How to Become an Electrician

Electricians must have keen eyesight, good physical endurance and be able to read complex blueprints and other technical documents. To start, earn your high school diploma or get a GED certificate. Then complete a vocational program at a trade school or community college or enter an apprenticeship program.


Register as an apprentice or trainee (if required by your state). Complete a four- or five-year apprenticeship under the supervision of a master electrician or journeyperson.

Becoming an electrician requires more than just hands-on training. It takes years of studying and working to become licensed, so you need a certain amount of formal education in order to start the career. Many vocational schools, trade school programs and apprenticeships combine both on-the-job experience and classroom instruction to prepare you for the job. Others provide a more structured introduction to the profession, such as those offered by technical institutes and career colleges. In order to start any of these, you’ll need a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Adults who have not yet earned a diploma can often earn one online in a short period of time.

After graduating from high school, you can begin looking for an electrical apprenticeship program. Some union-sanctioned programs are available through the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees, while others are offered by non-union trade organizations, electrical contractors and community colleges. Each program offers different options for becoming a special electrician (limited to work within specific building projects) or a master electrician (licensed to bid on projects and work in any residential or commercial setting).

Once you find an apprenticeship, your education begins. Depending on the program, it may take anywhere from four to five years to complete. During this time, you’ll be trained and mentored by a journeyman or master electrician, while being paid an hourly wage. Some states allow a portion of the apprenticeship hours to count toward classroom hours for your license.

During this time, it’s important to pay close attention to subjects such as algebra and physics. These will come in handy later on, as you learn how to measure wire lengths and understand the basics of circuitry and mathematics. English and shop classes are also helpful, as they’ll teach you how to read blueprints and other documentation.

Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship and gained sufficient on-the-job experience, you’ll need to take state exams. These vary by state, but typically cover topics such as the National Electric Code and basic safety protocols. Upon passing these exams, you’ll be eligible to apply for your state’s electrician license.

Trade School

Whether you’re starting your electrician career right out of high school or switching careers later in life, getting into a vocational school is an important first step. The prerequisites vary, but most electrician training programs require a high school diploma and some type of apprenticeship.

Vocational schools are typically specialized in specific industries, such as plumbing or electrical work, and offer classroom courses that prepare you to take industry exams and gain on-the-job experience. The curriculum will include topics like blueprint reading, residential wiring and AC circuitry. Many trade schools will also have internship programs that put students out in the field, allowing them to complete their education and earn full-time employment as an apprentice or entry-level electrician.

You can find local vocational schools through independent electrician associations, such as the Independent Electrical Contractors or Associated Builders and Contractors. Some schools will partner with unions like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committees to help you find an apprenticeship opportunity. An apprenticeship is the most crucial component to becoming a licensed electrician. These programs combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction and mentorship from a master electrician. Most apprenticeships last four years and cover 10,000 hours of on-the-job experience.

Once you’ve completed your on-the-job training, it’s time to apply for a license. Individual state requirements will vary, but you’ll likely be required to pass a written and hands-on exam. You may also be required to attend seminars or classes addressing updates to the National Electric Code.

In addition to meeting your state’s licensing requirements, you’ll need to get insurance for your business. It requires general liability, workers’ compensation and personal injury protection insurance for all electricians. It’s a good idea to shop around and compare prices before choosing an insurer. You can use a free online tool to compare quotes from top-rated providers. This tool will give you a quote for your exact location and company size, so you’ll be sure to get the best rate possible.


As an apprentice, you learn on the job. You work with a master electrician who will teach you the skills and trade knowledge of the electrical field. An apprenticeship typically takes four to five years, and you are paid for your time. It is a highly competitive process and only the best candidates will be accepted into a program.

Obtaining a high school diploma is a minimum requirement for most apprenticeship programs. A GED certificate will also do, but most programs require some level of post-secondary education, such as a trade school. The trade school coursework will provide you with a foundation of knowledge in areas such as electrical theory, wiring techniques, safety practices and the national electrical code.

Apprenticeship programs are hosted by unions, employers or independent apprenticeship organizations. Some sponsors develop their own training, partnering with career schools or community colleges to provide related technical instruction. Sponsors register their programs with the Department of Labor or their state apprenticeship agency. If you are looking to become an apprentice, it is important that you do your research. Search for opportunities using the Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship Finder tool. You can also filter by location, occupation or company name and use keyword search tools to find programs that suit your interests.

Once you have found a program to apply for, it is recommended that you contact the sponsor directly to ensure that you meet any prerequisites such as an interview, test scores or some coursework. This will help you determine whether the program is a good fit for you and will be able to support your goals in becoming an electrician.

You can also consider applying to an electrical staffing agency. These agencies specialize in placing electricians and other skilled trades workers with their clients. They have the networks, expertise and decades of experience to help you get started in this promising career.

It is important to make sure that you take the time to talk to others in the industry, shadow them and do your research to ensure that this is the right career for you. If it is, then the next step is to decide how you want to receive your apprenticeship training. You can choose to do it through a non-union contractor or with a union such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).


If you’re considering a career in electricity, it may be best to pursue formal training as soon as possible. Depending on your state or local municipality, you may need to become licensed in order to perform work as an electrician. This process involves passing an exam that tests your knowledge of the National Electric Code, electrical concepts and safety practices. You will also need to provide proof that you have completed a certain amount of classroom instruction and practical training under the supervision of a licensed journeyperson or master electrician.

Once you’ve completed the training requirements set by your state, it is time to take the written and practical exams. You will be notified of your results within three to four weeks.

Becoming a licensed electrician takes hard work and commitment, but it is very possible to attain your goal in a reasonable period of time. It’s not uncommon for people to start their apprenticeship right after high school, although some people choose to start later in life as a second career change. The key is to be dedicated and remain focused, because as you gain experience and learn new skills, you will increase your earning potential and feel more confident in your abilities.

Many experienced electricians will go on to become master electricians, and this is a path that offers even more earning potential. However, it is important to understand that the journey to becoming a master electrician is a long one. It may take years of on-the-job experience under the tutelage of a master electrician before you’re ready to begin your own electrical contracting business.

In addition to your education and training, you must carry professional liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance to protect yourself and your clients. Additionally, you should have a Nextdoor Business Page to connect with your community and promote your services. This is a great way to get the word out about your work and grow your career. You can also find out more about local regulations and codes by checking in with the city or town where you plan to do work.