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What's Needed:

  • Unlike many other types of workers electricians obtain the bulk of their education and training through exhaustive apprenticeships.
  • To help get a more rapid start in this profession some get started by attending a technical school and completing a certificate program related to basic electrical topics. Graduates typically receive some credit towards their apprenticeship.
  • Electrician apprenticeships last for four years and require participants to log at least 2000 hours of on-the-job training. They must also log at least 144 "training" hours. This off-site training typically introduces and reinforces complex concepts or techniques related to the trade.
  • Aspiring electricians receive monetary compensation throughout their apprenticeships.

What you study:

Aspiring electricians should study the following subjects and techniques:

  • State and local building codes
  • Workplace safety
  • Basic electrodynamics
  • Circuitry
  • Wiring and switching techniques
  • Algebra and geometry

What courses you'll take

Below are examples of courses that you might take as a student studying to become an electrician.

Introduction to Electrical CircuitsBasic physics of electrical current; components used in electrical circuits including cables capacitors power sources switches and sensors; symbols and conventions used in electrical diagrams; meters and other tools used in electrical work; proper safety procedures; diagnosing and repairing common problems in circuits.Introduce foundational concepts of electrical systems.
Electrical WiringCore concepts and standards of the National Electric Code (NEC) including rules for voltage markings and signage proper wiring connections and placement of potentially dangerous components; panelboards (components that divide the electrical system into subsidiary circuits) and switchgears (sets of disconnect switches such as fuses and circuit breakers); electrical bonding and grounding (wiring the system in a way that minimizes risk of electric shock).Familiarize students with standards and regulations of electrical work.
Electric Machines and MotorsTypes of motors including alternating current (AC) direct current (DC) three-phase (motors used in high-power applications like electrical grids); series circuits (circuits in which the components are connected along a single path) and parallel circuits (circuits in which the same voltage reaches all components); functions of control switches and power supplies.Enable students to assess and repair electrical issues with motors.
Electrical Work in ConstructionResidential and commercial electrical rules of the NEC; the Uniform Building Code (UBC); common city and county ordinances related to electrical work in construction; Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for safety on construction sites; wiring in drywall concrete and other construction materials; electrical blueprints; roles of electricians in overall construction workflow.Ready students to perform safe and professional electrical work on a construction site.

Video Overview

A quick look at what electricians do in their work. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.

Certifications and Licensing

Electricians who wish to make themselves more attractive to certain employers may obtain specialized certifications from the NJATC. These might include an instrumentation certification solar electricity certification and various special-craft certifications. Although these do not function as employment prerequisites they may help boost a job applicant's profile.

However most states do require electricians to obtain local licenses in order to practice their craft in a legal manner. In addition most electricians join their local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers chapter. In most areas these two credentials are a prerequisite for finding employment. However some self-employed electricians may not need to join the IBEW.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Electricians generally work full-time during regular business hours. Given the demanding nature and abundance of their work few electricians are able to work part-time. In fact some may find themselves working more than 50 hours a week in order to meet a pressing construction deadline. Those who work on major construction projects or conduct emergency electrical repairs after storms and blowouts may have to work irregular hours including overnight shifts. On the other hand self-employed electricians largely set their own working hours. However those who wish to build a reputation for responsiveness may need to be on call at all times.

Work location:

Due to the hands-on nature of the industry electricians cannot work off-site or from home. They must be willing to travel within a specific geographic area and work in a variety of potentially dangerous environments. These might include old renovated or under-construction buildings. Those who conduct emergency repairs may be asked to work outdoors in poor weather conditions.

Recommended Websites

The following websites contain useful information for those who wish to become electricians.

