If you hang around electricians long enough, especially if you're an apprentice electrician, then you've probably heard about the National Electrical Code (NEC).
Let's get down to the nitty-gritty of what it is and why electricians learn this code on their way to becoming a licensed electrician.
Choosing the right gift can be tough. We've compiled our guide of best gifts for electricians to help you in your quest for just the right one.
Our roundup of electrician gift ideas are good for Christmas, Birthday, Father's Day, Mother's Day, Retirement, or just because.
Keep in mind personality and interests. Not everyone appreciates tools of the trade as a gift. On the other hand, tools can be a thoughtful gesture for some since they do wear out and may get lost.
Are you considering career choices and want to know how hard it is to become an electrician? It’s a valid question and we break down the answer to help you make a wise decision.
The good news is that an electrician career has staying power. As long as we are dependent on electricity, there will be a demand for electricians. To put it into perspective, most kitchens today consume more power than an entire home in the 1950’s. We're not shy about using power.
Three way light switches can be confusing, right? Watch our video tutorial that explains exactly how a 3-way light switch works. Once you understand the basics it's not that difficult to wire or troubleshoot your own 3-way switch.
Three-way switches allow you to operate a light, or device such as a ceiling fan, from two different locations. That's why a 3-way circuit always involves two 3-way switches.
Hand tools need a place to live. Enter the tool belt or pouch. Since there will be days a tool belt is strapped to your body for 8+ hours, the best tool belts for electricians have to be high in comfort and durability. You also want the ability to stay organized, having your most needed tools right at your fingertips.
While my first year as an electrician apprentice will not be your experience, I did find out quickly that apprentices live at the bottom.
If you feel like you have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, you're not alone. Apprentices are known to bear the brunt of menial tasks, and going through a trial by fire.
Let's face it! We want to know our options. Because electrician career paths diverge in many directions, you'll end up with a stack of choices.
Here's the thing, you won't need to worry about being stuck doing the same thing your entire career. There are many options and advancements possible in this trade - some you've probably never thought of!
Let’s be honest!
Starting a new career can be confusing at times, and perhaps a bit scary.
We are going to show you everything you need to know about how to become an electrician in our huge guide.
Keep reading for details about:
If you have asked, “What can I make as an electrician?”, I think you’re gonna like the answer!
Not only does the electrician enjoy steady and satisfying work – the electrician salary and wages are the highest paid of the skilled trades due to the technical knowledge and diverse skills that are required to perform a broad range of tasks. This is good news when learning how to become an electrician.
Keep in mind that electricians are typically paid an hourly wage as opposed to a yearly salary. An electrician apprentice usually starts at a percentage of the prevailing wage which increases incrementally as they gain experience.
Not to mention the job outlook for this field is expected to grow by 14% from 2014 to 2024 according to the United States Department of Labor! That is double the average of all occupations.
Employers are reporting that it is difficult to find qualified electricians, so the job outlook is very good.
Interestingly, about 1 in 10 electricians were self-employed in 2014. Self-employed electricians often work in residential construction and may have the ability to set their own schedule. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Electricians, on the Internet atwww.bls.gov.
From entry-level through late-career, the pay of an electrician is typically higher than other careers. (During mid-career, plumbers are slightly higher.)
Compare the yearly salary of an entry-level electrician with a plumber, welder and HVAC Tech:
Stick around in just about any profession and it pays off. Employers need workers with extensive knowledge and experience. You can see in the chart below that a late-career electrician earns more than those in other trades.
The starting wage for an apprentice is typically 40% of a fully trained electrician’s wage. Your pay should increase along with your skills and value to your employer.
Electricians in manufacturing and power generation and transmission usually have higher wages than those in construction.
Almost all electricians work full time, which may include evenings and weekends. Of course, work schedules can change during bad weather or unpredictable delays. On the other hand, during scheduled maintenance or on construction sites with a looming deadline, you can expect to work overtime.
Want the full scoop on the electrician’s salary? We spill the beans in the Electrician’s Salary and Wage Guide.
Now we come to our 5 steps about:
We’ve divided our guide about how to become an electrician into 5 easy to understand steps.
I think that once you’ve finished reading, you will feel confident to get started in a career as an electrician.
