In this post, we’ll discuss the specific requirements to entering the trades and becoming an electrician: age, education, and so on.
Definitions and Terms
Before we list the electrician requirements, here’s a review of some important facts and terms from some of our other posts:
- A licensed electrician is called a journeyman electrician. He or she has completed an electrical apprenticeship, and can take on any kind of electrician work.
- An electrical apprenticeship takes about four to five years to complete. Apprentices work 40-hour workweeks under the instruction of a licensed electrician, get paid for the work they do, and go to classes (usually one night a week) for further instruction.
- After a person gets his or her journeyman license, he or she can continue studying and become a master electrician. Master electricians earn a lot more than journeymen, and are at the top of the electrician pay scale.
So you’ll need to get an apprenticeship in order to become a licensed journeyman electrician.
Your next question is probably about…
Requirements To Become An Apprentice
There are different requirements in each state, but most (if not all) states have the following requirements:
- You must be 18 years of age. No exceptions.
- You must have a high school diploma. Many apprentice programs will also accept a high school equivalency degree, such as a GED;
- You must have taken and passed high school algebra. Some states require you to have a grade of “C” or higher; others do not. Note: A pre-algebra class usually doesn’t meet this requirement—it needs to be a full year of high school algebra;
- Most apprentice programs require you to have a driver’s license in the state where you are applying for the apprenticeship;
- Many states have a mandatory drug test that you’ll need to pass;
- There may be requirements about criminal history, so if you’ve been convicted of a crime—either a misdemeanor or a felony—that’s something you’ll need to discuss with the apprenticeship organizer; and finally
- Some apprentice programs explicitly state that you must be physically able to perform that tasks of an electrician, but that’s kind of a given.
Again, those are the most common requirements. There may be different requirements in your state, so be sure to contact your local apprenticeship organizer to find out the specifics.
Keep in mind, apprenticeships aren’t given to just anyone. You’ll have to visit one of the apprenticeship organization near you, go through a round of interviews, and pass an exam (which can be pretty difficult, so you’ll need to study up on that algebra!).
Electrician School Requirements
If you decide to go to an electrician school before your apprenticeship, you’ll need to meet a few qualifications.
Every single school is different, but most require a high school diploma or GED… and that’s it!
Remember, technically, you don’t need to go to school to become an electrician. There are plenty of electricians who skip school entirely, and start an apprenticeship program.
However, because it can be difficult to nab an internship, some people go to school to bulk up their resume, get some experience, and learn the math they’ll need to know to pass the apprenticeship exam.
What Else Should I Know?
So, those are the technical requirements that are legally based. What about some of the “unofficial” requirements you’ll need to become an electrician? Let’s take a look.
People Skills. There are a lot times you’ll work alone as an electrician, but those times won’t occur very often during your apprenticeship. There is a lot of interaction both between the apprentice and his/her instructor, and the apprentice and whatever crew he/she is working with. Very often, those crews can be huge, so having basic people skills is pretty important.
Physical Ability. We’re not talking about brute strength—there are plenty of female electricians who don’t weigh much and are excellent electricians—but you need to be able to be on your feet all day. It’s a physical job, and a willingness to be in constant movement is necessary.
Problem Solving Skills. On every job you’ll ever take, there will be problems that pop up. If you’re an electrician for one day or for fifty years, you’ll always be encountering problems. Can you look at problems as challenges that need to be solved, and get to the bottom of things? If you can do that, you’ll be a VERY successful electrician.
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