If you have a mind for logic, a love of the basic tenets of science and enjoy working with your hands you’ll find no shortage of careers to pursue. In this day and age, when most professionals spend their time in a cubicle typing on a computer for eight to ten hours a day, those that don’t mind rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty are in high demand. Although the economic downturn certainly put a crimp in the game plans of developers and real estate moguls, all of the existing houses, apartments and office buildings in the country still need to be serviced. That’s where the electrician comes in. Here’s one career that you can count on for a steady wage and consistent work. But those opportunities won’t be handed to you. In order to obtain a position as an electrician you must earn a license. The requirements are different based on each city and state, but there are some standards you will follow. Here is a quick look at how to pick up your electrician’s license.
Every professional electrician starts out as an apprentice. If you want to be licensed you must go through an apprenticeship with a qualified company. There is no real undergraduate degree for electricians, and even the unlicensed workers learn on the job in this sort of environment. Look for companies that follow your state’s requirements with their apprentice program and apply. You’ll need to show a willingness to work hard and pay attention. But if you are committed and responsible you’ll find an opportunity.
These apprentice programs aren’t easy. You have to log more than 140 classroom hours and upwards of 2,000 hours of actual, hands-on work experience. Most people take a full four years to fulfill this apprenticeship, making it as tough as an undergraduate degree program. And in some cases it’s harder, as you’ll work a full-time daily schedule on the job and then take night classes a few times a week. Take full advantage of this opportunity. You are being paid to learn, which is quite a rare thing in the blue collar world.
If you’ve chosen your teacher well you will learn an awful lot, basically everything that will prepare you to earn your license. Ideally you will learn new practices in the classroom, and then apply them on the job. Electrical work is tricky, and can be quite dangerous if it isn’t handled by a professional. You’ll have the opportunity to go through this trial and error period with an experienced electrician by your side, instead of later on down the line with a client breathing down your neck.
Once you complete you apprenticeship it’s time to apply for the licensing exam. You’ll obviously have to log a passing grade in all of your classes, and get a recommendation from your supervisor. Fill out the application, pay the fee and schedule yourself for one of the upcoming licensing exams. Schedules and fees will vary by state, so check in with your region’s licensing board for any requirements. You have to earn at least a 75 on the test in order to get your license.
Some people spend years working as an electrician before getting their license. This is possible, although it may be tricky to find jobs and you could regularly get beat out for the best assignments. Corporate clients in general won’t work with you if you don’t have a license. The good news is you might be able to skip the apprenticeship in this case. Query the state licensing board, take some American TrainCo electrical courses if you need to finish up any requirements and then sign up for your test. You could turn your experience into a faster road to becoming licensed.