If you want to become an electrician, your first step in your career will be an apprenticeship.
During this period, you’ll be able to get a bunch of required knowledge and skills in order to gain some proficiency and work in the sphere you are interested in.
Electricians are very skillful professionals that develop their skills under the supervision of real masters of the trade.
During many years apprenticeship was an essential part of education and training for electricians as it is the most effective and suitable method.
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Electrician Apprenticeship: What Is It?
Nowadays, apprenticeship is well-structured and strictly regulated.
Usually, it involves all-inclusive and consisting training that includes 500-1000 hours of classroom and 8000-10000 hours of working experience.
In total, it lasts for about 4-5 years.
In most cases, apprenticeship includes a required amount of classroom training however, you can enroll in a diploma or associate degree program beforehand.
In such a way you’ll be able to meet the requirements of classroom training before applying for an apprenticeship.
Speaking of the apprenticeship advantages, they are:
- ability to earn money while learning and with more training, pay increases;
- ability to work under the supervision and guidance of qualified professional electricians so the quality of the education is exceptional;
- employment offers from program sponsors after training completion.
Applying for an electrician apprenticeship, you need to remember that it can be pretty competitive admission.
You should be able to meet a whole bunch of requirements.
To be able to apply for it, you should:
Admission into an electrician apprenticeship can be competitive, so be prepared to meet a number of strict requirements:
- be at least 18 years old;
- have a high-school diploma or a GED certification;
- hold a valid driver’s license and have reliable transportation;
- pass a physical examination and drug screen;
- pass a basic aptitude test;
- sit for a personal interview.
There are two types of electrical apprenticeship sponsors – union and non-union.
Both of them should follow a number of state regulations.
The most known training program is the Electrical Training ALLIANCE and it is union.
This program was started by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) about 70 years ago.
Among other organizations and employers that offer apprenticeship programs, there are:
- Community colleges and vocational/trade schools;
- Private employers;
- Apprenticeship training centers;
- S. military.
ALLIANCE, as well as other trade/vocational schools, have their own classroom component that is mainly provided via online.
At the same time, private employers require community colleges or online course providers assistance to meet classroom training requirements.
If you want to know about approved apprenticeship sponsors, make sure to check info at your local licensing board.
Also, you can use sites listed below to get info about apprenticeships available in your area:
- Electrical Training ALLIANCE;
- Apprenticeship USA.
What is an Electrical Apprentice?
Making an agreement with an apprenticeship sponsor, you have an opportunity to work under the supervision of a qualified licensed electrician so you can gain a bunch of required skills.
In fact, your sponsor can be considered as your educator, employer, and mentor.
As soon as you apply for an electrician apprenticeship, you enroll in a blend of classroom education and on-the-job training.
Of course, your schedule significantly depends on the program you are applying for but most programs contain such courses as:
- Communication and testing equipment;
- Electrical theory;
- High-voltage distribution;
- Industrial controls;
- Lighting and power distribution;
- National Electric Code.
Also, applying for an apprenticeship, you’ll likely learn about fire alarm systems, instrumentation, computers, welding, as well as job site management and supervision.
Moreover, such aspects as first aid, CPR, and OSHA are included in most training programs.
Usually, apprenticeship training programs include such classes as:
- Blueprint Reading Fundamentals;
- Contactors, Starters, and Solenoids;
- First Aid and CPR;
- Grounding, Bonding, and Overcurrent Protection;
- Industrial and Commercial Wiring;
- Inductance and Transformer Theory;
- Low-Voltage Systems;
- Motors and Transformers;
- Maintenance and Troubleshooting of Fire Alarm Systems;
- Outlets, Appliances, Lighting, and Heating;
- Power Distribution Systems;
- Remote Control Systems;
- Solid State Electronic Control Devices.
In order to move through your apprenticeship, you’ll be obliged to complete all your tests successfully.
After successful completion of all stages of your apprenticeship, you’ll be able to sit for your final exam.
Usually, it is held by a local licensing board.
Job Duties of Electrical Apprentices
As an electrical apprentice, you can expect that the number of your duties and responsibilities will increase with time.
Usually, during the first couple of months, electrical apprentices only haul some equipment and observe the work of experienced electricians.
After gaining some experience and knowledge, they can connect wires, install light fixtures, circuit breakers and fuse boxes, as well as running wires and even repair already installed electrical devices.
The list of electrical apprentices responsibilities includes such points as:
- Correcting connections and wiring on equipment controls;
- Installing, repairing, and replacing transformers, motors, AC/DC motors and drives, starters, relays, and hydraulic and gas electrical controls;
- Installing, repairing, or replacing electrical wiring, receptacles, switch boxes, conduits, lighting, and alternative electrical parts;
- Installing electrical circuits, including panels, conduit, switches, and protecting devices;
- Performing preventive maintenance and testing of electrical systems, including power distribution equipment;
- Reading and interpreting drawings, blueprints, schematics, and electric code specifications for residential and commercial electrical equipment installations;
- Testing electrical equipment and parts for continuity, voltage, current, and resistance.
As an electrical apprentice, you need to:
- have an understanding of terms, language;
- have skills associated with job tools and duties;
- produce a quantity and quality of work according to employer standards;
- produce work that meets or exceeds the National Electrical Code;
- maintain equipment and tools in proper working order;
- comply with all company/employer policies and industry and safety standards and procedures focusing on:
Limitations of an Electrical Apprentice
Working as an electrical apprentice, you need to know what your role will be significantly limited by your current knowledge, skills, and experience.
Also, it is some conditions set by your local regulatory board that influences roles you can perform as an electrical apprentice.
In some states, supervision is described as direct oversight of all tasks.
At the same time, there are states that identify supervision as a review of completed tasks.
However, in any case, there should be a licensed journeyman or master electrician at your working site.