The Necessary Skills & Qualifications to Become a Professional Electrician

The Necessary Skills & Qualifications to Become a Professional Electrician

Beyond basic tasks like replacing light bulbs and checking circuit breakers, anything that involves electricity is best left to the professionals. “Playing” with electricity is dangerous even when you know what you’re doing. It’s especially hazardous for amateur DIYers.

But if your passion lies in wires and blueprints, the role of a professional electrician could be for you. The world runs on electricity, and, as we see in the aftermath of hurricanes and earthquakes, panic sets in quickly when there is none. We need experts like you to keep the supply chain going around the clock.

Before you make a major investment into the best electrician tools you can buy and start advertising your services, take a look at what’s involved in your career. Electricians must abide by state and local regulations, including education and experience. With these skills and qualifications, you, too, can be part of this growing and lucrative industry.

  1. Your Education

No matter where you are in your life, you’ll need to wait until you have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Electricians need to have a firm grasp of subjects like physics, algebra, and English. So, if you were one of the many who didn’t think you would need higher-level math or English in your future, you chose a career where you do!

Once you have your basic high school requirement, look for an electrician training program near you. This could be a trade school or vocational or technical college. The knowledge you’ll gain during this time will be essential to finding someone to apprentice you and passing the licensing exams.

During your education, you’ll connect with others who, like you, are looking for apprenticeships. Your instructors should have a network of electrical businesses or other contacts who are willing to take on apprentices. This is a required step before you can apply for licensure.

Apprenticeships are run alongside your classroom instruction. As an apprentice, you’ll be mentored by a professional and receive on-the-job training. The process from start to licensure typically takes about four years because you need between 6,000 and 10,000 hours (depending on your state) of experience.

Keep in mind that there is no “college degree” requirement for electricians. You can attend a trade school program that you’ll complete within a few months or opt for an associate’s degree at your local college. Either way, you are still required to complete the full apprenticeship portion of your training. The time in an approved school counts towards those hours.

  1. Your Licensure or Certification

As long as you’ve gone through a reputable school, your education should have prepared you for the state’s requirements for training and apprenticeship. Now, the independent work begins.

First, you’ll sign up to take the state’s license test for electricians. These are designed to ensure you understand and can apply the National Electrical Code and vital skills used by electricians.

When you finish your apprenticeship, you’ll also take a journeyman exam. This is a required test in most states if you want to be a journeyman electrician. Renewing your license may involve continuing education credits.

If you push for a Master Electrician license, you’ll need to have more experience, likely in a niche area. But with this designation, you can take on more specialized jobs and charge higher rates.

  1. Your Skills

During your training, whether at a trade school or college, you’ll learn the skills necessary to handle electricity. Those skills depend on the kind of career you’re aiming for. 

In general, a basic certificate includes courses in electric circuitry, print reading, construction technology, and technical math. How in-depth these courses get depends on the program you choose. You’ll receive a deeper education with more skills in an associate’s program than you would in a three-month online class.

Look for programs that offer the knowledge you’ll need to pass the licensing exam. At a minimum, these will include electrical power, HVAC, and photovoltaic systems. Then, add on training for the specialty skills you want to learn.

None of the time spent obtaining your education is “wasted.” You’ll learn invaluable skills that will help you on the job, and much of the time in class is applied toward your apprenticeship requirements.


With enough hours under your belt over the years, you can grow and expand your job prospects by passing the journeyman and master electrician exams. But there’s no shortcut to becoming an electrician. Time, hard work, and experience are the only ways to excel in this career.

When you know what you’re doing and build a reputation as a knowledgeable and reliable electrician, your services will be in high demand. It’s a lucrative yet dangerous field, and it’s an essential industry where those like you with a passion for the job are needed.

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