Electrical and power transmission programs prepare people to work as licensed electricians. Students learn to install wires, cables, and other types of electric lines. They study codes, safety rules, and laws. They also learn how to use tools and read blueprints.
Light runs a strong fourth place behind the three basic human needs of food, clothing, and shelter. In fact, some people suffer depression (seasonal affective disorder, or SAD) with a decrease in natural light. As an electrician, you "light up the world." Then again, you do more than turn on the lights. You may install and maintain controls for power, air conditioning, and refrigeration. You may set up and monitor electronic controls for machines in business and industry. You even may set up and maintain electrical power plants.
Most electricians learn the trade in apprenticeships that take four to five years after high school. Apprentices complete a set number of classroom hours and receive training on the job. You begin working as a helper to an experienced electrician. Each year, you gradually advance your skills. After completing the apprenticeship, you may get trade certification or licensing.
Not all electricians learn their skills through an apprenticeship. Some learn by working as helpers to experienced electricians. If you do not participate in a formal apprenticeship, you are still likely to take courses. Typically you take related courses at trade or correspondence schools.
In addition, many private vocational schools and community colleges offer short programs in construction trades. About 20 community colleges also offer one-year certificate and two-year associate degree programs. Often these programs are part of larger apprenticeship programs.
Some high schools coordinate vocational programs with community colleges. This allows high school students to take electrical courses before they graduate. In some cases, they are prepared for entry-level work after they receive their high school diploma.
During your apprenticeship, you may choose to specialize in:
• Power transmission
• New construction
• Preventive maintenance and repair
You may also focus on electrical installations in houses, businesses, or factories.
Another possible specialty is manufacturing. Electricians in this area work on motors, transformers, and generators. They may also work on machine tools and industrial robots.