Electricians in the US carry out a licensed trade that is typically regulated at the state level rather than at the federal level. Therefore, to train to be an electrician and have a career in this field, one has to comply with the licensing requirements of your state.
To train to be an electrician or become a journeyman electrician (a term given to the license level) you will likely be required to complete an apprenticeship program which may last from 2 to 5 years.
Eligibility to Train to be an Electrician
The minimum requirement for these apprenticeship programs is that the candidate must be at least 18 years of age, possess a high school diploma or its equivalent and be able to pass a skills test. Those who do not go through a formal training may learn the trade by working and assisting experienced electricians. While they do this, they will also learn the various safety practices important to this line of work.
There are also a few vocational courses as part of the curriculum and correspondence courses offered in trade schools. Previous high school study in mechanical drawing, mathematics, electronics and science, and electricity have proved beneficial for are not required.
Special training from post secondary technical schools or the US Armed Forces also helps a great deal if you are planning to join the military. Keep in mind, applicants need to be in good physical health having average strength and dexterity. Since they often have to identify electrical wires by their color they must have good color vision.
Those interested in training to be maintenance electricians need to have a strong background in electronics especially due to the use of complex electronic controls on manufacturing equipment.
Info on Electrician Training Programs
These training programs to train to be an electrician equip students with in depth knowledge in various aspects of the trade, thus helping them to find positions in the future. Typical practical education programs involve about 144 hours of classroom sessions and 2,000 hours of practical training each year.
Classroom instruction includes study of electrical theory, mathematics, electronics, blueprint reading, electrical code requirements, first aid and safety practices. Specialized training in fire alarm systems, welding, cranes, elevators and communications may also be offered.
On-site exposures to train to be an electrician is supervised by experienced electricians. Here he trainees demonstrate their skills in various trade requirements such as drilling holes, setting anchors, setting up conduits, installing conduits, measuring, fabricating, installing, connecting, test wiring of outlets and switches, drawing out diagrams and setting up entire electrical systems.
Journeymen who finish their apprenticeship may continue to train to achieve the next license level of a master which is when you really start to earn a great living. This would involve learning more about related electrical systems. Many builders choose to work with contractors who have knowledge of both regular and more complex or specialized electrical systems like low voltage data, voice and video systems.
Who, What & Where of Training Course to be an Electrician
The programs offer comprehensive training that equips those who complete the apprenticeship to qualify to function in both construction and maintenance. These programs are usually sponsored by joint training committees that are comprised of local unions of the following bodies:
IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), Local chapter of National Electrical Contractors Association, Local chapters of Associated Builder and Contractors, Independent Electrical Contractors, and individual electrical contracting companies.
The IBEW sponsors a limited number of seats and the selection is based on factors that vary according to economy and location. The training offered is for a period of 4 years but again varies according to the local area.
More About Licenses
The requirement for a license to be employed as an electrician varies by location. Though some locations do not require them, most others may require at least one or more licenses relating to state, city or county. In an area with procedures for formal licensing, an electrician would need to obtain a license in order to move up the prevailing wage tiers.
To train to be an electrician and obtain a license, one needs to be eligible for an state examination. Licensing authorities may mandate a minimum amount of time spent working at the trade to be fully documented that could be 6,000-8,000 hours. Some authorities do not take into account any overtime hours and only credit 2,000 hours a year. They may also cap a limit on the amount of hours sought as credit for working on military installations or attending school.
The examination includes computation, verbal, essay, practical and multiple choice questions depending on the state. The exam is often divided into two parts – a written and a practical examination.
Licensing authorities usually use the National Electrical Code for enforcing the electrical code system in their jurisdiction. A good understanding of the codes is essential to train to be an electrician and also as part of the practical examination.
In conclusion, an electrician need not be confined to a particular field. Experienced electricians get promoted to supervisors, superintendents and inspectors. Some may even opt to start their own contracting business which can be very lucrative if you are business orientated. Working under an experienced electrician or supervisor who has handled many projects generally provides more exposure and is very beneficial when starting out in this field.
Some companies even offer training sessions on weekends or at nights. Keep in mind, to train to be an electrician does not involve what is taught in the apprenticeship programs alone. What the individual sets out to explore and learn determines how steep ones learning curve would be and likewise success in the profession.