Becoming an electrician is a major decision, but one that can bring you a lifetime of career opportunities. In most places, you must satisfy a series of educational and active work requirements. For example, you may have to complete a full educational program and then work for a certain number of years as an apprentice to someone who is licensed. If you're considering becoming an electrician, it's important to understand the qualifications that you need to meet.
In most cases, you'll have to have either a high school diploma or a GED to be accepted into an apprenticeship program. Some states even offer apprenticeship programs in high schools, which saves you the requirement of a diploma. Many apprenticeships require you to complete at least a year of high school algebra or a semester of algebra in college. If you've spent years working in the industry and can show documentation of it, you might be able to have the educational requirement waived for your enrollment in the apprenticeship.
As an electrician's apprentice, you'll be working in some unusual areas, including in high places as well as some tight quarters. Apprentices have to be physically capable of working in those types of environments comfortably. Additionally, individuals who are color blind are not able to work as electricians, because the colors of the wires mean specific things and must be identifiable. Additionally, as an electrician, it's important to be able to read, write and hear. These skills are required for hearing and reading job instructions and safety warnings.
Most apprenticeships require candidates to pass an aptitude test to show their general educational abilities. The test is administered by the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. The test includes a couple of sections. The first focuses on reading comprehension. The second addresses the applicant's mathematical abilities. It includes basic mathematical functions and algebra.
In most cases, apprentices must be at least eighteen years old, though there are a few junior programs that permit applicants who are seventeen, but only if they meet the other educational requirements. Many of the apprenticeship programs also require that applicants have a driver's license and can pass a drug test.
Apprenticeships are only available with licensed electricians. To become an electrician's apprentice, it requires a program sponsored by an electrician's union or a local electrical contractor. Some public utility companies also offer apprenticeship programs sometimes. It's important that applicants work through a legitimate, licensed apprenticeship, so make sure it's sponsored by an electrician or union.
Successful apprenticeships will last for four or five years in most cases. It's required that apprentices complete a couple thousand hours of training on the job and almost 150 hours in the classroom. If an applicant completes a vocational program, that program may be considered as part of that requirement. All work done by apprentices must be done under the supervision of a licensed electrician.
Working as an apprentice to an electrician means receiving a percentage of what the electrician earns. Sometimes, it can be less than half what the electrician earns. It's a dynamic field, though, and successful apprentices should be capable of adaptation and staying informed of the latest trends and expectations. Successful transition from an apprentice to a licensed electrician requires a candidate that is driven, self-motivating and able to work independently.
Understanding the key requirements to be successful at an electrician's apprenticeship is important, particularly if you're getting ready to take the leap into a program. Make sure you understand what will be expected of you, and be realistic about evaluating your abilities and your qualifications. This may save you from getting halfway through the program only to find that it isn't a good fit for you.
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