What Degree Does an Electrician Need?
Updated January 26, 2023
Electricians provide essential services such as installing and maintaining power sources and electrical technology for a wide variety of purposes. Electricians are trade-skill professionals who typically complete an apprenticeship and obtain a license rather than earning a college degree.
Learning what kind of training and licenses are necessary for electricians can help you prepare for career success. In this article, we discuss what degree an electrician needs, what license they need, how they prepare for an apprenticeship, how long an apprenticeship takes and what training they typically require.
What degree does an electrician need?
Since employers rarely require them, electricians don't need a degree from a college or university. Instead, they need a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED. This education provides them with foundations in math, physics and communications that are necessary to begin electrician training. High school students who take courses in shop or electrical technology may find those courses beneficial during their training as electricians.
Many employers and states require candidates without a college degree to earn a relevant certification, complete an apprenticeship and obtain a state contractor license to qualify for a position as an electrician. While employers typically don't require them, some professionals may pursue an associate degree in electrical technology. This degree can offer you advanced training and show potential employers or apprenticeship supervisors that you have the skills for a position as an electrician.
Related: Learn About Being an Electrician
What license does an electrician need?
Licensure for electricians varies by state. They may be required to fulfill specific experience requirements and pass a state exam. The exam assesses an electrician's knowledge of local and state codes and the National Electrical Codes. It may also cover how to operate and handle electrical equipment safely according to protocol. Many states may also require documentation of apprenticeship hours. The minimum number of documented hours varies by state.
There are also multiple levels of licenses that you can obtain, depending on what type of electrician you're interested in becoming. Many states offer the following licenses:
Residential wireman electrician: Licensed residential electricians handle the electrical work in small homes and apartments.
Master electrician: A master electrician is qualified to train apprentices and lead teams. This license requires candidates to have at least two years of experience as a licensed journeyman before taking the master electrician license test.
Related: Types of Electricians
What is an electrician apprenticeship??
You may seek an apprenticeship to work under the supervision of a licensed master electrician. Some states may require you to register as an apprentice or trainee. This can help you track your required hours of experience and schedule licensing exams. Prior experience, such as trade school or vocational programs in electrical technology, can help you secure an apprenticeship position. You should be prepared to pass a basic aptitude test if a potential employer requests one.
During an apprenticeship program, you will spend time in a classroom-like environment learning about electrical codes and procedures. You will also complete hands-on training hours. Typically, electrician apprentices receive compensation for the work they complete during their training hours. Many programs also provide assistance with tuition costs and provide benefits to students. These provisions make electrician training more accessible to all students.
How long does it take to complete an apprenticeship program?
Apprenticeship programs may take three to seven years to complete. The exact number of required hours varies by state, but it ranges from 576 to 1,000 hours spent in classes and 8,000 to 10,000 hours of hands-on training under a licensed supervisor. Some apprenticeship programs accept an associate degree or vocational degree as an exemption from a maximum of 2,000 training hours, but requirements vary by state and program.
After completing an apprenticeship and the licensing process, electricians pursue continuing education. Typically, this includes four hours of training every 18 months. Employers and states typically require electricians to complete continuing education courses to maintain and renew a state license. During these sessions, an electrical may review the codes and policies of electrical work and ensure that they remain current on technologies and equipment. This helps them work safely and effectively.
What on-the-job training does an electrician need?
Here are some of the on-the-job training topics that employers may require electricians to complete:
Employers emphasize proper safety procedures for electricians since they work closely with high-voltage and dangerous wiring and pieces. Apprentice supervisors can help aspiring electricians learn safety skills for specific types of projects. Proper handling, installation and maintenance of equipment allows electricians to work safely and ensure the safety of their teams and clients.
Crisis management training
Crisis management is another important skill for electricians. Apprenticeship programs provide training and practice scenarios that give students the ability to overcome various crises. Since the safety of residential and commercial buildings often depends on electrical systems working properly, it's typically necessary for electricians to make decisions quickly. When an electrical crisis or issue arises, an electrician must know the most effective and safe way to solve the problem.
Related: How To Implement Crisis Management
Apprenticeships can teach prospective electricians technical skills such as how to install equipment and wiring to ensure safety and effectiveness. It may also train them to use specific types of equipment such as motors, transformers, switches and starters and offer them practice solving common issues with these devices. Aspiring electricians can also learn how to create, draw and read mechanical diagrams for circuits or internal electrical systems.
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