If you’re mechanically inclined, detail-oriented, and enjoy solving problems, a career in electrical servicing may be an excellent fit for you. Field electricians provide an enormous service to their community and tackle residential, commercial, and industrial issues.
However, if you don’t know anyone doing the work you’re interested in, it can be difficult to imagine the steps you need to take to achieve your goal and become a professional electrician. Consider the following your guide to getting started on this fulfilling, lucrative career path.
Seek Out Training
Getting the proper training is essential to preparing you for the diverse activities you’ll be called upon to participate in as an electrician. Both technical schools and JATC AREA 1 offer paid training for a selection of interested candidates. This program selects candidates based on factors that vary by economy and location, and usually lasts 4 years.
Another option is to pursue training while serving in the U.S. armed forces. Most branches of the U.S. military offer paid training and benefits to anyone who enlists and wants to become an electrician.
Start Working ASAP
There’s nothing like on-the-job training to build experience and show employers and potential employers what you can do. Once you have trained for a year or more, you can usually become a helper, assigned to work with one or more journeyman electricians at a job site. Helpers are expected to have a basic knowledge of electrical safety and an understanding of how to operate hand tools, as well as electrical construction methods. If you are just starting your work as an apprentice, on-the-job experience will serve as your boot camp, where you will gain industry experience while supervised by a journeyman electrician.
Apprentices for larger companies often start out delivering necessary materials and tools to job sites, an activity that can help green workers gain familiarity with commonly-used materials at electrical sites. However, the ultimate goal is to move an apprentice into working on the actual job, where he or she will gain the most valuable experience.
Get Professionally Licensed
In order to work in areas with formal licensing procedures, you will need to obtain a license, particularly if you want to pursue a higher wage tier. Professional licensing requirements vary depending on where you live. To find out the specifics for your region and goals, contact your local code enforcement office. In many cases, you will be required to show a minimum of documented time spent working in your chosen trade before you are eligible for licensure, often up to 8,000 hours. Some licensing authorities will only credit up to 2,000 per year, with no credit for overtime hours.
When applying for licensure, you may be asked to provide tax information, pay stubs, technical school transcripts, accumulated during your time working as an apprentice or helper under a journeyman electrician.
Study, Study, Study (and take the test)
The National Electrical Code (NEC) is most often used for electrical code enforcement. Familiarize yourself with the codes for your area, whether it is the NEC or another system, in preparation for your formal exam. Often, licensing authorities offer a two-part examination, including a written test and a practical examination. The practical separates those with on-the-job experience from those with code-only familiarity. Depending on the rules for your area, you may be able to use the Code Book during the exam.
Work for Prairie Electric!
Prairie Electric is now seeking qualified workers to join our team. If you are a journeyman electrician licensed in Oregon or Washington State, we’d love to speak with you further. Our employees enjoy full medical and dental insurance for themselves and their families, as well as paid vacations, holidays, and a 401K plan. We even hand out popcorn on Wednesdays with your paycheck! Start a new, rewarding phase of your career with us today.