Electricians, by in large, learn their trade through assorted apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeships include field work and manual training with wide-ranging classroom instruction. Unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association, along with individual electrical contracting corporations, offer apprenticeship programs.
In addition to these sponsored training programs, many vocational and technical schools offer training courses. Graduates are often appointed at higher wages than novices who haven’t completed this kind of training. Some electricians begin their path to mastery by beginning as helpers-helping electricians by setting up job sites, gathering materials, and doing other nonelectrical work. Regardless of the elected training path, all apprentices need a high school diploma or a General Equivalency Diploma (G.E.D.). In some cases, an electrician may need to pass some higher mathematics classes for specific wiring specializations.
In the field, apprentices are directed by experienced electricians of journeyman or master certification. Field training entails completion of simple errands like drilling holes, setting anchors, and attaching conduit. More advanced training sees the apprentice understanding how to measure, fabricate, and install conduit and install, connect, and test wiring, outlets, and switches. Eventually, apprentices will master the drawing up of electrical diagrams. Although licensing may vary from state to state, electricians must pass an examination that measures their knowledge of electrical theory, the National Electrical Code, and local electric and building codes. Practiced electricians will every so often take courses to learn about any and all modifications in the National Electrical Code.
These apprenticeships typically span four years and include a minimum of 144 hours of classroom instruction and 2,000 hours of field training. In the classroom, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, apprentices are taught electrical theory, blueprint reading, mathematics, electrical code requirements, safety and first aid practices as well as specialized training in soldering, communications, and fire alarm systems.
Specific electrical contractors, who for the public sphere, as opposed to electricians who work for electrical contractors, often need specialized licenses for various job requirements. In some States, electrical contractors are required to prove their rank as master electricians. The minimum in most states is at least seven years of experience working as an electrician. Some municipalities may insist on a B.A. in electrical engineering or a related field before an electrician can be certified for special services or get his or her master’s degree.
Throughout their careers, electricians may be required to complete mandated safety programs, manufacturer-specific training, and management training courses. Installing low-voltage voice, data, and video systems has recently become the domain of well trained specialists. Moreover, some electricians my opt to become both electrical and general contractors, which, of course, require difficult studies in construction and business management.