Becoming an Electrician

It is pretty amazing to think about how readily available electricity has become and all of the incredible devices and innovations it powers. Of course, it takes a certain kind of wizard to make the electrical magic happen. Those wizards are electricians.

The crux of an electrician’s job is making sure electricity properly gets from the power source to where it’s needed, whether it’s throughout a building, outside or elsewhere. Electricians are responsible for installing the electrical wires, circuitry and fixtures needed to provide electricity. Another key component of an electrician’s job is maintaining these components after they are installed.

Customer service is also a crucial part of an electrician’s job. They need to be able to explain to their customers what they are doing in addition to addressing their questions and concerns. Electricians who are proficient in this aspect of the job are more frequently sought out.

Many electricians specialize in a specific industry of electrical work. Examples of such specializations include the following:

  • Voice data video technician
  • Fire, life and safety technician
  • Residential electrician
  • Non-residential lighting technician

Each specialization typically requires additional technical training and work experience, depending on the state in which the electrician or apprentice works.

Because electricity is needed in most places across the United States, electricians have the benefit of being able to find work, and subsequently live, almost anywhere.

As the United States, and the world, continues to become increasingly dependent on equipment that requires electricity, the places people inhabit will require more and more wiring. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for electricians to increase 14 percent by 2024, relative to 2014, this is much faster than the average for all occupations.

The majority of professional electricians work in the electrical and other wiring installation contractors industry. This means they agree on a contract for any given job before they complete it, oftentimes finding work with a contracting agency. Around 10 percent of electricians are self-employed.

The installation and maintenance of electrical equipment in residential and commercial buildings is just one of the factors to which the increase in electrician demand is attributed to. Electricians are also needed for the installation and maintenance of alternative power sources, such as wind turbines and solar panels, which are becoming increasingly prevalent.

According to the BLS, the age of electricians will also contribute to the projected increase in demand for the skilled trade. As many electricians in the workforce reach, and continue to reach, retirement age, there will be a demand for electricians to take their places.

Electricians who work in factories typically have the most stable employment among the places where they are employed. The BLS also suggests that job prospects are most promising for electricians who are adept at performing a plethora of different tasks, as opposed to those who are not.

In addition to having job prospects that are as bright as bulbs powered by their labor, electricians also earn better money than many other jobs. Per the BLS, electricians made a median annual salary of $51,880 as of May 2015. This median is more than $15,000 higher than the average median of all total occupations.

Prior to becoming a professional electrician, aspiring electricians are required to complete apprenticeships to learn the trade. Apprentice salaries are typically about half of what fully trained electricians earn. They are usually rewarded with pay increases as they learn more skills on the job.

As an electrician, you have the chance to join a workforce of greater than 628,000 electricians across the United States. Given the world’s dependence on electricity, the important services electricians offer will sustain a demand for workers in the skilled trade for quite some time.

Now that you have some background information about electricians, you might be wondering how you can become one. You happen to be in luck, as we will proceed to outline the steps one must take to enter the electrician workforce.

Electrician Training

The most effective way to begin your quest to becoming an electrician is to enroll in a training program at a local community college or trade school. While it is not required, a trade school electrician education is the easiest way to gain a solid foundation of electrical skills and knowledge prior to pursuing an apprenticeship.   

During training programs, students typically learn the textbook basics of the electrician trade from experienced professionals so that they can confidently fulfill an apprenticeship. Many electrician training program curricula feature skills and knowledge relevant to the trade such as:

  • Electrical Theory
  • Green Electricity
  • National Electrical Code Application
  • Residential Installation
  • AC and DC Motors and Machines

Many electrician training programs can be completed in less than two years, and many schools accommodate students who have busy schedules by offering both day and night class options.


Once you complete your chosen community college or trade school electrician training program, you will be ready to gain some real-world experience as an apprentice. An apprenticeship is paid on-the-job training that aspiring electricians must complete before they are able to perform full electrician services on their own.

Apprenticeships typically last four to five years, which allows training program graduates to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the skilled trade. Apprentices also gain vital experience that cannot necessarily be acquired within the confines of a classroom.

In your apprenticeship, you will work “under the supervision of a qualified journeyman electrician” to learn and hone the skills needed to be an electrician. During your apprenticeship, you will be required to fulfill a specific number of on-the-job working hours, as well as technical training hours. Apprentices usually receive raises in pay as they continue to learn and master new skills.   

According to the guidelines established by the BLS, apprentice electricians must complete “at least 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 of paid on-the-job training” during each year of their apprenticeship. Classroom hours from a technical college can sometimes be counted toward an apprentice’s 144 hours, which is one of the perks of enrolling in a trade school program.

After you successfully complete your multi-year apprenticeship, you may be required to pass a licensure exam. The licensure and educational requirements vary from state to state. Information regarding such requirements can be found by contacting the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

Electrify your career with a quality education

Now that you know how to embark on your journey toward becoming a professional electrician, all that is left for you to do is to enroll at a school with a quality electrician program that meets your needs.

Coyne College is one of Chicago’s top skilled trade education institutions and is proud to offer two programs for aspiring electrical workers: electrical construction and planning and electrical construction and maintenance.

Coyne College offers day and night classes for both programs to accommodate your busy schedule. Both programs are offered at the Coyne College campus, located in the heart of the Chicago Loop at the intersection of State and Madison Streets.

The course content of the electrical construction and planning program’s curriculum is more in-depth than that of the electrical construction and maintenance program and can be completed in as few as 78 weeks. The electrical construction and maintenance program, on the other hand, also prepares you to enter the field, but can be finished in 42 to 56 weeks, depending on whether you opt to take day or night classes.

As a student in either of Coyne College’s electrical programs, you will be submerged in classes such as:

  • Electrical and Electronic Principles
  • Electrical Test and Equipment Safety
  • Electrical Construction – Residential
  • Electrical Theory and Applications
  • And more!

You will learn the ins and outs of the electrician trade in a setting that focuses on your individual success and be taught by Coyne’s highly knowledgeable instructors, who have years of real-world experience under their belts.

Hands-on learning is a significant part of the program, and understandably so, but it is also mixed with theoretical components so students learn why they are doing what they are doing.

Following the completion of your Associate’s degree or diploma program, you will be ready to enter the electrical workers’ field as an apprentice. As mentioned previously, apprenticeships usually last four to five years.

Worried about finding an apprenticeship that will suit you? Don’t sweat it. Coyne College offers an array of career services and job placement help for its students, including apprenticeships.

With more than 110 years of experience in helping aspiring electricians realize their dreams, Coyne College has a well-developed network of resources to help students land jobs at the conclusion of their studies.  

Coyne College also offers its students career assistance, including mock interviews, externships and resume help. These resources can help students secure jobs after completing the program.

Students who enroll at Coyne College receive a well-rounded, first-rate education that provides them with the tools to succeed in the workforce as a professional electrician.

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