Many people truly enjoy the idea of a long-term career as an electrician.
They get really excited, so they get surprised when they find out that it takes a while to become a journeyman.
It takes about four years.
That’s right, it takes four years to finish the apprenticeship and obtain and journeyman electrician license.
That’s a while.
On the bright side, you don’t have to be licensed to get a job and get paid.
So, further below, we will cover how electricians start their careers:
- How long is an apprenticeship?
- How long is an electrical school?
- How can you start ASAP?
The ultimate goal is to become a fully licensed electrician.
It takes a lot of work and dedication, and there are different options available:
You can obtain an entry-level position as an electrician helper.
It means that you’ll be digging trenches, retrieve parts and tools, and do a lot of busy work.
This position is essential, however, you will learn a little.
Also, helpers don’t get promoted.
However, you will get paid and earn valuable experience which can be useful if you go to school or an apprenticeship.
The good news is that you can start away and make useful connections as well as demonstrate your potential.
This job can lead to enrolling in an apprenticeship.
You can get accepted to an electrician school, graduate, and become an assistant.
You will get better pay and, with your degree, you can get accepted to an apprenticeship program.
The advantage here is that having a certificate or diploma looks good to employers.
You can skip the school and apply directly for an apprenticeship program.
They are available through the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) or International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), or Association Building Contractors (ABC).
You’ll have to pass an entrance exam and a few interviews.
They can be challenging, so you have to be well-prepared.
It takes a while to start an apprenticeship, but you will earn as you learn and start getting paid as soon as your apprenticeship starts.
The common feature of the three options is that you’ll need to get an apprenticeship program to become a journeyman.
So, you may think, why not just join an apprenticeship straight away?
There are a few reasons: the openings are limited, you can get accepted only once or twice a year, and the entrance exam can be difficult.
With that in mind, if you can obtain an apprenticeship or a job, it should be your first choice.
You will earn money and won’t have to deal with a student loan.
If you can’t get either one, you may have to go to school.
How Long Is Electrician School?
This will depend on the program.
Some of them last for a few months while others can take about a year and a half.
The goals of the programs can be different as well.
Some focus on residential work, such as the installation and maintenance of electrical systems in houses.
Others, though, can concentrate on the work in an industrial or commercial setting.
Such schools can be usually found through community colleges, which are very valuable.
There are also schools available through technical/vocational training centers.
How Much Does Electrician School Cost?
The cost will depend on the program as well.
A community college is a great place to get an education, and programs there can range from $3,000 to $10,000.
Education at vocational or technical schools can be more expensive, and range from $5k to $15k or more.
Private schools cost, even more, $5-20 thousand.
You should ensure they are teaching exactly what you need and want to learn and provide a diploma or certificate you need.
You should also be sure you can transfer your class credits if you need to.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you will have to take classes during your apprenticeship.
They can take place at a local union hall, IEC/ABC building, or community college.
How Much Is An Electrician Apprenticeship?
A great thing about apprenticeships is that they are very affordable.
They can vary from one place to another as well, but usually, they involve an annual charge (from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand, depending on the program).
Every apprentice should also buy books for a class, which is about a couple of hundred per year.
In the end, that is a lot less than you would spend for a four-year college.
Apprenticeships are a great way to obtain training and start your career.
Bringing It All Together
So, what does it take to become an electrician?
Let’s sum up:
- To get an entry-level position fast, you can start as an electrician helper.
- You will only need a high school diploma.
- If you play it right, you can make connections and show your potential to eventually get into an apprenticeship.
- To gain more experience for an apprenticeship and better payment, you can go to school and become an assistant after graduation.
- To become a journeyman who makes a good living and goes on assignments in a specific area takes about four years.
You will need to complete an apprenticeship through ABC, or IEC, or IBEW.