Electricians install, maintain and repair electrical wiring and the various components that electricity flows through. Connecting wires to transformers, circuit breakers, outlets and other components is often part of the job. For safety reasons, electricians adhere to the standards set by the National Electrical Code and also local building codes. After installations have been completed they use equipment such as voltmeters, ohmmeters, ammeters and oscilloscopes to test connections and to check the compatibility of components.
To learn about the various tools of the trade and important safety measures, electricians must complete training through a vocational school or apprenticeship program. The following five schools and organizations offer electrician training that combines classroom and hands-on learning experience:
- Everest College: This college offers flexible class schedules, so that electricians can get the hands-on instruction that they need while continuing to work.
- Lincoln Tech: Electrical students at Lincoln Tech's locations around the country are trained in the installation and service of residential, commercial, and industrial systems.
- Penn Foster Career School: This online school offers a career diploma program that prepares students for jobs as residential electricians.
- The San Francisco Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee: This collaboration between the San Francisco Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union #6 trains electricians with the necessary skills to work in the electrical industry.
- Southern California Institute of Technology: This school's general electrician program offers electrical training for those wishing to register with the State of California as an electrician trainee, and provides the skills for entry-level employment in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.
Electrician Education Requirements
Most electricians learn through apprenticeship programs which blend classroom learning with on-the-job training. Apprenticeship programs are offered by combined training organizations consisting of local unions of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and local chapters of the National Electrical Contractors Association. Also, the local chapters of the Independent Electrical Contractors Association and the Associated Builders and Contractors provide apprenticeship programs. Electrical contracting companies also offer apprenticeships.
The training programs usually take four years to complete. Typically, the trainees perform 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and have at least 144 hours of classroom learning. While training on the job, apprentices work under the guidance of experienced electricians. Those that complete the apprenticeship programs are eligible to perform maintenance and construction work. Some workers gain entry into apprenticeship programs by beginning as assistants who perform non-electrical work. Apprentices are required to have a high school diploma or a GED certificate.
Some people begin their classroom learning before acquiring an apprenticeship. Many vocational schools provide electrician training programs. Mathematics courses offered in training programs are helpful since solving mathematical problems is often part of the occupation.
Most states and localities require electricians to be licensed. The licensing requirements vary by state, however, electricians typically have to pass an examination which includes the National Electrical Code and also includes electrical theory and local electrical and building codes. In addition, electrical contractors who provide services to the public typically are required to obtain a special license. Some states require electrical contractors to be certified as master electricians.
Electrician Training and Certification
The National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, an apprenticeship and training organization for the electrical industry, breaks down electrician training programs into four different categories:
- Outside linemen - These electrical workers install and maintain power transmission lines that transmit power from power plants to factories, businesses, and residential communities. A great deal of the electrician training program for outside lineman should focus on maintaining transformers, stringing power lines and power transmission.
- Inside wiremen - These electricians install power, lighting, control systems and all other electrical equipment for commercial and industrial buildings. Apprentices in these programs learn the basics of power installation and requirements for lighting and control systems. However, this field encompasses many different electrical roles.
- VDV installer technicians - Also known as voice, data and video installers, these electricians install the circuits for telephone systems, computer networks, video systems and security and access control systems. Training as an installer technician can consist of learning one or more voice, data or video system.
- Residential wiremen - These electricians run the wires that power new houses and apartment buildings. From pulling wire to installing light fixtures, their job is to provide seamless power distribution throughout a home.
Although each field shares many common practices, skills and knowledge, the requirements to become a journeyman and master each field differ greatly.
Resources for Electricians
- National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee
- National Electrical Contractors Association
- Independent Electrical Contractors Inc.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Electricians,http://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/electricians.htm
- Everest College, http://www.everest.edu/programs/category/electrician
- Lincoln Tech, http://www.lincolntech.edu/careers/skilled-trades/electrical
- The National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, http://electricaltrainingalliance.org/
- Penn Foster Career School, http://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/construction-and-maintenance/residential-electrician-career-diploma
- Southern California Institute of Technology, https://www.scitech.edu/programs/general-electrician-diploma