Electricians are some of the most highly skilled tradespeople in the marketplace today.
But before becoming professionals, they learned the complexities of their trade by working alongside masters in the field.
That’s why for most electricians, apprenticeships hold significant weight in starting their careers.
Through it, they can gain knowledge, problem-solving skills, and practical experience to help them become qualified electricians.
So on this page, you’ll learn…
- What an electrician apprenticeship is about
- The role you’ll play in the field as an electrician apprentice
What Is an Electrician Apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships are all-inclusive, structured, and regulated.
They consist of at least four to five years of coursework and on-the-job training.
It takes about 500 to 1,000 classroom hours and 8,000 to 10,000 on-the-job training hours.
Even though most apprenticeships include classroom training, you can complete an electrician diploma or associate’s degree beforehand.
That way, you can meet the required classroom hours before you start the apprenticeship.
Moreover, apprenticeships have apparent benefits that you can take advantage of, such as:
- Apprenticeships allow you to learn and earn at the same time.
- After each periodic assessment during training, you’ll receive a pay raise for skills improvement.
- You’ll work under the guidance and supervision of journeymen and masters, resulting in exceptional real-world experience.
- Upon completion, you can receive employment offers from the program sponsor.
Admission to the apprenticeship program can be competitive, so you should ensure to meet some of its strict requirements.
- Must 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
- Pass the basic aptitude test and personal interview
- Pass the physical examination and drug screen
Electrician apprenticeships are usually sponsored by union and non-union entities that adhere to state regulations.
Some entities that sponsor these are as follows:
- Private employers
- Community colleges and vocational/trade schools
- U.S. military
- Apprenticeship training centers
Out of all of them, the Electrical Training ALLIANCE offers the largest apprenticeship training program in the U.S.
Its program has been around for 70 years and is a partnership between the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
Here, you can take an apprenticeship if you want to become an inside wireman or outside lineman.
ALLIANCE and other entities will provide the lectures online, with private employers relying on online course providers or schools to help deliver them.
To look for electrician apprenticeships in your state, the state’s licensing board usually has a list of approved apprenticeship sponsors.
Or, you can search online through these websites:
- Electrical Training ALLIANCE
What Is an Electrician Apprentice?
Electrician apprentices work under the supervision of a licensed electrician to learn and master the trade.
And so, during training, your sponsor will be your employer, mentor, and educator.
After being admitted to the apprenticeship, you will complete classroom study and on-the-job training.
Your schedule will depend on the program you’re taking, but some courses will be full-time.
Here are some of the courses you’ll take:
- Electrical theory
- Lighting and power distribution
- Communication and testing equipment
- National Electric Code
- High-voltage distribution
- 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
It may also include specialized electrical work related to the following:
- Fire alarm systems
- Job site supervision and management.
To continue your apprenticeship, you will have to pass all given tests during your classroom training, with a grade of 70% or higher.
Upon successful completion of the apprenticeship, you’ll then take the journeyman electrician exam administered by your local licensing board.
Duties an Electrician Apprentice Can Perform
As you progress in your training, 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 cables, install circuit breakers, repair electrical devices and wiring, etc.
Here are some of the duties you’ll undertake as an electrician apprentice:
- 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 degree of professionalism, punctuality, and reliability
Limitations of an Electrician Apprentice
As an electrician apprentice, your role will be limited, depending on two factors:
- Your level of training and knowledge
- The 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 at all times.
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.
This page is also available in Spanish.