Guide to Becoming an Electrician


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Anywhere where construction and growth are happening, or electricity is running, electricians are needed. A career as an electrician is full of critical thinking and room for advancement. If you feel motivated to learn new skills that can provide a rewarding career, getting started as an electrician is easier than you think. Start today by enrolling in UEI College’s Electrician Technician Training Program. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all of the information that you need to know on how to become an electrician in the United States.

What is an Electrician?

Electricians are skilled workers who design, install, manage and improve electrical wiring systems. These systems may be powering lights or equipment in a residential or commercial building, or powering machines, appliances and other large equipment. The wide variety of uses for electricity provide endless opportunities for skilled electricians to advance and grow in their field.

What Do Electricians Do?

Electricians are designers, skilled workers, and problem solvers. They may be following blueprints and installing wiring to a new structure like a home, commercial building, or industrial building, or troubleshooting problems with existing systems and components. Anywhere electricity is run, an electrician helps ensure it is safe and functioning properly.


Electricians may work indoors or outdoors, in cramped spaces, or up high. They do physical work, assembling brand new electrical systems, or they may work installing and repairing smaller electrical devices like security systems, light fixtures, and fans.


They use critical thinking to test components and find solutions, as well as math to measure and calculate the amount of wiring needed. Their work ensures people are safe and comfortable at home or at their business.

How to Become an Electrician?

Becoming an electrician does not require a college degree, but it does take time to become proficient in the trade. Getting started and finding an entry-level position in the field may be easier than you think.


Step #1: Obtain a High School Diploma or GED.

Electrical work requires a good grasp of algebra, English, physics, and mechanical drawing. That’s why most training programs require at least a high school diploma to get started. To learn more about the requirements to enroll in UEI College's Electrician Technician Program, contact us. One of our admissions representatives will reach out to you, and provide you with all of the information that you need to enroll in the program.


Step #2: Attend a Vocational School or Electrician Training Program.

While there are two-and four-year programs available to become an electrician, a more direct path is by attending a vocational or trade college program. An education through a vocational school will give you a great foundation for a career as an electrician. Programs like the one offered at UEI will cover the basics of tools used in the field, how electricity works, and electrical terminology and will give you critical hands-on experience that you need to begin a new and rewarding career as an electrician.


UEI College’s Electrician Technician Program offers hands-on experience working with equipment and wires in a lab setting. Our program teaches how to maintain and install systems in commercial, residential, and industrial settings. This foundational education will make you more competitive when seeking a job or further apprenticeship opportunities.


Step #3: Apply for an Apprenticeship or Become an Electrician Trainee.

You can begin working as an electrical apprentice right out of trade school. Completing an apprenticeship allows you to become licensed and be qualified to work on your own or lead a team of electricians. Apprenticeships are entry-level positions and may be competitive, which is why it’s a good idea to attend a trade program to prove your knowledge and skills. Your apprenticeship is your opportunity to gain further hands-on experience and build relationships with others in the field. This is typically a paid position.


You can find an apprenticeship opportunity through:


1. A trade school. Our Career Services Department helps students find an entry-level position in their field, providing resume help, interview practice, and help scheduling interviews.


2. Through a union. A trade union can be very helpful in identifying possible jobs and apprenticeship opportunities. While joining a union can have some benefits, it can come with additional costs as well. Make sure you take the time to research this before you sign up.


3. Without a union. If you decide joining a union is not for you, you can still find an apprenticeship. Organizations like Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) or the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) can help identify apprenticeship opportunities.


4. Independent Contractors and Builders. You may also be able to find opportunities with independent contractors and builders. As an apprentice, you are not yet licensed, but you must be registered in most states. During your apprenticeship, you need to work under the supervision of a licensed electrical journeyman or master electrician. Apprentice programs may differ from state to state, but most apprenticeship programs require about 8,000-10,000 hours of on-the-job training and 720 hours of classroom instruction. This can take four or five years to complete.


Step #4: Become Licensed.

Once you have completed your apprenticeship, you can submit your proof of completion and take a licensing exam. The requirements to take this exam vary by state. It will test your knowledge of basic electrical principles, safety practices, and your understanding of the National Electric Code. To take the exam, you will need to show proof of the hours worked in the field (on the job) as well as your school hours (certificate of completion). These requirements will vary from state to state. Training to become a licensed electrician takes time, but each level provides new skills and career opportunities. Entry-level electricians can begin a career that they can be proud of.

What Education Do You Need to Become an Electrician?

Becoming an electrician takes many hours of training and classroom learning, but you do not need to have a college degree to become an electrician. You can begin an entry-level position as an electrician in as few as ten months by attending an electrical trade school program, such as UEI College’s Electrician Technician Training Program.


Most electrical trade programs do require a high school diploma to get started, to prove a basic understanding of math concepts needed to become an electrician.


A qualified trade program should teach you how to install, maintain and repair electrical systems in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. Our program at UEI begins with basic safety precautions, electrical theory, fundamentals of energy, flexible conduits, cable assemblies, and code requirements. We’ll also cover low-voltage motors and motor controls and solar applications.

What Are the Different Types of Electricians?

A career as an electrician offers plenty of room for specialization and growth. You can start as an apprentice and eventually work your way up to owning your own business, managing a team, or working on your own. There are several different types of electricians, including:


Residential Wireman.

Residential wiremen work, as the title says, in residential settings. They are responsible for connecting a client’s equipment to a power source and helping with the installation of residential systems. They may work as part of a construction team, installing all new wiring to a home, or they may work in homes that are already built to improve existing systems or install new outlets, security systems, or light fixtures.


