According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of electricians is expected to grow at a rate of 9 percent up to 2026.
From the statistics, we can conclude that the future has plenty of opportunities for electricians. Sadly, that's not a guarantee that jobs are going to be easy to come by. There's a host of requirements you need to fulfill before becoming a full-fledged electrician.
Most importantly, you need to complete an apprenticeship program, which can take up to four years. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) registers most of these programs, and you'll get a nationally recognized certificate after the program.
But before you get there, you need to become an electrical apprentice. How do you go about it?
Keep on reading to learn more!
Get Your Diploma
Before you get accepted into apprenticeship programs, you'll need to get your diploma or GED. You also need to take and pass high school algebra. Some states will require a grade of "C" or higher; others do not.
If you're still in high school, consider paying attention to subjects like English, math, and physics. Most programs will want to look at your grades for these subjects. Understanding basic scientific concepts can also give you an edge.
For those who didn't complete their high school, there are online high school diploma programs you can take from home. Acquiring a high school diploma means you can read and understand technical programs and schematics.
From there, if you're still deciding on whether or not to enter the electrical trade, you can check out blog posts like this one to learn more about it.
Get Pre-Apprenticeship Training
Just because you want to become an electrician doesn't mean all apprenticeship programs will accept you. Given there are many other hopefuls like you, you need something that gives you leverage if you want to grow your career.
Well, a pre-apprenticeship training will do the trick. Joining a trade school or vocational college can help you learn the fundamentals of electrical work. This way, you won't have a hard time trying to please your journeyman.
You can find great electrician programs in career colleges, trade schools, and technical institutes. A great introduction to this trade will help you gain essential expertise in the elements of electricity. For example, you can learn about workplace safety, electrical theory, and the National Electric Code.
If you're lucky, some pre-apprenticeship programs offer hands-on training to give you real-world experience. They allow you to work on real distribution systems, electrical units, and industrial equipment.
Understand the Requirements
To reduce the chances of rejection, you need to go through the requirements for becoming an electrical apprentice.
You must be 18 years of age or above to join the programs. Some programs will consider applicants who are 16 years of age. However, if your occupation ahs potential hazards, you must be 18.
A driver's license may also be necessary for some programs, and this will depend on the state where you're applying. You may also need to take and pass a drug test.
If you have been convicted before, specific requirements about criminal history may apply to you. Be sure to talk about this with your apprenticeship organizer or sponsor.
Some programs may also need to meet certain physical requirements. This is necessary for those occupations that involves performing physical functions. Still, your sponsor or organizer can guide you on this.
Submit Your Application
Once you're ready, be sure to submit your application as soon as possible. Many people are scrambling for such programs, and the last thing you want is to miss out.
The best way to start is to check the United States Department of Labor (DOL) for opportunities. The DOL recommends checking for openings in commercial job sites and your local media.
Another excellent source for apprenticeship opportunities is CareerOneStop, which is sponsored by the DOL. The site gives you access to programs that the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Apprenticeship sponsors together with state apprenticeship agencies.
You can also check openings that industry organizations offer. Such organizations include:
- Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC)
- The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)
- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
Keep in mind that you will need to take an aptitude test as part of your application. The purpose of this exam is to gauge your reading comprehension and your ability to complete basic algebra and arithmetic.
This is the point where your pre-apprenticeship training pays off. Some employers that sponsor these programs may require you to have basic electrical training when submitting your application.
Also, beware that some sponsors may need to take an interview, a process similar to applying for a typical job. Be sure you're prepared for it, too.
Register as an Apprentice
In some states, such as Colorado, Texas, and California, you must register as an electrical apprentice. For example, in Texas, the registration is essential to show that you're enrolled in a department-registered apprenticeship training program.
It's also important for you to register before being allowed to work on actual jobs. The registration can be free or may have a small fee. It all depends on your state requirements.
Become an Electrical Apprentice
This post has covered enough to help you join electrical apprenticeship programs. The good thing is that you'll be paid for your work from day one. According to DOL, the average starting wage of an apprentice is about $15.00 an hour.
You can also expect your wage to increase over time as you gain experience and learn new skills. The programs involve a minimum of 144 hours of classroom learning and 2,000 hours of hands-on training under a journeyman electrician.
Take the time to understand the state and national requirements of becoming an electrical apprentice. Once you get accepted into a program, be sure to avoid these career mistakes to ensure a successful career development.