Architecture and Construction > Electricians > Preparation
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Electricians - Preparation

To work as an electrician, you typically need to:

  • have a high school diploma or equivalent;
  • complete an apprenticeship program; and
  • pass a state licensing exam.

Education after high school

Most electricians learn their skills through apprenticeship training programs. Union and non-union apprenticeship programs are available. Admission to apprenticeship programs is competitive. To apply for an apprenticeship, you must:

  • have a high school diploma or equivalent;
  • be at least 18 years old; and
  • be in good physical condition.

Apprenticeship programs usually consist of four years of on-the-job training. You are paid for the time you spend on the job. In addition, each year you receive at least 144 hours of classroom training.

To learn about specific apprenticeship opportunities in your area, consult the US Department of Labor State Apprenticeship Information website.

You can prepare for an apprenticeship by taking courses at a professional-technical or two-year school. Courses in electronics, electricity, general math, and drafting prepare students to enter apprenticeship programs. However, these courses are not required to qualify for an apprenticeship.

On-the-job training

Some electricians receive informal on-the-job training from an experienced worker. Trainees usually begin as helpers. They learn to install conduit, connect wires, and test circuits. On-the-job training lasts several years.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be electricians. There are three different military occupations for electricians--building, power plant, and ship electricians. Training lasts from eight to 25 weeks, depending on your specialty. The longest training period is for ship electricians. Additional training occurs on the job.

If you receive this type of training in the military, you may earn credit for previous work experience when you enter a civilian apprenticeship program.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.