Have you found yourself Googling ‘electrician apprenticeship’ in the hope you’ll find one article which tells you everything you need to know about:
- How to become an apprentice electrician
- Where to find electrician apprentice jobs
- The average apprentice electrician salary
- Electrician apprenticeship training
Well, you’re in luck.
This guide will tell you everything about getting your electrician apprentice license in the US.
Note: You may read this guide and decide that becoming an apprentice electrician isn’t for you. We’re going to tell you how it is. Why? So you’re fully clued up before you invest any time or money into getting your electrician apprentice license. Think of it this way: you’re better off spending 10 minutes reading this now and deciding it’s not the right fit than a year down the line—are we right?
So the question is: if you’re considering becoming an electrician apprenticeship, where do you start?
Right here. Let’s get started.
Electrician Apprenticeships: The Basics
What is an Electrician Apprenticeship?
In most skilled trades, you need to serve your time as an apprentice before you can become fully qualified. When it comes to electrician apprenticeships, it’s no different.
Under the watchful eye and guidance of a Journeyman or Master Electrician, you’ll learn the skills of the trade on the job—and get paid for doing it.
Why Do You Need to Do an Electrician Apprenticeship Program?
Theory has its place (as we’ll discuss later when we look at electrician school), but there’s no substitute for real life, practical experience.
Imagine this: It’s 4am in the middle of winter and your power cuts out. Who do you want the power company to send out to help you? Someone who has done the job a hundred times before, or someone who has just read about the job in books?
By completing an apprenticeship, you’re showing potential employers that you are dedicated to the job, possess the ability to do it, and have mastered the basics of the trade.
Plus, legally, you have to do it if you want to become a fully qualified electrician.
What Responsibilities Do Electrician Apprentices Have?
You’ll start by being an extra pair of hands on site, similar to a laborer. You’ll be expected to turn up on time, do as you’re told, and not complain about anything. Your typical duties will include passing tools to the journeyman/master and cleaning and tidying. While you’re doing this, you’ll be expected to learn as much as possible—soaking up everything you see and hear.
If you show some initiative, you’ll build up some trust with your mentor. Plus, you’ll be studying at your electrician school, so before long, you’ll be asked to help with harder jobs like repairing, testing, and installing electrical circuits (amongst other things).
How Does an Electrician Apprenticeship Help You Become a Qualified Electrician?
Your road from apprentice electrician to Master Electrician comes in three stages:
- Electrician Apprentice
You’ll spend 4-5 years gaining practical experience on the job with your mentor, plus several hundred hours classroom experience.
After completing your apprenticeship and passing the Electrical Journeyman Exam, you’ll have the title ‘Journeyman’ and will be fully qualified.
- Master Electrician
After serving two years as a Journeyman and passing the Master Electrician Exam, you’ll become a Master Electrician.
There are additional certifications you can attain if you’re interested in ‘freelancing’ as an electrician, too. Plus, there are numerous specialist jobs becoming an electrician can lead to. Some of which are tipped to be 5 fastest growing jobs in energy.
Note: you may find yourself picking things up quickly during your apprenticeship, especially if you show initiative and a get-up-and-go attitude like we’ve discussed. But before you go helping friends and family out for some cash on the side, you should know it’s illegal in all states to carry out any electrical work when not under the supervision of your mentor.
Is an Electrician Apprenticeship Right for You?
Like any job, there’s a lot to consider before you decide if becoming an apprentice electrician is right for you.
That’s why we’re going to break down everything for you in this next section. So read the rest of this article, do your research and we’re sure you’ll easily make up your mind.
So You Want to Become an Apprentice Electrician? Consider These Things First:
Electrician Apprentice Working Hours
If you’ve not had a job in a skilled trade before, you may be unfamiliar with the working hours. In short, forget the 9-5. Early mornings are the norm (expect to get out of bed before 6am). On average (excluding overtime), you can still expect to work a 40-hour week like most jobs—so the early start means you’d finish earlier.