Now, let’s get started!
It can be a challenge deciding on a vocation. Without a clear picture of what you’re getting yourself into, you may feel unsettled or indecisive.
The first step in learning how to become an electrician is to make sure you understand what the job entails. With this in mind, take an in-depth look into the electrician job description. It will help reveal whether or not a career in the electrical field is a good fit for you.
Let’s kick off with simple abilities and personal likes/dislikes that can affect your contentment in the electrical trade.
Can you say YES to the following?
Working as an electrician requires a strong work ethic and positive attitude to be successful. The work can be hard with long days on your feet.
Because there’s a risk of burns, cuts, electrical shocks, and falls from ladders or scaffolding, you will be required to comply with strict safety guidelines.
Electrician installing outdoor connections on a multi-unit house.
Well – it depends! Nevertheless, you can be sure it will fall into one or more of these categories:
Simply put, electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical systems for homes and buildings. Specific job details of electricians will, of course, vary depending on your employer.
What does that mean, really? Well, let’s get to the nitty-gritty!
When it comes to AC power -whether it’s power outlets, lighting, equipment, appliances, machines, overhead/underground service, inside or outside – electricians are involved.
Power is supplied to a structure by the local utility. It comes overhead or underground and typically ends up at a meter.
After that, practically everything falls under the purview of an electrical contractor. Everything from A to Z is installed, wired and tested by an electrician. I’m talking service feeder, panel(s), branch circuits, power outlets, lighting systems, and controls.
A day in the life of an electrician. Installing solar panels.
Electricians are responsible to make sure all is done correctly, safely, and to code. This means knowing the code.
You will learn to read schematics and blue prints (which are almost never blue) so that you can bid a job, purchase the right equipment, or just be up to speed on what goes where on a project.
Hungry for more? Read the job description of an electrician at the United States Department of Labor as well. They have done an excellent job of explaining this career choice.
The second step to become an electrician is real short and sweet. Simply double-check that you meet the following general requirements:
Keep in mind that requirements may vary slightly from state to state or jurisdiction.
Now we come to the nuts and bolts of learning how to become an electrician.
It’s time to choose an electrician apprenticeship training program or trade school. More than anything, your apprenticeship is where you will learn the electrician trade and run with it.
An electrician apprentice works under direct supervision of a licensed electrician, while also taking approved classes. As a result, you will be able to get your hands dirty by applying what you learn in the classroom. We call this On-The-Job-Training (OJT).
A significant benefit is getting paid while you learn.
Get paid while you learn.
Each state has different requirements. Still, you can expect your apprenticeship to take a total of 4-5 years to become a licensed electrician. To clarify, that includes close to 8,000 hours of OJT and at least 288 hours in the classroom.
Be aware that you may need to spend a few weeks or even months finding an apprenticeship spot with a local company that is hiring. This varies with region.
Apprenticeships are the optimal way to train to become an electrician; you will be well-prepared to test for your journeyman’s license when completed.
The most popular electrician apprenticeship programs are:
1. Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC)
2. Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)
3. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
My advice is to choose an electrician apprenticeship program that combines classroom study with actual hands-on learning as an apprentice.
Find one that best fits your needs and personality. Online or distance learning should be only a last resort.
We have prepared full guides for each of the top 3 apprenticeship programs.
Choose a number below to read more:
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Each guide lays out:
Classroom lab work for electrician apprentices.
Local contractors and local community colleges are also a good choice to become an electrician apprentice. You will receive great hands-on-training and well-rounded classroom training to prepare you for this high-demand field.
In fact, many community colleges work with local contractors, as well as, established national apprenticeship programs.
With the IEC apprenticeship for example, you may also earn 40 hours of college credit.
Be aware that each apprenticeship follows either an open or closed shop philosophy.
Merit Shop is a relatively new term that expresses a philosophy that awards work to the most qualified and lowest bidder regardless of labor affiliation. It encourages open competition and a free enterprise approach based on merit.
You may have heard the term, Open Shop, which is another word for Merit Shop. Merit Shop=Open Shop=Non-union
Want an extensive look into the Merit Shop philosophy? Visit abcmeritshopproud.org.
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
A Union Shop is divided into two types: Pre-entry closed shop and post-entry closed shop.
