Licensed electricians work in an exciting and challenging field that tests their problem-solving skills. It’s also a well-paying job with solid employment prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the creation of 66,100 electrician positions between 2020 and 2030. With an average salary of $63,310, it’s no wonder electrician is a popular career choice for many!
But before you can begin helping customers with their electrical problems, you will need to finish an electrician apprenticeship. Electrical apprenticeships are a common way to learn the trade while getting valuable real-world experience.
What is an electrician apprenticeship?
An electrical apprenticeship is a program where you will learn the skills necessary to become a licensed electrician. Apprenticeships typically combine classroom instruction with hands-on experience. During your apprenticeship, you will work under an experienced electrician.
Apprenticeships are popular options for learning a trade. Not only do you benefit from the knowledge and experience of other licensed electricians, but you will also be paid to learn.
Most electrician apprenticeship programs in the U.S. take four to six years to complete. This is based on working a full-time schedule, so it will likely take longer to finish if you work part-time instead.
Who can become an electrician apprentice?
There are electrical apprenticeship qualifications that you will need to meet before you can become an apprentice. Though they vary from state to state (and sometimes between cities), generally, you will need to:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Be able to legally work in the U.S.
You may also want to brush up on your math skills before applying for electrician apprenticeships. Basic math skills (like using percentages, decimals, and fractions) are essential to performing electrical work. A community college or continuing education course could help refresh your skills and prepare you for an apprenticeship.
How to get an electrician apprenticeship?
There are two types of electrical apprenticeships you can choose to pursue: union apprenticeships and non-union apprenticeships.
- Union apprenticeships – Completing an apprenticeship through a union can be an excellent way to become an electrician apprentice with no experience. Union apprentices often enjoy higher pay than non-union ones, but competition for these positions can be fierce. You may also need to pay union dues from day one of your apprenticeship.
- Non-union apprenticeships – You will typically need some formal training to get a non-union electrician apprenticeship. Community colleges and trade schools often offer affordable electrical training programs. Pay is greatly influenced by the local market.
Both union and non-union apprenticeships include a formal interview process. Unions and businesses don’t want to waste time on unreliable candidates. An interview helps them assess if you are suitable for the role—if you are serious about completing the apprenticeship, trustworthy, and honest.
What to expect during your electrical apprenticeship?
If your interview is successful, you will start the hands-on portion of your electrical apprenticeship. The responsibilities you are given in your first year are likely basic but potential exhausting. Expect a lot of grunt work (such as digging ditches and carrying equipment), as well as many hours spent observing licensed electricians.
However, you will be given more challenging duties as time goes on. You will likely make mistakes, but this is part of the learning process. Ask questions if you don’t understand something, speak up if things feel unsafe, and pay attention to how jobs are carried out from start to finish.
During your electrician apprenticeship, you will learn skills such as:
- Reading blueprints, diagrams, and technical drawings
- Following regulations and building codes
- Inspecting electrical components
- Installing lighting, control, and wiring systems
- Repairing or replacing wiring
- Identifying problems through testing
You may also learn some basic business skills, such as speaking with customers, writing an invoice, and taking payments. These may be helpful if you decide to start your own small business in the future.
Once your electrical apprenticeship is complete, you can apply for an electrician license. This allows you to work independently, so long as you are following the licensing laws and regulations in your state or local area.
A rewarding career choice!
When you become an electrician apprentice (with no experience or with some formal training), you’re taking a step towards a challenging yet rewarding career. Electricians are a vital part of many industries, from home maintenance to manufacturing. The skills you learn as an apprentice are the building blocks for helping others live and work comfortably and safely.
*As with any insurance, coverage will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained on this web page is general only and should not be relied upon as advice.