“6am – 3pm sounds great! That’ll give me all afternoon to relax!” you say? Well, hold on just a second. Your working day hours may vary depending on where you live and if your mentor is a Union Contractor or Non-union Shop. We’ll break down what this means in more detail soon, but before that, you need to realize something: after working your day job as an apprentice electrician, you’ll have homework to do.
Yes, homework. Because in addition to getting the hands-on, practical experience of being an electrician, you need to learn the science and math to back it up, too.
Yep, there is such a thing. Also known as technical colleges or trade schools, you’ll need to complete several hundred hours of formal electrician education whilst working your day job as an apprentice electrician.
In fact, it’s not a bad idea to take some classes at a trade school before you apply for your apprenticeship. Why? It shows initiative and puts you ahead of the competition. We’ll look at more tips for succeeding in your application in the next section.
Apprentice Electrician Salary
“Show me the money!” … Or not. Electrician apprentice jobs are entry-level positions, so it’s fair to accept that you’ll receive entry-level pay.
Look at it this way: if you went to college, you’d pay the school to learn. By becoming an apprentice electrician, you’re being paid to learn. Plus, it’s not forever. It’s four years (to be exact).
As a ballpark figure, you’re looking at a starting salary of between $10 and $20 dollars an hour, which equates to $20,000 to $40,000 a year. Apprentice electrician salary figures vary from state to state, with the highest being in New York, Dallas and Denver:
Once you qualify as a Journeyman, you can expect your hourly rate to increase to $20-$30, while Masters earn $30-$45+.
Applying for Electrician Apprenticeship Jobs
Let’s take stock for a moment. Now you’re clued up on what an electrician apprenticeship is, why you need it in order to be an electrician, what your working day will look like, how much you can expect to get paid, and what hours you’ll be working.
By now you should have a better understanding of whether being an apprentice electrician is right for you, so next we’ll look at how you actually become one.
What Do You Need to Become an Apprentice Electrician?
Before being accepted into an electrician apprenticeship program, there are a few things you’ll need before you apply.
A good attitude and a high school diploma are essential, while a basic knowledge of electric work is a bonus. To succeed as an electrician apprentice, you’ll need to show you’re interested in the bigger picture. Rather than waiting around to be told what to do, you’ll be expected to show initiative. If you do this as part of your application before you start your electrician apprentice training, you’ll be off to a good start.
On a more literal level, you’ll need basic tools and your own protective clothing. While your mentor may let you loan the equipment for a short time, you’ll need your own gear before too long. Why not show you’re serious about the job and invest in your new career from the off? It’ll help you get a good start and will also make you more appealing to potential employers when you’re applying for electrician apprenticeship jobs near you.
Does State Law Affect Apprentice Electrician Jobs?
Like most laws in the US, the exact certifications and fine details of your electrician apprentice license will vary from state to state.
For example, in Arizona there is no statewide code and you won’t receive any official license until you get to the Journeyman stage. In Arkansas, you need an electrician apprentice license with the DOL, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, and the Arkansas DOL through the Arkansas Department of Labor & Licensing. In Texas, you must have 8000 hours of on-the-job experience to be certified as a Journeyman, whereas in South Carolina the requirements vary on a local level.
Rather than go into the details of all US states here, use this guide. Input your ZIP code and it’ll tell you exactly what you need to know about electrician apprentice training law for the state where you want to live and work.
Where Do You Find Electrician Apprentice Jobs?
There are many ways to find electrician apprentice jobs near you. Here are the best six ways:
1. Local Job Boards
Where better to find jobs close to home than local job boards? Whether it’s in your local newspaper, on a wall at your local supermarket, or an online job board on Facebook or Gumtree, starting local is never a bad bet. Why? It’ll be easier to do your due diligence on any electricians offering an electrician apprenticeship.
2. United States Department of Labor
As part of the Registered Apprenticeship Program, employers sign up to take on apprentices in a range of different industry types. Search by occupations and industry here.
