The time it takes to become a professional electrician can vary depending on some of the choices you make — like where you choose to get your training, what kind of electrician you want to be, and what your ultimate career goal is. To break this down, let’s look at some of the basics:
What Does an Electrician Do?
In general, electricians handle the electrical, lighting, and power systems in your home, offices, businesses, and more. They install wiring and equipment, inspect systems and circuit breakers, read blueprints and diagrams, and make sure everything in a building is following both the National Electric Code and any state regulations. Everything from communications to control is maintained and repaired by electricians.
What’s the Process for Becoming an Electrician?
In California, electricians have to start out with hands-on electrician training from a state-approved school. How long this training takes is different from school to school, but in many instances it can take less than a year to get your electrician diploma. At Summit College, the Electrician program provides hands-on training in wiring, power distribution, circuits, cabling, and green electricity in just 36 weeks.
How Do You Get Licensed as an Electrician?
Once you graduate from an accredited electrician program, your next step is working as an apprentice electrician in order to get qualified to sit for your electrician certification or licensure. Depending on the kind of electrician you want to work as, you’ll need to log a certain number of hours under the supervision of a class C-10 electrical contractor. In California, apprentice electricians need:
- General electrician: 8,000 hours (about 200 40-hour work weeks)
- Residential electrician 4,800 hours (about 120 40-hour work weeks)
- Fire/life/safety technician: 4,000 hours (about 100 40-hour work weeks)
- Voice data video technician: 4,000 hours (about 100 40-hour work weeks)
- Non-residential lighting technician: 2,000 hours (about 50 40-hour work weeks)
So if you add it all together, you’re looking at around 9 months of school, followed by 1-4 years of paid work as an apprentice electrician.
How Much Does an Apprentice Electrician Make?
Electrician wages and salary often depend on experience — the more you have, the higher your pay. Apprentice electricians general get paid by the hour, and according to Indeed.com, the average hourly wage for an apprentice electrician in California is around $21, plus any overtime bonuses you might get for clocking over 40 hours in a week. The average electrician logs anywhere from 1,800-2,080 hours in a year, which means the annual salary for an apprentice electrician is somewhere in the range of $37,800-43,600. And after you’ve completed your time as an apprentice, you’ll be ready to sit for your certification exam to become a journeyman electrician.
What Is a Journeyman Electrician?
A journeyman electrician is someone who is qualified to do many of the tasks electricians are needed for on a day-to-day basis, like installing, repairing, and inspecting wiring, circuitry, and control systems in residential, industrial, and commercial buildings.
Journeyman electricians can work independently on a job site, but they’re not licensed to handle the planning or design of entire electrical systems. They’re also not cleared to supervise other electricians or run an electrician business. To do that, you’ll need to get licensed as an electrical contractor, which you can do once you have at least a year of experience as a journeyman electrician.
If you’re ready to get started on the road to becoming an electrician, you can start today with quality, hands-on training from Summit College. Contact us today to talk to one of our advisors about your career goals.