Skills & Qualifications Needed to Be an Electrician


Electricians are professionals who install and maintain the circuits and wiring essential to the many devices of our daily lives. Training to become an electrician requires both formal classwork and a hands-on apprenticeship; and they must keep up with new technology and government regulatory changes throughout their career.

Basic Education

A prospective electrician needs a high school diploma or GED. High school can be a starting point for a career as an electrician. Many high schools offer shop classes in electronics, blueprint reading and information technology.

Academic Work

Prospective electricians must complete formal education as well as on-the-job training. Generally, this is in the form of a two-year associate’s degree in electronics or electrical technology from a community college or technical school. Programs combine shop classes with courses in physics and mathematics. There are also classes on safety regulations and building codes.


Practical application is the heart of an electrician’s work and he must complete an apprenticeship before receiving a license. Some academic programs assist graduates in finding entry-level jobs, such as an electrician’s helper. Work is combined with apprenticeship training sponsored by an industry or trade organization. A few examples include the International Brotherhood of Electricians and the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Ongoing Education

Once the apprenticeship is completed, a written exam must be passed before obtaining an electrician’s license. Continuing education is also critical. From time to time, an electrician will be required to take classes to keep abreast of changes in building codes and other regulations. To move up to master electrician, which many states require if you want to become an electrical contractor, you will need at least 7 years' experience or a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

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