Join the ABC Electrician Apprenticeship
If you have an interest in becoming a licensed electrician, consider joining the ABC electrician apprenticeship (Associated Builders and Contractors).
Their program is designed to take someone who may have little or no experience in the field to Journey-level in about four years.
My own electrician apprenticeship journey can help you know what to expect.
As an electrician apprentice with ABC, you will learn on-the-job with the supervision of a skilled craftsperson, while working for an approved contractor.
Like most apprenticeships, it combines hands-on training with classroom instruction.
ABC has 70 chapters across the country and has become the world leader in apprenticeship and craft training in the merit shop construction industry. (Merit shop philosophy encourages free enterprise and open competition based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.)
ABC trains craft students, in 20 areas including electrician, welding, ironworks, plumbing, HVAC, carpentry, etc.
Learn more about ABC from leaders within the organization.
ABC’s training programs are registered with the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship. These programs meet all federal and state requirements for formal apprenticeship and prevailing wage work including employer-sponsored classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Upon successful completion, craft workers are recognized at the journey level in their trade and are awarded their certificate.
How Long is the ABC Apprenticeship?
In 4 years, you will complete 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and at least 576 hours of classroom instruction.
You can expect to work approximately 40 hours a week and attend three-hour classes held two evenings a week (MW or TTH) usually from 6-9pm.
The purpose of the program is to provide you with a comprehensive knowledge of the trade.
At the end of 4 years, graduates receive their Journeyman card and are registered with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Each ABC chapter requirements and program may vary slightly. I recommend you contact your local chapter to ensure you receive the most accurate information for you: Look for an ABC chapter near you.
How to Join the ABC Electrical Apprenticeship
- Submit an application with registration fee.
- Submit 3 letters of character reference.
- Submit your high school transcripts.
- Complete an employer/apprenticeship agreement and other details as needed.
- Take a Math Pre-test
2. Brush Up on Your Math Skills
You will need to have the necessary skill level in math in order to succeed as an electrician. Here is an example of a Math Pre-Test you may need to complete in order to start as an apprentice with ABC.
3. Pass an Interview Process
After successfully meeting the written requirements, an applicant must then pass an interview process.
4. Wait for an Apprenticeship Opening
Applicants meeting the minimum requirements will be entered into the ranked applicant pool to fill openings as they occur.
Benefits of ABC to you, the Apprentice
- Paid employment during training
- Learn skills needed by employers throughout the industry
- Credit towards an associate degree at a community college for completion of your program
- Receive related instruction to supplement on-the-job training
- Receive formal on-the-job training from a qualified worker
- Earn regular pay increases as job skills increase
- Acquire a skill to compete more effectively in the labor market
What is Merit Shop Philosophy?
ABC is based on the merit shop philosophy, which encourages free enterprise and open competition based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation. Visit abcmeritshopproud.org for an in-depth look at this philosophy.
ABC Indiana/Kentucky stated it well: “Anyone in the industry should be evaluated, judged, awarded, and rewarded based on his or her merit. Owners should be able to select the most economical and best bidder regardless of that bidder’s status.
Learn the benefits of Merit Shop Philosophy
What Curriculum Will I Use?
ABC works closely with NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) in the development, revision and publication of the NCCER Curriculum used for the classroom training portion of the apprenticeship. They offer a comprehensive, 4-level Electrical curriculum that complies with DOL (Dept. of Labor) time-based standards for apprenticeship. This overview shows you the topics you will cover during your 4 years of training to be an electrician. NCCR has served the construction industry for 20 years.
ABC Curriculum Guide:
Electrician Apprenticeship Training
First Year Curriculum
OSHA 10-hour Safety
Introduction to Construction Math
Introduction to Hand Tools
Introduction to Power Tools
Introduction to Construction Drawings
Introduction to Basic Rigging
Basic Communication Skills
Basic Employ-ability Skills
Introduction to Materials Handling
Orientation to the Electrical Trade
Introduction to Electrical Circuits
Introduction to the NEC
Raceways and Fittings
Conductors and Cables
Basic Electrical Construction Drawings
Residential Electrical Services
Electrical Test Equipment
Second Year Curriculum
Motors: Theory and Application
Pull and Junction Boxes
Conductor Terminations and Splices
Grounding and Bonding
Circuit Breakers and Fuses
Control Systems and Fundemental Concepts
Third Year Curriculum
Load Calculations: Branch & Feeder Circuits
Conductor Selection and Calculations
Practical Applications of Lighting
Commercial Electrical Services
Voice, Data, and Video
Fourth Year Curriculum
Load Calculations: Feeders & Services
Health Care Facilities
Standby and Emergency Systems
Basic Electronic Theory
Fire Alarm Systems
Advanced Motor Controls
Heat Tracing and Freeze Protection
Motor Operation and Maintenance
Fundamentals of Crew Leadership
The above guide is taken from ABC of Iowa. Each state's guide may vary.
Become a Journeyman Electrician
After 4 years of work and study, you should be well-prepared to take your Journeyman electrician exam.
Climb the Electrician Career Ladder
Continue to work the required hours for your area, and one day take the exam to become a Master Electrician. (Some states do not license Master Electricians. In those cases the next step after a Journeyman is to become a licensed contractor.)
It is a good idea to review our Electrician's Career Guide. You have a wide variety of positions available as you gain skill and knowledge. And, it gives tips for getting that promotion you have your eyes on.
Electrical contracting is a fascinating field that continues to evolve with technology!
Start your career by joining the ABC Electrician Apprenticeship. It's a great way to educate yourself and advance into the many diverse and rewarding positions available.
I welcome comments and questions. I have worked over 2 decades as an electrician, and I will do my best to answer your questions.
The Electrical Guy