Interested in how to become a licensed electrician? Joining the IEC electrician apprenticeship program is one of the best ways to earn your license. With this trade school, you’ll be well prepared to move up the career ladder to possible owning your own company someday.
Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) is regarded as one of the best in the industry. They train about 10,000 apprentices a year through 70 training centers. IEC can help you succeed as an electrician as well.
My electrician apprentice story can show you what to expect working as a newbie in this trade.
How Long is the IEC Electrician Apprenticeship?
In this 4-year trade school program, you will receive at least 8,000 hours of paid on-the-job training and at least 576 hours of technical instruction. Local and state requirements may vary.
Their programs are approved by the U.S. Dept. of Labor and the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.
A great advantage is gaining college credit for your training. The American Council on Education has awarded college credit equivalency to IEC’s program.
IEC is based on the Merit Shop Philosophy. This philosophy encourages free enterprise and open competition based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.
After you have completed your 4 year apprenticeship, you will take the exam to get your journeyman’s license.
What Can I do With a Journeyman Electrician’s License?
With your license you may be hired by the same company you worked for as an apprentice or you can choose to apply to other journeyman electrician job openings.
As a licensed electrician, you have extensive career options as you continue learning new skills and bank hours on the job.
You may find it helpful to visit our Electrician’s Career Guide that includes an infographic, job descriptions, and tips to advance in your career.
Looking for salary and wage info? Our essential guide to the electrician’s salary and wages should be a helpful resource.
Explore our 5-Step guide to become an electrician. It includes exam study tips, skills/abilities electricians need and more.
IEC’s General Application Process
To start the process of joining IEC’s electrician apprenticeship, apply at your local IEC Chapter office. The application fee is minimal.
- Have a High School diploma or GED (or be a high school youth apprentice).
- Fill out the application, submit all required paperwork, such as your high school transcript, and pay the registration fee which varies by location. Here is an example of an application.
- Achieve a passing grade on a math assessment test (this varies by location). You may be required to attend a 3-day class if you do not pass your assessment.
- Pass a reading test. (Not required at all locations)
- Attend orientation.
- Have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation to go between classes and job sites.
- Work for an IEC contractor. The chapter office can guide you in seeking an apprentice position.
It’s possible that you’ll be asked to take a drug test.
You must contact your local chapter and follow all their requirements. Each location is slightly different and follows local/state requirements for licensing.
For more information on qualifications, skills, abilities and job description, check out our 5-step Guide to becoming an electrician.
Study for the Math Assesment
You can evaluate your math readiness by taking this sample test provided by IEC.
Want to brush up on your math skills for the math assessment test? Go to Math IXL and start with the grade 8 section. IXL will track your score, and the questions will automatically increase in difficulty as you improve!
If you do not pass IEC’s math assessment, you may be required to attend a 3-day class.
What Electrician Apprentice Programs Does IEC Offer?
IEC offers these apprenticeship programs:
- 4-year standard Electrician Apprentice
- Modified Residential Electrical Specialist
- Live-Online Training
4-Year Electrician Apprenticeship: This is the primary electrician apprenticeship offered by IEC. Over 4-5 years, you will complete at least 8,000 hours of paid on-the-job training, and a minimum of 576 hours of technical instruction. Classes are typically held 1-2 evenings per week.
Modified Residential Electrical Specialist: State and local requirements vary, but in this program you will complete 4,000 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 288 hours of technical instruction.
Live Online Apprentice Training: Students meet online one night a week for classes taught by an IEC instructor. “Using a web-based program designed for online learning, apprentices see their instructor, watch live demonstrations and are able to ask real-time questions with VoIP. Instructors are also available for individual questions prior to each class.” These online classes meet Department of Labor requirements. IEC Chesapeake is an example. Not available at all locations.
Where Can I Find an IEC Chapter?
IEC has a list of chapters organized by state. I highly recommend joining the IEC electrician apprenticeship program to become an electrician, if there is a chapter near you.
How Much is Tuition for IEC’s Electrician Apprenticeship?
Although tuition to IEC varies by location, it’s close to $2,200 per year for members. Non-members tuition is approximately $3,500 per year.
The member/non-member costs are determined by your employer. Your employer must be a member of IEC for you to qualify for member rates.
Books and supplies will be approximately $1,000.
Though not guaranteed, in many cases, employers pay for all or part of your training program and textbooks – plus you get paid to work full-time as an apprentice.IECI.org
Since you’re getting paid for on-the-job training, your cost is significantly lower than a 4-year college tuition.
