000 hours of training. Most electricians complete 2,000 annually, resulting in a 4 to 5-year completion time.

Obtain the necessary certifications and licenses

Most states require electricians to obtain specific certificates and licenses to practice in their state. This typically involves taking a written certification exam and sometimes a practical test, depending on your state's requirements. It’s important to note that some tests will have an exam fee or application fee, though this varies between institutions.

Once you have completed the necessary requirements and obtained your certification, you will be eligible to work as a journeyman electrician. A journeyman electrician is a person who has completed their apprenticeship and is now qualified to work independently under the supervision of a master electrician. This role is the first step in becoming an experienced electrician and is integral to your professional development.

Tips on how to become an electrician

Now that you know the general timeline and requirements needed to become an electrician, here are some tips on how to make the process easier.

Set aside time for research

Many people underestimate the importance of researching the electrician field before diving into a career change. Taking the time to research apprenticeship programs, certifications, and other requirements can make all the difference in your success.

Consider attending a technical school

Technical schools are a great way to gain the knowledge, job experience, and skills required to become an electrician without the hefty price tag associated with typical four-year universities. These schools typically offer a variety of electrician-specific courses and apprenticeship programs that can help you kickstart your career.

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Develop problem-solving skills

Electricians must be able to identify and troubleshoot electrical issues quickly, so strong problem-solving skills are necessary. Consider taking classes in mathematics, engineering, or other related fields to help give you an edge.

Commit to safety

Safety is one of the most vital aspects of a successful electrician’s career, as this type of role often involves working with dangerous and hazardous materials. Make sure you take the time to learn about safety protocols and procedures, as this will help protect both yourself and your clients.

Be prepared to work in small spaces

Electricians often work in cramped and confined spaces or from extreme heights, so it’s essential to be comfortable working in these types of environments. Ensure you have the necessary equipment, such as ladders and harnesses, to ensure your safety. Most companies will provide you with these items, but it’s always wise to be prepared.

Develop a solid understanding of electrical components

Becoming an electrician requires a solid understanding of electrical components and systems. Make sure to take the time to learn about electrical circuits, wiring diagrams, and related terminology. This will help you identify potential issues more quickly and efficiently, leading to better job performance.

Maintain a good attitude & be willing to learn

Electricians often work in teams, so having a positive attitude is essential. Be willing to learn from more experienced electricians and take their advice, as this will help you become a better electrician over time. Also, maintaining good relationships with clients is essential for success, so excellent customer service skills are necessary.

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Build a strong resume and portfolio

One of the most integral steps in becoming an electrician is creating a strong resume and portfolio that showcases your skills. Make sure to include any relevant education, experience, certifications, or work as an electrician apprentice, as this will help you stand out from the competition. Additionally, having a portfolio of completed projects can be incredibly beneficial for electricians looking for jobs.

Join a professional organization

Joining a professional organization, such as the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), can be incredibly useful for electricians. Not only will you stay up to date on industry trends and practices, but you’ll also be able to network with other electricians who can help you develop your career.

Get involved in the community

Getting involved in your local community can be incredibly beneficial for electricians looking to build their reputation. Consider joining a local electrical association or volunteering for a related charity. This will not only help you build your network but will also highlight your commitment to the trade.

Becoming an electrician can be a rewarding and lucrative career path, but it requires patience and dedication to succeed. Utilizing the tips and tricks outlined here will help you get on the correct track toward becoming a qualified electrician.

Salary and job demand for electricians

As with any career, salary and job demand for electricians are important factors. Several factors can influence the job market for electricians, such as their level of certification and experience, though there is a general trend of increased demand and higher salaries.

According to recent findings from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of electricians is projected to grow 7% over the decade, which is about as quick as the average for all occupations. Looking at this data, it’s clear that an electrician's role remains important and in demand.

The average earnings for an electrician in the US are $53,616 as of 2023. However, salaries vary based on experience and location. For example, more experienced electricians in large cities may earn around $60,000, while those just starting may reach closer to $45,000.

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It’s important to remember that wages are also affected by overtime and bonuses, so electricians who work additional hours may see a salary increase. This is especially true for those working on larger projects or in more populated areas.

Regardless of wage, electricians are in high demand and serve an important role in our society. As technology advances and new construction projects arise, the need for skilled electricians is ever-increasing. Electricians can look forward to job security and a bright future with a combination of technical skills, dedication, and the right certifications.

Start your career as an electrician today

Electricians are trained and highly skilled professionals who work to install and maintain electrical systems. Becoming an electrician requires patience and dedication, as there are several time-consuming steps in the training process. On average, it takes approximately four years to become a fully certified electrician, as both classroom and on-the-job training are necessary.

If you're ready to make a career transition into the electrical field, focus on building your portfolio, getting involved in the community, and joining a professional organization. Be sure to check out the Getting Hired Resource Center for job-seeking tips, best practices, and more.

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