What Is an Electrician Apprentice and What Do They Do?

Updated June 24, 2022

Electricians provide expertise and specialized labor required by many businesses and individuals daily. To become qualified service providers, electricians begin their careers as electrician apprentices and study the trade for years. If working with electrical systems interests you, then you can learn about an electrician apprenticeship and the skills you can gain from apprenticing. In this article, we review what an electrician apprentice is, what they learn while training and answer some frequently asked questions about the field.

Related: How To Write a Resume as an Electrician Apprentice

What is an electrician apprentice?

An electrician apprentice is both a student and professional who spends years developing the skills necessary to work as an independent electrician. The profession requires apprenticeships, so people without experience can safely learn with experts, known as journeymen or master electricians. Professional electrician organizations offer apprenticeships and require completion of classwork and extensive work experience.

Because of the complexities of the trade, it may take an apprentice five years to complete training. Since they perform substantial work and have to make a commitment to the field, apprenticeship programs often will pay apprentices a wage.

Related: Electrician School: Types, Costs and What You Need To Know

What does an electrician apprentice do?

Electrician apprentices work to gain enough experience to understand a wide variety of common electrical systems and their potential malfunctions. Their primary responsibilities are to help the journeyman they work with complete jobs while expanding their understanding of the trade. This might mean working in homes, businesses or industrial settings, such as factories.

Electrical systems require installation, maintenance and repair. These general categories of electrical work might specifically entail:

  • Assessing blueprints, electrical diagrams and other technical documents

  • Sourcing materials for cost and quality

  • Installing wiring systems

  • Installing conduits between electrical devices

  • Configuring electricity-based safety systems, such as fire and security alarms

  • Replacing components such as transformers and switches

  • Determining reasons for electrical malfunctions

  • Digging for underground installations

  • Repairing electrical infrastructures

Related: How To Become an Electrician Journeyman

Skills for electrician apprentices

Here are several critical skills electrician apprentices may develop:


Often, the reason a client requires an electrician is they don't know why something isn't working. Troubleshooting is the ability to solve malfunctions by analyzing causes and effects to specify where a problem is occurring. This can involve analytical, critical thinking and testing skills.


Electrician apprentices must familiarize themselves with math skills such as algebra, geometry and trigonometry. These forms of math produce information regarding angles, distances and electrical measurements, all of which guide electrical work. Apprenticeship programs understand their apprentices may need to re-familiarize themselves with these concepts and usually include mathematical education in coursework.


As a profession based on manual labor, electrician apprentices have to care for their physical health and make sure they can lift, carry, bend over and work on their feet for extended periods. Electrical systems might be in tight or hard to reach spaces, requiring crawling and crouching.


Electrician apprentices gain exposure to working sites with intricate electrical systems, and various tradespeople working on different projects. These might be other electricians or contractors, plumbers or heating and cooling specialists. Electrician apprentices develop the communication skills to collaborate when required, maintain safe working conditions in hazardous environments and work with clients.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some answers to questions you may have if you are interested in becoming an electrician apprentice:

How much do electrician apprentices earn?

The average national salary for an electrician apprentice is $65,165 per year. Earnings may differ depending on geographic location, experience and education.

What is the job outlook for electrician apprentices?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects positive job prospects for electrician apprentices with an 8% growth predicted through 2029 for electricians.

Are there requirements to begin an apprenticeship?

Individual states may regulate the conditions of electrician apprenticeships differently, but there are several requirements you might have to meet, such as:

  • Being 18 years of age (16 for some programs)

  • Having a GED or high school diploma

  • Having a valid driver's license

  • Passing a physical and drug screen

  • Passing an aptitude test

  • Interviewing with the program

How do I become licensed to practice?

Some states require electrician apprentices to take a licensing exam. These exams usually test knowledge of building codes and the National Electrical Code, which details regulatory, legal and safety guidelines for working in the field. To take the licensing exam, most states ask for proof of work experience and of apprenticeship completion. There may be a fee to take the exam.

Do electricians specialize?

Many electricians choose to focus on a specific type of customer or electrical system. Electricians might prefer to work in residences, in construction or in industrial settings. Some considerations electricians make when specializing include:

  • Who to work for: Some electricians' priority is working for themselves. This works well for smaller-scale projects—such as home installations and repair—but larger projects require teams of electricians.

  • Where to work: Electricians, known as linemen, work on power lines and other outside infrastructure, which may affect work schedules and conditions. Other electricians can mostly avoid the effects of weather if their specialization is the wiring inside structures.

  • Personal interest: Electricians can specialize in industries as varied as filmmaking, automobile manufacturing and renewable energy.

  • Travel requirements: Some work sites, such as oil rigs or airfields, are far apart and require substantial travel. An electrician servicing a residential area likely does far less commuting.

Related: Types of Electricians

What are some related careers?

Here are several related careers you could consider as alternatives to working as an electrician apprentice:

  • Security or fire alarm installer: Some professionals specialize in only installing emergency alert systems. This may appeal to those seeking a less intensive training process.

  • Signal and track switch repairer: Transit systems with multiple vehicles and complex infrastructure need employees who maintain and repair signaling systems and track switches.

  • Computer repair: If troubleshooting and working with electronics is your motivation in choosing a career, computer repair might suit you. You may learn industry-standard hardware components and study commonly required repairs.

  • Plumbers: In the highly specialized plumbing trade, plumbers also can employ themselves as independent contractors and work in many of the same environments as electricians.

  • Electrical engineers: If the theory and mathematics behind an electrician's training interest you, electrical engineering could allow you to study the field intensively. Electrical engineers apply their academic knowledge to develop products for an array of industries.

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