Pre-entry closed shop is simply called closed shop. It means that an employer will only hire union members and the employees must remain in the union.
Post-entry closed shop is commonly known as union shop in the U.S. In a union shop, all employees must join the union if they have not already done so. Those hired by the employer are required to be accepted as a member of the union.
Union shop = Closed Shop = Union
You can read more about union shops at Wikipedia.
Again, here are the links to our full apprenticeship guides.
Choose a number below to read more:
IEC Electrician Apprenticeship
ABC Electrician Apprenticeship
IBEW Electrician Apprenticeship
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
The standard for electrical safety around the world is the National Electrical Code (NEC). Additions and updates are continually made to it. Studying the NEC is step four in knowing how to become an electrician.
Your exam for your Journeyman Electrician’s license will test your knowledge of this code, and of electrical theory. The format and content may vary from state to state. You may also have questions about your own state’s laws and regulations.
Even if you don’t like to study (and who does, really?) there is just no getting around this one. This is a big step to the question, “How do I become an electrician?”
Need some study tips centered around grasping the National Electrical Code (NEC)? Mastering the NEC codebook is the surefire ways to pass your electrician journeyman’s exam.
Since people learn in different ways, it is important to find what works for you!
Some are visual learners, other’s auditory or verbal, while still others may need hands-on involvement. You may prefer a quiet room, while others prefer music or background noise. Do whatever helps you to concentrate.
We won’t cover general study and concentration tips, because plenty of resources already exist for those topics.
Let’s delve into the best ways to study the National Electrical Code in order to pass the electrician’s license exam.
The thing is, the exam is timed. If you don’t know the material or where to quickly find it, you’re sunk.
But, I have no doubt, that with proper preparation, you can pass the exam to become a Journeyman Electrician. Choose the study tips and resources that make the most sense for you.
I have compiled a list of some resources to make it easier for you.
This is the newest addition and will have all the updates and additions. It is the hardcover edition.
Now, here’s a little trick to help you organize all that data in your handbook and make it easier to find. It’s an inexpensive tool I strongly suggest you purchase to save yourself a lot of headaches.
Grab a set of 48 self-adhesive tabs to organize your handbook. This will limit your time searching for key information. They are durable and come with a placement guide.
This set includes the newest edition NEC Hardbound book with 96 adhesive tabs.
Visual learners, you may want to invest in an Illustrated Guide to the NEC as a supplement. Do not use it as your main handbook. It is a tool to better understand the Code.
This quick reference guide can be used for study as well. This 6-page water resistant card has NEC essentials, and is handy for on-the-job code checks too.
At this point you are now well informed about how to become an electrician. There is only one more step!
You’re in the homestretch of our guide, How to Become an Electrician. The final step is to pass the exam to become a licensed electrician.
Read on for valuable tips and exam strategies!
You are a rare individual if you’re not at least a little nervous on exam day. We’re giving you NEC exam prep tips to make that day smoother.
So take a deep breath and realize that a normal level of stress can actually help you think faster and more effectively.
Make sure you know the testing guidelines for your state, and are fully prepared:
Knowing the following test-taking strategies can be a huge help when taking the NEC exam.
Remember to pace yourself! The exam is timed. The last thing you want to do is spend too much time on only one question.
At the same time, you don’t want to rush. Read the questions carefully. Even one word can change the substance of the question.
If you follow the above NEC study and test-taking tips, you will have a good shot at passing your exam the first time.
If not, don’t give up! It is not uncommon for electricians to have to take the test more than once. Each time will give you more experience and understanding of the process, and make it that much easier the next round.
If you have already passed your NEC exam, please Comment with your own test-taking tips to help others!
Now that you have the whole picture of how to become an electrician and an electrician apprentice, I hope you feel well-prepared to pursue a career in this fascinating field of electricity.
Remember, your first years as a licensed Journeyman electrician will be full of continued learning, and developing skills and knowledge.
Prove yourself a valuable employee and you will have plenty of opportunity to advance in the electrical trade. Check out The Electrician’s Career Path for guidance.
I always welcome questions and comments.
Do you have some of your own tips on how to become an electrician? A funny experience as an electrician apprentice? Helpful NEC exam tips? Let’s help each other out!