The Purpose of Electrical Apprenticeships and the Role of the Apprentice

For most electricians, apprenticeship is the first step to the career.

It provides knowledge, problem-solving skills, and practical experience to help you become an electrician.

Electricians are some of the highly skilled tradespeople who learn the complexities of their craft by working alongside masters in the field.

The apprenticeship is essential for electricians because it is a way of training and education which is as much a part of the trade today as it was hundreds of years ago.

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What is an Electrician Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships are all-inclusive, structures, and regulated.

They consist of at least four to five years of coursework and on-the-job training.

It takes about 500-1,000 classroom hours and 8,000-10,000 on-the-job hours.

Even though most apprenticeships include classroom training, you can complete an associate’s degree program or electrician diploma beforehand.

That way you can meet the required classroom hours before you start the apprenticeship.

There are apparent benefits of an apprenticeship:

  • While learning, apprentices are paid.
    With more training, the pay raises.
    Through this form of education, students can learn and earn.
  • Apprentices work under the guidance and supervision of journeymen and masters, so the quality of their training and exposure to real-world experience are outstanding.
  • Upon completion of the program, many apprentices receive employment offers from their program sponsor.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the apprenticeship can be competitive, so you should meet some strict requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old (Some programs admit students at 16).
  • A high school graduate or hold a GED certification.
  • A valid driver’s license and access to reliable transportation.
  • Ability to take and pass a physical examination and drug screen.
  • You must sit for a personal interview.
  • You must take and pass a basic aptitude test.

Apprenticeship Sponsors

Electrical apprenticeship sponsors should adhere to state regulations and can be union and non-union.

The Electrical Training ALLIANCE is a union and the largest apprenticeship training program.

This program has been around for 70 years.

It’s a partnership between the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Depending on the career path you choose, you can take an ALLIANCE apprenticeship to become an inside wireman (IBEW/NECA Joint Apprenticeship Training Program) or an outside lineman (IBEW/NECA Area Wide Joint Apprenticeship Program).

Electrician apprenticeship is offered through by various employers and organizations:

  • Private employers.
  • Community colleges and vocational/trade schools.
  • S. military.
  • Apprenticeship training centers.

ALLIANCE and other trade and vocational school programs have their classroom study part, and many of them are available online.

On the other hand, private employers rely on online course providers or local community colleges to satisfy the classroom study requirement.

The licensing board of your state has a list of approved apprenticeship sponsors.

To locate an electrical apprenticeship in your state, you can search through the following sources:

  • Electrical Training ALLIANCE.
  • Apprenticeship USA.
  • Mynextmove.org.

What is an Electrical Apprentice

By making an agreement with an apprenticeship sponsor, electrical apprentices work under the supervision of a licensed electrician while they learn the craft.

During this training, your sponsor is your employer, mentor, and educator.

After being admitted to the electrical apprenticeship, you will start classroom study and on-the-job training.

Your schedule will depend on the program you’re taking, but some courses will take full-time, which are related to:

  • Electrical theory.
  • Lighting and power distribution.
  • Communication and testing equipment.
  • Industrial controls.
  • National Electric Code.
  • High-voltage distribution.

The training and education may include specialized electrical work related to welding, instrumentation, fire alarm systems, computers, and job site supervision and management.

CPR, OSHA, and First Aid training are also an essential part of the apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship program includes the following courses:

  • First Aid and CPR.
  • Motors and Transformers.
  • Outlets, Appliances, Lighting, and Heating.
  • Blueprint Reading Fundamentals.
  • Low-Voltage Systems.
  • Inductance and Transformer Theory.
  • Industrial and Commercial Wiring.
  • Remote Control Systems.
  • Power Distribution Systems.
  • Solid State Electronic Control Devices.
  • Grounding, Bonding, and Overcurrent Protection.
  • Contactors, Starters, and Solenoids.
  • Maintenance and Troubleshooting of Fire Alarm Systems.

To continue your apprenticeship, you will have to pass all given tests during your classroom training, with 70% or higher.

Upon successful completion of all parts of the apprenticeship, you have to take a final exam administered by your local licensing board to become a journeyman.

Duties Electrical Apprentices Can Perform

As you proceed through your training and education, your responsibilities and duties as an apprentice will grow.

In the first few months, you are allowed to do a little more than haul equipment and gear and observe the work of an experienced electrician.

With more knowledge, confidence, and experience, you will develop the necessary skills to run cable, connect wires, install circuit breakers, light fixtures, and fuse boxes.

You will also be allowed to work on the repair of installed electrical devices and wiring.

With the progress of the program, as an electrical apprentice, you will have to learn and perform various duties:

  • Reading and interpreting blueprints, drawings, electric code specifications, and schematics for residential and commercial electrical equipment installations.
  • Testing electrical equipment and parts for resistance, continuity, current, and voltage.
  • Installing, repairing, or replacing electrical wiring, conduits, receptacles, lighting, switch boxes, and alternative electrical parts.
  • Installing electrical circuits, including switches, panels, protecting devices, and conduit.
  • Performing preventive maintenance and testing of electrical systems, including power distribution equipment.
  • Installing, repairing, and replacing motors, transformers, AC/DC motors and drives, relays, starters, and gas and hydraulic electrical controls.
  • Correcting connections and wiring on equipment controls.

You will also have to work at a specific standard, including:

  • Producing a quantity and quality of work according to employer standards.
  • Maintaining equipment and tools in proper working order.
  • Understanding terms, language, and skills associated with job tools and duties.
  • Complying with all company/employer policies and industry and safety standards and procedures.
  • Producing work that meets or exceeds the National Electrical Code.
  • Maintaining a focus on:
    • Professionalism.
    • Punctuality.
    • Reliability.

Limitations of an Electrical Apprentice

As an electrical apprentice, your role will be limited, depending on your level of training and knowledge, and conditions established by the state regulatory board.

In most states, these conditions imply that you should work under the supervision of a licensed journeyman or master electrician all the time on the job.

Depending on the licensing jurisdiction, the term ‘supervision’ can vary.

That means that some tasks may require direct supervision while others are fine with just general oversight and review of the finished work.

Regardless, a master or journeyman electrician should be present on the same job site.

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