News & Events

April 28, 2022

How Long Does it Take to Become an Electrician?

How long it takes to be an Electrician

There’s never been a better time to start a career as an electrician. Workforce shortages have been made worse by the fact that about 10,000 electricians retire each year, but only around 7,000 new electricians enter the field. Experts project strong job growth across the entire U.S., and median hourly wages are high. With an apprenticeship and electrician training, you can fill those jobs.

The Value of Working in the Skilled Trades

The “trades” refer to hands-on jobs that require specialized skills. Most people in the trades get experience through vocational courses, on-the-job training, and formal apprenticeships. Working in the trades can be physically demanding but also highly satisfying. Workers who are drawn to the trades enjoy opportunities to build or repair the items that are vital for conducting everyday life.

Some of the specific job titles include:

  • Mechanic
  • Carpenter
  • Welder
  • Heavy equipment operator
  • Mason
  • Plumber
  • Ironworker
  • Metal fabricator
  • Electrician

Working in the trades requires stamina. However, it’s a mistake to assume it’s all about physical strength. Critical thinking skills, good people skills, the ability to think a problem through to the end, and the patience to handle stressful situations is all part of the job.

What do Electricians Do?

Electricians work in commercial, residential, and industrial settings. They are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing many types of electrical systems. An electrician might opt to pursue a number of specializations within the field including:

  • Commercial electrician
  • Highway systems electrician
  • Marine electrician
  • Residential electrician
  • Industrial electrician
  • Electrical machine repairer
  • Aviation electrician
  • Outside lineman
  • Electrical inspector
  • Electrical contractor

This list is only a small representation of the opportunities that are open when you begin electrician training.

No matter the specialization, electricians use different types of hand tools and power tools. They need to be able to accurately read highly technical electrical system blueprints. Electricians may work alone or in collaboration with engineers and architects.

Without electricians, there would be no evenings spent watching a game in the stadium, no airports, no internet, and we’d all be reading by candlelight after the sun goes down.  In other words, electricians are essential to modern life.

Becoming an Electrician

On average, it takes about five years to become a fully certified journeyman electrician. Journeymen electricians are individuals who’ve completed all the training and gathered the experience needed to work independently. They are licensed but do not have the same licensure as master electricians.  The total time it takes to become a journeyman depends on the path you take.

Some people choose to strengthen their educational background by attending a technical or vocational school. Many technical schools offer programs on electrical safety, circuitry, and other basic electrical information. Certificate programs typically take several weeks or months to complete.

After learning all they can at technical school, it’s time to find a four-year apprenticeship program. Not every apprenticeship requires attendance at a technical school. However, a high school diploma or GED is usually required.

What Happens During an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships for electrician training last four or five years. During each year of the program, you can expect to receive a total of approximately 2,000 hours of technical instruction and paid on-the-job training. That comes to about 40 hours per week. Yes, being an electrical apprentice is a full-time commitment. Applicants with prior experience in the field may qualify for a shorter training period.

Technical instruction may include:

  • Blueprint reading
  • Mathematics
  • Learning electrical codes
  • Safety and first-aid practices
  • Electrical theory
  • Specialization classes

Through classes and paid work, apprentices become qualified electricians who are ready to take the journeyman licensing examination. Once licensed in their state, electricians can work independently or with an established contractor.

What is a Master Electrician?

If you are a goal-oriented person who aims for the top, think about becoming a master electrician. A master electrician starts as a journeyman. After racking up more than 17,000 hours of job experience (including journeyman training), a journeyman can apply to take the master electrician exam.

Passing the master electrician’s exam will qualify you to receive licensure from the Department of Labor and Industry in your state.

One key element to becoming a master electrician is to continue working steadily as an electrician after attaining journeyman status. If you don’t continue working as an electrician you can’t accumulate the hours of experience that are needed to qualify for master electrician.

Only master electricians are qualified to train apprentices.

How do I find Electrician Training?

Several groups across the U.S., including contractor associations and unions, sponsor apprenticeship programs. Some contractors also pay for classroom training as part of the sponsorship. IEC offers paid training and apprenticeships to those in the Tri-State area who are interested in pursuing a fulfilling and lucrative career as an electrician.  Contact us today for information about apprenticeship programs or help with career placement if you are already a licensed electrician.