  • National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee — The NJATC is a national organization that partners directly with local apprenticeship groups to train and certify aspiring electricians in accordance with the standards set by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Its site contains information about finding apprenticeships certification classes and state-specific electrician licenses.
  • California Apprenticeship Coordinators Association — The California Apprenticeship Coordinators Association contains career-related information like salary ranges job duties and job growth forecasts. Although it caters to residents of California the information on its site should be useful to aspiring electricians across the country.
  • U.S. Department of Labor — The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts out a detailed fact sheet for aspiring electricians. It contains useful information about work responsibilities job flexibility salary ranges and the industry's job outlook. This site is a great place to start learning more about becoming an electrician.
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is a labor advocacy group that provides a wide range of resources for its electrician members. These include political advocacy certification and training information and a full-service jobs board.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$78180$43K – $94K11200.65%
AKFairbanks$74950$51K – $109K2800.79%
ALAnniston – Oxford$39960$31K – $62K1700.39%
ALAuburn – Opelika$35070$27K – $46K1900.40%
ALBirmingham – Hoover$40920$28K – $55K29300.60%
ALDecatur$40160$30K – $57K2500.48%
ALDothan$33310$26K – $43K2800.51%
ALFlorence – Muscle Shoals$35130$27K – $57K3400.65%
ALGadsden$49960$26K – $58K1500.44%
ALHuntsville$41540$30K – $68K8600.42%
ALMobile$44260$29K – $58K16500.98%
ALMontgomery$38360$30K – $46K4500.29%
ALTuscaloosa$49550$27K – $61K6000.67%
ARFayetteville – Springdale – Rogers$40860$28K – $53K7000.35%
ARFort Smith$39000$24K – $53K3200.29%
ARHot Springs$35060$27K – $47K2000.56%
ARJonesboro$37070$28K – $47K1300.26%
ARLittle Rock – North Little Rock – Conway$40880$27K – $56K13000.39%
ARPine Bluff$50800$30K – $72K2000.59%
AZFlagstaff$42080$32K – $58K1300.23%
AZLake Havasu City $ Kingman$42400$31K – $57K1500.34%
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$39410$28K – $59K82700.48%
AZPrescott$46840$32K – $60K1300.25%
AZTucson$39090$25K – $56K10500.30%
AZYuma$40050$28K – $64K1400.25%
CABakersfield – Delano$62770$37K – $80K11700.43%
CAChico$49070$33K – $69K1500.23%
CAEl Centro$58200$41K – $110K1800.35%
CAFresno$51470$32K – $76K8500.27%
CAHanford – Corcoran$58210$46K – $76K800.20%
CALos Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)$65430$36K – $91K98100.25%
CAMadera – Chowchilla$53950$39K – $87K800.21%
CAMerced$49490$33K – $73K1200.20%
CAModesto$55940$36K – $78K6400.42%
CANapa$66260$49K – $93K1400.22%
CAOakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)$78640$49K – $108K30100.31%
CAOxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura$61790$41K – $74K9000.31%
CARedding$61530$42K – $90K1800.32%
CARiverside – San Bernardino – Ontario$55860$33K – $92K33700.29%
CASacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville$57430$38K – $90K23900.29%
CASalinas$57960$30K – $85K2700.17%
CASan Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos$52700$36K – $87K46000.36%
CASan Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)$76840$49K – $124K19200.19%
CASan Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara$66580$33K – $118K37100.41%
CASan Luis Obispo – Paso Robles$66590$49K – $88K5700.56%
CASanta Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)$58650$39K – $88K44000.31%
CASanta Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta$55830$35K – $90K3400.20%
CASanta Cruz – Watsonville$59610$47K – $85K1800.22%
CASanta Rosa – Petaluma$63200$24K – $94K5100.30%
CAStockton$58570$40K – $88K6700.34%
CAVallejo – Fairfield$65310$35K – $121K5000.41%
CAVisalia – Porterville$48920$30K – $64K3600.27%
CAYuba City$54310$34K – $82K600.17%
COBoulder$41600$32K – $66K5200.33%
COColorado Springs$45130$31K – $71K12800.53%
CODenver – Aurora – Broomfield$50910$29K – $74K66400.54%
COFort Collins – Loveland$44910$22K – $77K6000.45%
COGrand Junction$44850$24K – $60K3700.64%
COGreeley$45660$27K – $64K6200.78%
COPueblo$49290$32K – $72K2500.47%
CTBridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk$57670$38K – $84K10300.25%
CTDanbury$55030$36K – $72K3500.52%
CTHartford – West Hartford – East Hartford$55330$33K – $84K22400.40%
CTNew Haven$58960$41K – $108K6300.23%
CTNorwich – New London$55900$33K – $86K4900.38%
CTWaterbury$51340$37K – $59K2700.43%
DCWashington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)$54310$33K – $86K91900.39%
DEDover$49370$27K – $71K2000.35%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$57980$35K – $87K12900.40%
FLCape Coral – Fort Myers$32110$24K – $47K10600.52%
FLCrestview – Fort Walton Beach – Destin$47570$33K – $63K2200.31%
FLDeltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach$39480$29K – $58K6100.40%
FLFort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$38130$24K – $58K29200.41%
FLGainesville$37430$29K – $58K3700.31%
FLJacksonville$39170$28K – $57K29400.51%
FLLakeland – Winter Haven$36790$28K – $55K11600.61%
FLMiami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)$38420$26K – $62K28200.28%
FLNaples – Marco Island$36740$27K – $48K4500.39%
FLNorth Port – Bradenton – Sarasota$38970$24K – $69K9400.39%
FLOcala$34830$26K – $48K2900.33%
FLOrlando – Kissimmee – Sanford$36330$27K – $55K34300.34%
FLPalm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville$36560$24K – $71K8200.43%
FLPalm Coast$25720$21K – $34K600.33%
FLPanama City – Lynn Haven – Panama City Beach$37300$23K – $47K2700.39%
FLPensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent$40270$25K – $60K6200.41%
FLPort St. Lucie$38470$25K – $57K5900.48%
FLPunta Gorda$35030$31K – $46K1500.38%
FLSebastian – Vero Beach$38210$27K – $57K2200.48%
FLTallahassee$34750$24K – $47K3400.21%
FLTampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater$37000$25K – $53K44100.39%
FLWest Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)$41240$27K – $59K18800.37%
GAAlbany$40240$27K – $58K2300.38%
GAAthens – Clarke County$39010$21K – $48K1100.15%
GAAtlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta$44160$29K – $71K97200.43%
GAAugusta – Richmond County$40990$25K – $58K9000.45%
GABrunswick$36980$31K – $56K800.21%
GAColumbus$36620$27K – $54K3500.32%
GADalton$43540$31K – $58K</ter">$23K – $58K1800.26%
GAHinesville – Fort Stewart$45130$34K – $58K800.49%
GAMacon$42290$25K – $58K3900.42%
GARome$45900$32K – $74K800.23%
GASavannah$44550$28K – $71K5800.39%
GAValdosta$34320$26K – $46K3900.78%
GAWarner Robins$50210$33K – $66K1000.18%
HIHonolulu$69620$48K – $94K17800.41%
IAAmes$42710$29K – $61K3300.83%
IACedar Rapids$62330$35K – $74K9700.70%
IADavenport – Moline – Rock Island$63790$45K – $75K7800.44%
IADes Moines – West Des Moines$41750$31K – $68K16000.49%
IADubuque$48830$28K – $68K4400.78%
IAIowa City$47100$29K – $72K3100.37%
IASioux City$43460$28K – $58K2300.33%
IAWaterloo – Cedar Falls$48040$32K – $59K3600.41%
IDBoise City – Nampa$44130$27K – $60K900

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