Apprentice Electrician: Job Description and Education Requirements
Apprentice electricians work under the supervision of a licensed electrician to install or repair various electrical systems. Read on to learn more about this entry-level position and the education needed to get started.
An apprentice electrician is an entry-level electrician enrolled in an apprenticeship program to learn the tools and skills necessary to becoming a certified electrician. As an apprentice, an electrician will receive a combination of classroom education and paid on-the-job experience. Skills that are typically covered in these programs include how to design, install and repair commercial or residential electrical systems, as well as how to install and maintain data-telecommunications wiring.
According to the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (NJATC) there are four main apprenticeship tracts for interested future electricians, each of which specialize in a part of the process of conducting electricity from sources that generate power to local areas of need (www.njatc.org). The NJACTS tracts include outside linemen, inside wiremen, VDV or low-voltage data-telecommunications technicians and residential wiremen. Apprentice electricians work under the observation of a master electrician or journeyman, building up basic skills, gaining additional tasks and responsibilities as they improve.
In order to qualify for an apprenticeship, aspiring electricians need to have completed a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Apprenticeship programs are offered through a number of technical or community colleges, organizations and unions. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) together sponsor programs of apprenticeship across the United States through the NJATC. These programs usually last four years and involve classroom education on mathematics, electrical code and theory, interpreting blueprints and principals of electrical installation, as well as specialized training depending on what tract of apprenticeship is chosen.
After completing 8,000 hours of apprenticeship work and graduating from an apprenticeship program, entry-level technicians are usually required to become licensed by their state. State requirements vary, but typically include a combination of education, experience and knowledge of state electrical codes.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In 2012, electricians earned an annual median salary of $49,840, or $23.96 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Apprentices usually earn from 30%-50% of the full salary, until they've gained more skills, the BLS stated in 2010. From 2010-2020, the BLS projected 23% job growth for electricians.
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