How to Become a Licensed Electrician

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  • If you desire to seek a career as a professional electrician, there are some minimum requirements that you must meet. First, you must be at least 18 and a high school graduate. Or you must have passed your GED. Second, your schooling must have included at least one year of Algebra. Finally, you must be in excellent physical shape and be drug-free.

    These basic requirements do not guarantee a job for you, but can set you on the path to becoming a licensed electrician. On-the-job training is a critical component of this position with a four-year apprenticeship setting you on your way. College level training, either through a community college or a technical school can enhance your position in this growing field. Read on and we will cover the steps on how to become a licensed electrician.

    1. Complete your high school education. Finish high school with at least a year of Algebra under your belt and obtain your diploma. If the Algebra requirement is not met, then you will need to take this course at college. Also, if you drop out of high school, you must sit for the GED.

    2. Join an apprenticeship program. Make known your desire to become an electrician by joining an apprenticeship program sponsored by one of three groups: the Independent Electric Contractors, National Electrical Contractors Association or the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. All three prove on-job-training and classroom study. These are four-year programs that must be completed before you can obtain licensure in most states.

    3. Consider your higher education options. Although the apprenticeship route alone is sufficient for your training, you may want to consider enrolling in a community college or technical school to take courses in electric engineering. This move can handle your classroom time, leaving you to complete your 2,000 plus hours of on-the-job training separately.

    4. Get licensed. With your classroom work behind you and your on-the-job training accomplished, you are now ready to obtain a license. Each state governs licensure, therefore the instructions herein are general and may not be specific to your state. In any case, you will need to sit for an exam and pass it, with that exam held at a government approved training center. Once you pass your exam, the licensure is given. Pay the appropriate fee. Begin looking for work.

    5. Keep up with your education. Like all professional fields, electricians must stay current with technological changes as well as with National Electrical Code updates. For electricians that are specialists such as sign specialists and fire alarm speciality technicians, there are other educational and hours requirements that must be met.

    Your State

    Familiarize yourself with your state’s licensing procedures. Your apprenticeship program will help you there. Know that there are different age and practical hours experience required for various positions including electrical journeyman, master electrician and electrical contractor. A number of years and thousands of hours of experience must be completed before qualifying for an examination that you must pass.

    Looking Ahead

    The average salary of electricians is about $50,000 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most higher paying jobs are the result of many years of training and work, as well as advanced licensure. Specialists tend to earn more money than generalists, while salaries can vary widely by region. Electricians earn more in places like Alaska and Illinois, but much less in Florida and in the Carolinas. The field continues to grow, however, with the BLS forecasting a 23 percent job growth from 2010 to 2020.

    References
    Michigan: Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs — Electrical Examination Schedule, Licensing Information and Applications — http://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-35299_10575_17409-42954–,00.html
    Houston Chronicle: How Much Do Electricians Earn Annually? — http://work.chron.com/much-electricians-earn-annually-7534.html

    Author Information
    A self-described life long learner, Barry Atkins writes for PASS Training, a provider of the PAT testing course for electrical technicians in the UK. Feel free to connect with Barry on Google+.

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