How to Become an Electrician
The work isn’t tedious because there are many opportunities for learning and trying something new to the profession.
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2 Years

The Definitive Guide to Becoming an Electrician

Getting a traditional four-year college degree can take an average student 5.5 years or even longer to finish. That’s why more people gear towards apprenticeship programs and trade schools to be industry-ready.

Becoming an electrician is an example of one career in which people can take a different path than attending university. And it offers many employment options and a competitive salary once you become licensed. However, becoming licensed isn’t an easy journey. But, don’t worry. Here’s the definitive guide on how to become an electrician to help you get started.

What Does an Electrician Do?

An electrician is responsible for the following jobs:

  • Reading and understanding structural plans and technical diagrams
  • Creating layout plans for electrical wiring
  • Inspecting electrical components
  • Identifying issues using testing devices
  • Reporting and troubleshooting electrical problems
  • Understanding and adhering to local and state regulations
  • Maintaining electrical wiring systems

Types of Electrician Jobs

Now you know what an electrician can do. The job depends on your selected specialization, and you can select from being a low-voltage or high-voltage electrician.

Low-Voltage Electricians

Low-voltage electricians are responsible for the installation, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair of low-voltage electrical components in a residential or commercial building. These electricians are in high demand because each building needs electrical wiring systems to be functional. Low-voltage electricians cover many diverse fields, such as:

  • Residential Electricians – They are responsible for the wiring systems, lighting systems, and HVACR within a residential unit. It could be a house, condominium, or apartment.
  • Commercial Electricians – They are like residential electricians but in a commercial setting, such as offices, hotels, and malls.
  • Installation Electricians – They are responsible for setting up and installation of wiring systems and electrical equipment in all projects.
  • Construction Electricians – They work in buildings. If you’re a construction electrician, you need to be knowledgeable about the codes, regulations, and safety procedures.
  • Automotive Electricians – They are responsible for installation and maintaining wiring systems in automotive areas.

High-Voltage Electricians

Unlike low-voltage electricians, high-voltage electricians are responsible for electrical wiring systems overhead, underground, power plants, and other areas with charges of more than 600V. All states need professional and skilled high-voltage electricians to keep large infrastructures and underground systems running smoothly. Additionally, they should know how to rectify serious issues, such as power outages.

Some high-voltage electricians include the following:

  • Industrial Electrician – They are responsible for any large-scale project, such as a power plant, manufacturing facility, factory, or other industrial facilities that use complex systems and large machinery.
  • Maintenance Electricians – They are responsible for all the electrical works in any manufacturing plant.
  • Highway Systems Electricians – They are responsible for the installation, maintenance, and upgrades of electrical infrastructure on any road to ensure a safe transportation system. Parts of their work are the signages, street lamps, and traffic lights.

In addition to the above, other jobs covered include research technician, electrical relay technician, power system and electro-mechanical technician, and control engineer.

Why Become an Electrician?

So why do many people want to be electricians?

First, the job is in demand. Just take a look around you. Any place or thing that uses electricity will surely need repair work at one point to keep the system running smoothly. You most likely need the help of an electrician to get things right. Additionally, electricians are in high demand on any construction project – residential and commercial. An electrician is also needed if a company needs to relocate to a new office.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that growth in employment for electricians will be 9 percent annually over the next few years, or about roughly 84,700 new jobs each year. So if you like to work your hands and love solving problems, then becoming an electrician can be a great career choice for you.

In fact, there are other reasons why many want to be an electrician. Here are some of the compelling reasons to pursue a career as an electrician.

On the Job Training

Many find this job a satisfying career because they have sound knowledge of the design codes. The work isn’t tedious because there are many opportunities for learning and trying something new to the profession. Additionally, the job can give you great benefits and excellent career development.


According to the latest data from the BLS, the average wage for an electrician in the U.S. is $65,500 per year.

Job Security

The BLS predicts a continuous growth of electrician jobs in the next ten years. They expect an increase of 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is higher than the average of the growth of various industries.

If you want a job available today, then consider becoming an electrician. Choosing this path grants you many job opportunities because the demand for this job is continuously rising across the U.S.

Career Advancement Opportunities

An electrician is offered many opportunities for career advancement. If you pair hard work and dedication to continuous learning, you can start as a service technician and be promoted to a managerial position within the field and the company.

A Four-Step Guide to Becoming an Electrician

If you want to learn how to become an electrician, here are the four steps you’ll need to take.

Earn a High School Diploma or GED

The first requirement is earning a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED). But what is the difference?

A high school diploma can certify that you have attended a traditional classroom-type of learning and have completed all the needed courses. The GED is a set of examinations equivalent to a high school diploma.

Usually, getting a high school diploma is much more common for an average student. However, if you can't complete the program due to some issues such as family obligations, then getting a GED is much more practical. There are many organizations that offer GED preparation services.

Here are the subjects you need to take to gain valuable skills if you choose this career.

  • Mathematics – Every electrician needs mathematics to calculate the wiring length, forces of electric currents, and the angles of circuits. Specifically, these require taking Algebra and Trigonometry subjects.
  • Physics – Learning the fundamentals of physics is essential for electricians. They need to grasp these scientific concepts to help them complete their work effectively.
  • English – Having good English skills is also vital for electricians, because aside from communicating with others, they need to read documents and understand technical specifications.
  • Shop and mechanical drawing courses – These are helpful in teaching them to draw and design systems in any structure.

Complete an Apprenticeship Program

After getting a high school diploma or passing the GED, you need to complete an apprenticeship program to be an electrician.

While you can learn all the theories and concepts inside the classroom, there is still no substitute for having a real-world experience.

An apprenticeship program is a long-term commitment that is mostly facilitated by professional organizations. If you enroll in this program, you need to complete the specified number of hours both in a classroom setting and practical training.

Usually, the program takes up to five years to complete. When choosing a program, you have two options:

  • Attend a school, apply as an electrical assistant, and receive both classroom and practical training.
  • Or be accepted to any professional group

Get Licensed

To complete the process, getting licensed is necessary. While the requirements vary from state to state, you need to get a favorable score from a location-specific examination that tests your overall knowledge. This includes theories, local and national electrical codes, and other practical scenarios.

It's necessary to understand the requirements specific to where you want to work. While some opt to take the test directly after apprenticeship, you can take some review classes to prepare for the licensure exams.

Start Working

After passing the licensure exam, you can start finding a job as an electrician and work unsupervised. There are plenty of reasons why many choose this career path. As mentioned earlier, the demand is indeed increasing and promising.

If you're not yet convinced, look at some of the top-paying states for electrician jobs:

  • Illinois – $81,650
  • New York – $81,340
  • Hawaii – $79,280
  • District of Columbia – $79,030
  • Oregon – $76,040

If you're looking for industries to work for, here are the top-paying ones:

  • Natural gas distribution - $106,280
  • Land subdivision - $99,780
  • Trade schools - $93,260
  • Promoters of performing arts and sports - $93,230
  • General merchandise - $88,970

The demand for electricians resulted in a projected nine percent growth in employment from 2020 to2030. This rate is equivalent to the average rate for all occupations.

An estimated 84,000 openings on average for electricians are expected annually. Many of these jobs will result from the need to replace those who transfer to other occupations or retire.

Wrapping Up

Now you have everything you need to know on how to become an electrician. You might be asking if being one is hard. Well, it doesn't need to be. If you get the right education and practical training, everything will go smoothly. This career offers excellent opportunities if you're willing to go through the hard part.

Remember, getting the right knowledge and skills can set you up for greatness. Like any other profession, you surely will meet difficulties along the way. However, this doesn't mean you won't succeed.