The IEC have a dedicated apprenticeship scheme for budding electrician apprentices to begin their electrical careers. Start here to read about training opportunities, finding a school near you, and careers.
4. National Electrical Contractors Association & International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
The IBEW & NECA are partners for national and local joint apprenticeship training committees and centers (JATC). To find a local JATC, check out the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Centre website.
5. Online Jobsites
Whether it’s Jobserve, or Indeed, there are numerous online jobsites where electricians will advertise apprentice electrician jobs.
Once you’re qualified, check back in with Workrise. We’re building the energy industry’s largest online marketplace to connect contractors with work.
Union Contractors and Non-Union Shops: Which One is Best for Your Electrician Apprenticeship?
You may hear the term ‘union contractor’ and ‘non-union shop’ when looking for an electrician apprenticeship. Deciding which route to go down can be confusing for budding apprentice electricians, so here’s a summary:
Union Contractor refers to any electrician who is a member of a local electrical union. The IBEW governs all local unions and is part of the AFL-CIO. Getting an apprenticeship through the union will involve an application process, and by becoming an apprentice through them, you’d become a member. The IBEW makes sure their workforce is trained, experienced and properly vetted. Union salaries have been negotiated by union representatives. This route can be more difficult.
A non-shop electrician is more like a conventional electrician, and you’d expect to apply in the regular way: answering a job advert and going for an interview. Non-shop salaries depend on how much the electrician can afford to pay you.
For a full breakdown on the pros and differences of each route, check out this comprehensive guide from the Electrician School.
The Importance of Picking Your Mentor
While it’s true that you’ll end up applying for a lot of electrician apprenticeship jobs, you should still be selective with who you work with.
Think of it this way: you’ve got to spend 40 hours a week for at least 4 years with this person, so they need to be trustworthy, reliable, and easy to work with.
Check their credibility on sites like Yelp, Angi, Rated People, Porch, Google, and Facebook. According to Survicate, 34% of customers are more likely to leave a bad review after a poor experience, compared to 28% who are likely to share a good one, so bear that in mind. However, they should still have more positive than negative reviews.
Applying for Apprentice Electrician Jobs: How to Succeed
If you’ve got this far, we’re going to assume you’ve decided being an apprentice electrician is you. Congrats! To summarize what you’ve learned so far: now you know what an electrician apprenticeship is all about, why you need to complete one, and where you can find one.
Now we’re going to look at how you get one. And by that, we mean how to succeed in your application.
Electrician apprentice jobs can be highly competitive, so you’ve got to find a way to differentiate yourself from the other applicants. But how?
Do Your Research
You’re reading this article right now, so that’s a great start. Get as clued up as possible before approaching any job adverts so you’re prepared to answer any questions your potential employer may have.
Make a Great First Impression
This follows on from point one, but you can’t underestimate the importance of making a good first impression. A firm handshake, confident introduction, and clean presentation all make a difference.
Get Ahead of the Competition
Talk about any trade school experience you’ve got (if you don’t have any, we recommend you get some) and what makes you different from the competition.
Think About What You’d be Looking for if You Were Hiring
You’d want to see dedication, a get-up-and-go attitude, and competency in the key skills of the job, wouldn’t you? So show that.
What to Do Right Now: Action Points
Now we’ve looked at all the main things all electrician’s apprentices need to know. So what do you do next?
Learn to Drive
What’s that got to do with electrician apprenticeships you ask? Quite a lot. As a tradesman, it’s pretty important that you hold a valid license. Plus, you need a driving license to get certified as a Journeyman.
Find and Enroll in a Trade School
We’ve discussed the importance of trade schools and how they’ll not only give you a taste of what being an apprentice electrician will be all about but will also give you an edge over the competition when applying for your role.
Read Back Over This Article
Make a list of action points and tick off everything you need to do to join the other electrician apprentices. Before long, you’ll be on your way to Master Electrician status!
Have We Missed Anything?
Leave a comment if you have any questions about electrician apprenticeships, and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.
Good luck with the process.