Many people truly enjoy the idea of a long-term career as an electrician.
In their excitement, they get surprised when they discover that it takes four years to finish the apprenticeship and obtain a journeyman electrician license.
Below, we will cover how electricians start their careers and how long it takes to complete them.
Ways to Become an Electrician
Becoming an electrician takes a lot of work and dedication.
You have three pathways to choose from as your starting point in this career.
Option 1 – Become an Electrician Helper
You can obtain an entry-level position as an electrician helper.
As a helper, you’ll be digging trenches, retrieving parts and tools, and doing a lot of busy work.
Also, it’s an essential position where you can gain valuable learning and field experience.
Your experience here can prove useful should you decide to go for a trade school or apprenticeship later on.
Although there’s little room for promotion, becoming a helper doesn’t have strict qualifications, making it easier to get hired.
Plus, you can make useful connections in the industry that will help prove your potential as a highly-skilled electrician.
Option 2 – Complete an Electrician Program
You can opt to enroll and graduate from an approved electrician program (certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree).
The program will help you learn the fundamental theories and skills needed to become an electrician.
Some trade schools include apprenticeships or on-the-job training in the curriculum so students can gain the necessary field experience.
The apprenticeship can take place on campus, at a local union hall, or at an IEC/ABC building.
One advantage of completing the program is that your certificate or diploma makes you look good to employers.
Option 3 – Apply for an Apprenticeship Program
After high school, you can opt to directly apply for a four- to five-year apprenticeship program.
Here, you’ll have classroom learning and on-the-job training under the direct supervision of a journeyman or master electrician.
One advantage of an apprenticeship is that you can earn while training the moment it starts.
The following associations offer such a program:
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
- National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)
- Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC)
- Association Building Contractors (ABC)
All their programs aim to equip you with the skills and knowledge to become a licensed journeyman electrician.
So, you may think, why not just join an apprenticeship straight away?
There are a few reasons, with the most common ones being the following:
- Apprenticeship slots are limited
- You can get accepted only once or twice a year
- The entrance exam can be difficult to pass
So many aspiring electricians will take other options to increase their chances of obtaining apprenticeships.
How Long Is an Electrician Program?
This will depend on the program being offered by trade schools and community colleges.
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 programs focus on residential work, such as installing and maintaining electrical systems in houses.
Meanwhile, others can concentrate on the work in an industrial or commercial setting.
How Much Does the Electrician Program Cost?
It depends on the school’s program curriculum.
- Community colleges – around $3,000 to $10,000
- Technical-vocational schools – around $5,000 to $15,000
- Private schools – $5,000 to $20,000
Because of the high cost, you should ensure that you choose a school that offers the exact training you want to learn.
For instance, a program that aims to train residential electricians, with apprenticeship included.
How Much Is an Electrician Apprenticeship Program?
Unlike an electrician certificate/diploma/degree program, an apprenticeship program is very affordable.
The annual fee you pay will depend on your location and program offer, but typically it costs less than $1,000.
You also need to spend money on the books you need in class, which can cost more than $100.
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