How Long Does It Take to Become an Electrician? – How long is electrician school?

Electricians are high in demand with a positive job outlook over the next decade. If you’re looking into starting a new career as an electrician, you could be working on electrical wiring within a few months. 

While a hands-on apprenticeship is the first step, you will need between 2-4 years to become an independent, licensed electrician. The length of time it takes depends on the state and license type.

This article will break down the steps to becoming an electrician and how long it takes, including the details on electrician school and licensing procedures. 

The Steps to Become an Electrician

Each state has different requirements for electricians. The following steps are seen in most areas, but be sure to investigate the rules specific to your municipality before starting your career as an electrician.

To become an electrician, you’ll need to:

  1. Finish high school or get your GED
  2. Begin a state-approved apprenticeship program (electrician school)
  3. Apply for your electrician’s license or certification, often called a journeyman electrician license
  4. Finish High School

While some states may allow you to begin an apprenticeship at 16, most require you have completed high school or a GED program. Passing specific math courses may be required by certain programs, although a general diploma will usually suffice. 

  1. Completing an Electrician Apprenticeship

Signing up for and completing an electrician apprenticeship program is perhaps the most important step to becoming an electrician. This is what most people refer to when they talk about “electrician school.” These programs combine hands-on work experience with classroom instruction to train you in all things electrical work. 

How Long Is Electrician School?

Electrician apprenticeship programs last between 3 and 4 years; however, some states allow you to become licensed with only 2 years of electrical work experience. If this is the case for your state, you may be able to qualify as a licensed electrician after 2 years of hands-on experience in your program. 

The aforementioned case is only found in a handful of states, so you’ll likely need to complete your entire apprenticeship program before getting your electrician’s license. Many licenses will only recognize 2,000 hours of work per year, which means overtime work hours may not count. Always visit your state’s licensing page for the most up-to-date information. 

Finding an Approved Apprenticeship

When choosing your electrician apprenticeship program, it’s vital to only consider state- or board-approved programs in your area. After an apprenticeship, you’ll want to become licensed to work as an independent electrician. The vast majority of states will only count your apprenticeship hours for licensing if your apprenticeship program is approved. 

You can find out if your program makes the cut by visiting the website of your state’s electrical licensing board or department. You can also Google “your state approved electrical apprenticeship programs,” but be sure to only click links that end in “.gov” for the most accurate information.

Apprentice Compensation

One of the best parts of apprenticeships is that you are compensated for your work. The average electrician apprentice in the U.S. makes around $19 per hour, plus overtime. 

As you work, you will be supervised by a licensed electrician who shows you the ins and outs of the trade. Your classroom hours will include theory and education on the National Electrical Code (NEC), which is the guiding source for all electrical work in the U.S. 

Registering as an Apprentice

Many states have apprenticeship registration, which gives you a certificate or license to work as an apprentice. You should register with your state, if applicable, as soon as you’re accepted into your apprenticeship program. This is also a surefire way to record all of your supervised work hours, which can later be used to apply for an electrician’s license. 

  1. Applying for Licensure

Once you finish your apprenticeship, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a journeyman electrician. Being a journeyman electrician allows you to repair, install, and maintain wiring and electrical systems in both residential and/or commercial spaces. This is the standard electrician’s license offered in most states.

The standard journeyman electrician’s license requires anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 hours (2 to 4 years) of experience. Once you meet this qualification, you’ll need to sit for the official Journeyman Electrician Exam. Each state uses different proctors, but PSI Exams or Prov are two of the most popular.

For those who want to reach higher levels of electrician licensing, such as specialty or master electricians, check out the information below.

How Long Does It Take to Become Licensed as an Electrician?

Becoming licensed as a journeyman electrician allows you to work independently with wiring and electrical systems. If you are aiming for your journeyman electrician’s license, some states will require you to be employed by a master electrician or electrical contractor.

For those who want to go further in their electrician careers, you may want to become a master electrician, specialty electrician, or electrical contractor yourself. These licensures require additional years of work experience. Below are the general timeframes needed to acquire each one.

  • Journeyman electrician licenses: 2-4 years (4,000-8,000 hours) of experience, most commonly 4 years (8,000 hours)
  • Master electrician licenses: 4 years (8,000 hours) of experience as a licensed journeyman, equaling a total of 6-8 years of experience in the field post-apprenticeship
  • Specialty electrician licenses: These licenses can be for journeyman or master electricians, and correspond with the job experience requirements for each.
  • Electrical contractor licenses: These requirements vary greatly by state. Many electrical contractor licenses require you to be a master electrician, while some will not. 

In Summary

All in all, you generally need at least 4 years of training to become an electrician in the U.S. 

Electricians begin working in the electrical trade as paid apprentices. The standard 4-year apprenticeship program will prepare many to become licensed journeyman electricians, which is the basic licensing level for an independent electrician.

After these four years, you may want to gain additional experience to apply for a master electrician, specialty, or electrical contractor license. 

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