How to Become an Electrician

Electricians install, inspect and repair electrical wiring, fixtures and control devices in a wide range of buildings and other structures. They are employed by electrical contractors and building maintenance departments or may be self-employed. Some electricians specialize in particular fields, such as voice-data-video or fire alarm installation. Others focus on electrical distribution systems for industrial, commercial and residential applications.

To become a fully qualified electrician, you will need to have at least a high school diploma and complete a four- to five-year apprenticeship program. Many apprenticeships are offered through private companies, while others are run by unions or contractor associations. In addition to on-the-job training, apprenticeship programs typically involve classroom instruction in electrical theory, systems and safety practices.

After completing your apprenticeship, you will need to pass an exam to get your journeyman electrician license. Journeymen can work independently but must adhere to state and local codes as well as the national electrical code. To keep your license, you will need to take continuing education courses.

A career as an electrician can be challenging, but it is also rewarding. This is a great field for people who enjoy working with their hands and who are good at math and science. Critical thinking skills are important, as is the ability to read and interpret the many memos, blueprints and technical documents that electricians must review on job sites. Physical stamina and strength are also required, as electricians must be able to lift and carry heavy tools as well as stand for long periods of time while installing or repairing wiring.

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