Man performing electrical work on a job siteWorking as an electrician is a rewarding career in which you possess a specialized set of skills and knowledge. Without electricians, the lights would not turn on, the internet wouldn’t exist and life would be much different. The work that we do truly makes a difference in the world. Incidentally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that employment opportunities for electricians will grow by 14 percent between the years 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than average. As you explore your electrical career options, don’t forego the opportunity to complete an electrical apprenticeship program. Such programs introduce you to the latest techniques and software programs, making your talents even more in-demand.

Electrical Apprenticeship Program Overview

Many aspiring electricians complete training at a technical school in which they learn about safety practices, circuitry and electrical basics. Graduates receive credits toward an apprenticeship program, which some states require for licensure, to join a union or become a journey worker.

Alternatively, you may enter an apprenticeship program right away if you meet the qualifications. These programs take three to five years to complete and are part of a school-to-work education reform that mimics successful apprenticeship programs around the world. Participants receive specialized hands-on training and classroom instructions. Some government utility organizations, for example, offer paid apprenticeship programs. Union and contractor associations, sponsored apprenticeship programs, electrical contractors and other organizations also offer similar programs.

Apprenticeship programs generally consist of the following components:

  • On-the-job training: Work with experienced electricians and journey-level workers. You may rotate between different types of projects to gain a well-balanced knowledge of the trade and a better perspective of the organization’s operations. If the company uses it, you may also learn how to use their field service management software which is used to quote, schedule, time track and much more.
  • Evaluations: Those you work alongside with will evaluate your progress and help you know where you excel and areas that you may need further training on.
  • Testing: After months of hands-on training in specific skills, trainers test your aptitude.
  • Supplemental instructions: You will receive an academic education, usually in the form of night school, to learn about the theoretical background for the work you perform. Apprentices receive a minimum of 144 educational hours in addition to paid on-the-job training.

Benefits of Working in the Electrical Industry

  • Get paid to learn: Rather than accumulate debt to learn about your trade, apprenticeship programs pay you. You will earn a good wage, possibly receive benefits and receive the education you need at the same time.
  • Job security: The percentage of employment opportunities for electricians far surpasses the opportunities to construction trade workers and other occupations. There are jobs in this field right now. With alternative power generation becoming an emerging field and a large number of electricians reaching retirement age, the industry will see an influx of job opportunities, according to the BLS. While electricians in factories experience the most job stability, those who specialize in different areas, such as solar photovoltaic installations and electrical systems repair, will have the top job opportunities.
  • Career growth: There are no glass ceilings in the electrical industry. After completing an apprenticeship, you’ll have a position as a service technician or journey worker. You can then advance to a field management position before being promoted to an operation manager and distribution manager.
  • Pave your way: After gaining experience as a licensed electrician, you can chose to continue working for an employer or start your own electrical contracting business.
  • Respect: Electricians are among the most respected professionals in the construction trade industry. They are also some of the most well paid.

Today’s electrical career options are diverse, exciting and abundant. Take the first step toward this fulfilling career by signing up for an apprenticeship program. Local utility companies and trade unions can connect you to the resources you need to get started. If working with electricity and solving unique challenges interests you, an apprenticeship will get you well on your way toward a fulfilling vocation.

[Photo courtesy of Garry Knight via CC License]