If you get energized by the thought of installing and repairing electrical infrastructure and handling live wires, electrical maintenance may just be your calling. Setting forth and attempting to rewire some circuits or installing your first home electrical system yourself is probably a bad idea. Finding the appropriate, reliable resources to learning the basics of electrical maintenance is the first and most important step to being ready to install and maintain electrical infrastructure safely.
What is an Electrician?
There is a difference between an electrician and an electrical contractor. An electrician is an individual tradesperson whereas an electrical contractor works for company that retains electricians. The difference is in their roles as individual service providers or employees of specific businesses. Electricians design, install, and maintain electrical systems. This includes wiring and troubleshooting problems in wiring and electrical functions.
Electrical contractors work in 4 main areas: industrial wiring, light industrial wiring, residential, and commercial. Different electricians specialize in different areas of electrical systems. Some deal exclusively in wiring buildings–commercial and residential. Others repair and solve wiring problems. No matter the specialization, electricians are subject to extensive training, licensing, and safety regulations.
Becoming an Electrician
Electrician training begins in apprenticeship programs and continues through thousands of job hours and state, city or county licensing. Every state has different requirements for electrician qualification and the kind of jobs they are allowed to do. In general, working as an apprentice under a Journeyman and Master Electrician for 3-5 years is the first stage. Taking courses in electrical theory, blueprint reading, mathematics, and electrical building codes is part of the apprenticeship.
Continuous on site job training, classroom coursework, and rigorous exams are all part of becoming an electrician. Doing some online research in your state can provide an idea of specific requirements and programs for becoming an electrician apprentice. There are many trade schools and private programs that offer coursework and training sequences in installing and maintaining electrical systems. This credit can usually be applied to a 4 year apprenticeship program.
After completing the apprenticeship program, electricians are considered journey workers who can work independently. To become a Master Electrician, continued coursework, licensing, and exams are necessary. To find out specific state licensing requirements, go to the state licensing agency.
Resources for Electrical Maintenance Training
Like most things in life, word of mouth is one of the best resources. Since this is not always possible, however, finding additional resources for electrical maintenance training may be the only option. There is a lot of information on training programs and apprenticeships for electricians online. Conducting a quick search for electricians and electrician apprenticeships will be the best place to start if you don’t already have a contact in the profession.
The basics of this process include applying for an apprenticeship position through the National Electrical Contractors Association and beginning the course. After completing the classroom hours and on the job training hours requirement, you can be eligible to take a state licensing exam. Finally, upon licensing you can apply to work with contractors in construction, for an electrical company, or start a new business.
By Ben Vaughn
Ben Vaughn writes regularly on Utah electricians, electrician apprenticeships, and why careers harnessing electricity are the future.