Becoming an Electrician in Pennsylvania
Construction is one of Pennsylvania’s largest industries, and auxiliary construction trades like electrician are a vital part of the job.
Electricians are essential workers with a huge responsibility that goes beyond keeping the lights on. Learning how to become an electrician in PA is an excellent way to get started on this career path.
Education & Training
To become an electrician in Pennsylvania, you do not need a college degree. However, you must receive sufficient training and experience. You can earn this by attending a trade school or community college with an electrician training program and serving as an apprentice underneath a licensed contractor.
Students have to be 18 years or older to begin formal electrician training in PA.
Accredited institutions provide certified coursework and hands-on training with the correct tools and equipment to meet industry standards. Always check to make sure the college or trade school you attend is state-approved.
A couple of cities with electrician programs in PA include:
After graduating, you should receive a certificate in electrical technology.
Some students choose to stay in school longer and continue to learn more about the industry as it develops and grows.
Those who graduate college to be electricians typically leave with an associate degree in applied science.
Electrician training programs aim to give students the knowledge and skills they need to provide reliable services to their customers and communities.
There are a few requirements to attend most training programs. You must be able to:
- Understand basic math
- Have good hand/eye coordination
- See and identify colors
- Stand, bend, squat, and kneel as needed
- Lift and carry up to 25 lbs
Electrician School Topics
Most electrician school courses cover basic math and physics principles. Future electricians also learn how to install, repair and maintain systems, examine electrical units, and estimate the cost of a job.
Some of the courses you may take involve:
- Basics of Electricity
- Residential and Commercial Wiring
- National Electrical Code
- Technical Math
- Installing and Inspecting
How Much Does Electrician Training in PA Cost?
Tuition costs for electrician training programs vary by institution. Most schools and colleges charge between a thousand and a couple thousand dollars.
Students often apply for scholarships or financial aid to afford smaller monthly payments. Electricians generally make a decent amount of money, so paying loans off may take less time than paying off most four-year degrees.
How Long is Training?
You can complete an electrician training program in as little as six months, though some courses take up to a year to finish. Associate degrees in applied science typically take two years.
After completing your training, you become an entry-level worker and begin your career with an apprenticeship or as an electrician’s helper.
Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical systems to power various communication, lighting, and control fixtures.
Hospitals, schools, factories, businesses, homes, and residential areas rely on these workers to supply the power that keeps their operations running. Electricians are also responsible for restoring power after outages.
Once they have the required experience and licensure, electricians have several job opportunities they can pursue.
Some qualified electricians choose to be self-employed and open their own businesses. However, others prefer to work with the local government or join an existing electric company.
Electrical work is hands-on, so you can expect to perform physical tasks in a variety of environments. There are some potential dangers of working with electricity, which is why proper training and education are so important.
Those looking for more specialized jobs in this industry might consider work in electrical engineering, refrigeration, HVAC, and telecommunications.
Pennsylvania Electrician License Requirements
While there are no statewide licensing requirements for professional electricians in Pennsylvania, you must possess a license to perform electrical work within your jurisdiction.
Therefore, individual cities and counties handle the license requirements for apprentices, journeyman electricians, and electrical contractors.
Most cities have similar requirements for each type of license, and you can check with your local government to verify what they are.
Overall, there are three ways you can become a licensed professional electrician in Pennsylvania:
- Complete an apprenticeship program and earn 3-5 years of on-the-job experience, plus 750-900 hours of classroom time.
- Graduate from a community college or trade school with a certificate in electrical technology and receive 2 years of field experience.
- Work under the direct supervision of an electrical contractor for 10 years or more.
Step one in becoming a licensed electrician in PA is to become an apprentice. You must be 18 years or older, have a high school diploma or GED, and have passed at least one year of high school algebra.
Most apprentices also must take an aptitude test involving basic math and reading skills.
If you go through an accredited training program, you might be able to land an apprenticeship quite easily. Most apprenticeships include classroom education and on-the-job experience where you work directly under a contractor.
You might become an apprentice via a union sponsor or go through a local contractor affiliated with electrician state organizations.
After being an apprentice for a few years, you can apply to become a journeyman electrician.
Some cities allow you to skip this step of the process and may not even offer this licensing option in your jurisdiction. However, most contractors refuse to hire individuals who lack apprenticeship or internship experience.
To get a journeyman electrician license in PA, you must:
- Have about 4 years of experience
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Complete an application with the city
- Pass the journeyman exam
Journeyman licenses expire after one year. You must renew your license for a fee each year around the same time or face losing it.
Some cities recognize the licensing from other areas, too. After working for at least two years as a journeyman electrician, you can apply for an independent electrical contractor’s license.
All cities in Pennsylvania require workers to apply for a master electrician’s license before they can do electrical work. Once they earn this credential, these workers can perform almost any job in the industry.
Requirements to apply for a license as a master electrician in PA vary by city but mostly include:
- Passing the electrical contractor exam with a 70% or higher
- 4 years of experience as an electrician or completion of an electrician training program with 2 years of experience
- Liability insurance of $300k or more
- Photo ID(s)
- Proof of registering for city taxes
You can purchase your electrical contractor license after passing the exam. Licenses expire after one year, so you must renew them to keep working as a master electrician.
With this license, you can hire your own team and freelance various jobs throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
Electrician Licensing Costs
Fees to take the journeyman and master electrician exams vary by city and change annually. Costs also differ between new applications, renewals, and potential late fees.
To find more information about what it costs to become a licensed electrician in PA, try visiting your city government’s website.
Electrician Salaries in Pennsylvania
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average pay for electricians in the United States in May 2021 was $28.87 an hour, or $60,040 annually. However, the typical electrician salary in Pennsylvania is higher than the national average, with an hourly wage of $33.01, or $68,660.
As an entry-level electrician, you typically start out making close to $41,700 a year.
Over time, more training, experience, and licensing can lead to higher wages if you work for a local or government entity and increased revenue if you run your own company. Some experienced electricians in PA earn as much as $81,950 annually.
Salaries by City
Electricians can earn more or less than the average salary depending on how much work they do and whether they work for an organization, themselves, or the government.
The following chart depicts the average annual earnings of an electrician in different cities in Pennsylvania:
Electricians are highly skilled workers with good job stability. Demand for this occupation is consistent and sometimes higher in some areas than others.
Nationally, the BLS expects about 84,700 job openings for electricians annually between 2020 and 2030. This equates to a 9% growth rate for the occupation, which is about as fast as most careers.
Pennsylvania alone could see a 7.2% rise in electrician jobs between 2018 and 2028, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. This totals about 2,948 openings due to people switching careers or leaving the workforce entirely. As a licensed electrician, you should expect rising demand for your work along with generous pay.