Many contractors contribute to your tuition costs – anywhere from partial to full tuition reimbursements.
“Through not guaranteed, in many cases, employers pay for all or part of your training program and textbooks – plus you get paid to work full-time as an apprentice.” ieci.org
Electrician Apprenticeship Scholarships
Does IEC offer scholarships for their electrician apprenticeship program? Yes!
IEC has a foundation that awards scholarships to certain electrician apprenticeship applicants. It’s a blind selection process. The selection committee looks at the following criteria:
- Academic performance – 20%
- Community service/school activities – 10%
- Essay that describes yourself and why you chose this school – 30%
- Field of study – 20%
- Letter of recommendation from sponsor – 10%
- Recommendation from chapter Executive Director – 10%
Applicants for the IEC Foundation Scholarship must be:
- A high school graduate or have a GED
- A U.S. citizen or legally living/working in the U.S.
- Sponsored by a member of the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC)
- Enrolled in an approved IEC apprenticeship OR
- Enrolled full-time (12 or more credit hours) in college pursuing a degree in the electrical industry OR
- A journeyman enrolled in college part-time (less than 12 credit hours) pursuing a degree in the electrical industry AND working full-time for an IEC member.
Veterans, IEC has partnered with Troops to Trades to provide training grants and scholarships to help you find a career in the trades.
IEC’s First Year Electrician Apprenticeship Curriculum
Some of the curriculum highlights you’ll learn your first year as an apprentice are:
- Lighting and appliance circuits
- Conductor sizes & types
- Switch control & receptacle bonding
- Ohms law
- Bedroom and kitchen circuits
- Low voltage systems
- Pipe bending
What is the Second Year Electrician Apprenticeship Curriculum?
During your second year as an electrician apprentice with IEC, your curriculum will cover things like:
- Trigonometry & vector math
- Intro to AC electricity
- Inductance & transformer theory
- Three-phase AC
- General wiring, wire conduit, and box sizing
- Grounding, bonding and over-current protection
- Industrial & commercial wiring
- Transformer operation, installation, sizing and protection
What is the Third Year Electrician Apprentice Curriculum?
You’ll continue to expand your knowledge during your third year IEC electrician apprenticeship with the following curriculum:
- Blueprint reading
- Mechanical systems
- Grounding conductors
- Fault currents
- Revising circuits
- Power distribution systems
- Hazardous locations
- Signs and sin connections
What is the Fourth Year Electrician Apprenticeship Curriculum:
Your fourth and final year with the IEC electrician apprenticeship includes these curriculum topics:
- Electromechanical and solid state relays
- Programmable controls
- Accelerating & decelerating method
- Preventative maintenance and troubleshooting
- Triacs, diacs, and transistor amplifiers
- Design and protection of circuits
- Motors, controls, air conditioning, and refrigeration
- Code review and test preparation
The full four-year IEC Curriculum Guide reveals all the topics covered in IEC’s electrician apprenticeship. It’s a lot! You will be well-equipped for the exam to become a journeyman electrician.
What are Electrical Apprentice Wages?
The smart thing about an electrician apprenticeship is earning while you learn.
You can generally expect to be paid at 50% of the journeyman’s hourly wage rate. This rate is determined by the Apprenticeship and Training Committee.
You can receive systematic wage increases at the following times throughout your 4-year apprenticeship:
- Every 1,000 hours worked
- Completing and passing the semester
This process continues throughout the 4-year apprenticeship. When the apprentice has successfully completed the training program, including qualifying tests, he or she will be eligible for licensed electrician wages.
How Should I Prepare for the Journeyman’s License Exam?
Completing your apprenticeship is extremely satisfying. You’re now ready to study for your Journeyman’s license exam. This starts with learning the National Electrical Code (Nec).
I strongly urge you to follow these study tips to better succeed in your exam.
Many IEC locations offer prep classes. But, there are also online resources you might want to check out:
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.
It’s a good idea to inspect our electrician’s career guide. You have a wide variety of positions available as you gain skill and knowledge. You’ll get tips for getting that promotion you have your eyes on too.
Electrical contracting is a fascinating field that continues to evolve with technology! Joining the IEC Electrician Apprenticeship is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door.
I welcome comments and questions. I’ve worked over 2 decades as an electrician, and I will do my best to answer your questions.Steve