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What Courses to Take to Become an Electrician?

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Electricians are responsible for wiring homes and other buildings, as well as repairing electrical equipment and electrical systems. They perform a variety of intricate and dangerous tasks on the job, such as connecting wires to transformers, circuit breakers and outlets. All of this they must do in accordance with state and municipal building codes, as well as the National Electrical Code.

Typically, engineers specialize in one of two areas: maintenance and construction. They must complete a number of engineering courses before they can become certified.

High School and Vocational School Courses

If you are a high school student and are thinking of becoming an electrician, you will want to inundate your school schedule with math and science classes, as these are the subjects most closely related to your future profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to enter into an electrician apprenticeship, all that you will need as far as education is concerned is a high school graduation diploma or general equivalency degree (G.E.D.). Of course, there will be other requirements and some testing before you are allowed into an apprenticeship program. According to the above source, many future-electricians complete programs at vocational schools (or specialized electrician training school). The courses you take in these programs will teach you electrical theory, electrical code, how to read blueprints, first-aid, general safety, and may also cover soldering, crane, elevator and alarm operation, as well as communications technology. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, most employers prefer candidates who have completed these types of programs, and these candidates usually start out with higher levels of pay.

Apprenticeship Courses

The majority of electricians enroll in apprenticeship programs, which offer both in-class education courses as well as on-the-job, paid training courses (you can complete a vocational school program as a substitute to the in-class portion of an apprenticeship program). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these programs are funded by committees made up of unions such as local National Electrical Contractors Association chapters and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The electrician apprenticeship program typically take four years to complete, with each year consisting of a minimum of 144 hours of in-class courses, as well as 2,000 hours of on-site training. When on-site, apprentices are under the supervision of experienced and qualified electricians. According to the above source, apprentices begin by performing simple tasks, such as attaching conduits and drilling holes, and then move on to more complicated and dangerous procedures, like testing and installing wiring, switches and outlets.

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2016 Salary Information for Electricians

Electricians earned a median annual salary of $52,720 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, electricians earned a 25th percentile salary of $39,570, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $69,670, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 666,900 people were employed in the U.S. as electricians.

About the Author

Lauren Treadwell studied finance at Western Governors University and is an associate of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Treadwell provides content to a number of prominent organizations, including Wise Bread, FindLaw and Discover Financial. As a high school student, she offered financial literacy lessons to fellow students.

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