Outside Lineman.

Outside linemen are considered to have the most challenging job as they often work outdoors and with high-voltage equipment. This position requires extensive safety knowledge. They often work up high on light poles or electrical wires.


Inside lineman.

Inside linemen help install conduits, light fixtures, and electrical outlets indoors in commercial or industrial settings. They may also maintain and repair existing systems.


New Construction Electrician.

Installation technicians help to set up electrical equipment in buildings that are still under construction. They are usually working in buildings that do not yet have air conditioning or electrical power.



Electricians maintain inside electrical systems, as well as backup generators used in buildings such as hospitals, and other establishments.

Electricians may also specialize in:

  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Maintenance
  • Construction
  • Installation
  • Automotive
  • Marine
  • Air
  • Research
  • Highway systems


There are also different levels of electrical technicians based on education and licensing, including:


Apprentice Electrician.

An apprentice is an entry-level position in the field. These individuals work under the supervision of a journeyman electrician to gain further knowledge in the industry. Apprentices are paid employees. Most electricians spend their first four or five years in the industry as an apprentice, gaining enough working hours to take their licensing exam.


Journeyman Electrician.

A journeyman is an electrician who has completed an apprenticeship, taken an exam, and is able to work on their own without supervision.


Master Electrician.

A master electrician has obtained the highest level of certification and is qualified to supervise a team of journeymen. They can also take on apprentices on their own, lead job sites, and pull permits for electrical projects. As a master electrician, you are qualified to run your own business as an independent contractor.

Where Do Electricians Work?

Depending on their specialization, electricians may work indoors or outdoors in residential, commercial, or even industrial settings. Electricians are needed for installing electricity to brand new buildings or maintaining and repairing systems in existing buildings.


Electricians are taught a wide scope of skills that can be used to design, install, and maintain electrical wiring and components anywhere. In addition to wiring throughout a building, an electrician can also be trained to maintain and repair electrical motors. The work of an electrician technician is very hands-on and may include commuting long distances, climbing tall ladders, or crawling into tight spaces. A skilled electrician has opportunities for work just about anywhere.

What Skills Do Electricians Need to Have?

Electricians sometimes work alone with equipment and tools that can be dangerous if not used correctly and serve clients who need their specific skills and knowledge. That’s why it is important for prospective electricians to have both professional and soft or social skills as they do their job.


Important soft skills include:


  • Ability to Learn. Your first several years as an electrician may be spent in an apprenticeship situation where you’re learning on the job from someone with more experience. As you’re learning and doing the work, you need to be able to communicate the issues you see and the solutions to the problem. You should not be afraid to ask questions to understand better the work being done. You should also have the ability to work as part of a team.
  • Problem-solving. Electrical work is all about problem-solving. If a system is not working correctly, it’s up to you to diagnose the issue and fix it. If you enjoy solving puzzles and working through issues, you’ll like this career's challenge.
  • Customer service. Whether your customer is a homeowner or a business owner, they have a problem, and they need a solution. Your compassionate handling of the situation will lead to better results for everyone.
  • Travel. Many electrician positions require travel or long hours. Be prepared to work a flexible schedule and open to the possibilities it may bring.


Technical skills include:

  • Safety knowledge, procedures, and codes
  • How to install cables, conduits, tubing, and switching devices
  • How to use tools, including power tools
  • How to read blueprints and designs
  • How to repair, maintain or replace equipment, fixtures, systems, and wiring

How Long Does it Take to Become an Electrician?

There are several paths to begin a career as an electrician, but the quickest way is to complete an electrician program at a trade school such as UEI College. UEI College's Electrician Technician Program can be completed in as little as 10 months. With training from UEI College, you can learn everything you need to find an entry-level position as an electrician. This training can open doors to a career as an electrician for years to come.

Do You Need a License To Become an Electrician?

You do not need a license to begin a career as an electrician, but you do need knowledge and training. You need a basic understanding of safety procedures as well as electrical components. The best way to begin is by attending a vocational training program. These programs teach the basics, provide hands-on opportunities, and give students a foundation to find an entry-level position in the field.


After several years of experience, you may decide to become licensed to further your career opportunities. The requirements to become a licensed electrician vary by state and include a combination of classroom and hands-on experience in the field as well as passing an exam.

Is It Difficult to Become an Electrician?

Getting started as an electrical technician is not difficult, but it does take dedication and hard work to make it a truly successful career. Electricians do not become licensed until they’ve completed thousands of hours of documented experience and hundreds of hours of classroom instruction. However, you can begin making money as an electrical apprentice in as few as ten months with training from a trade school like UEI College. From there, you can find a rewarding career and solid opportunities for advancement.


UEI provides students with all the support and resources they need to gain skills and get a foot in the door to becoming an electrician. Our flexible class schedule with classes offered day or evening makes it possible to receive this training while continuing to work or while earning your high school diploma.

Should You Become an Electrician?

If you enjoy working with your hands and solving complex problems, a career as an electrician may be a good fit for you. Though physically demanding at times, it takes great skill to be an electrician, and using that knowledge to benefit others can be very rewarding.


There are many opportunities for growth as an electrician. With experience, you can become licensed, lead a team of other electricians, mentor future electricians or work in complex industries.


Electricians can work alone or as part of a team in residential, commercial, or industrial settings. If you decide one setting is not for you, you can always search for a new position that may be a better fit.


Electricians are highly trained. Their ability to work with dangerous components is respected by those who depend on their knowledge.


If all of that sounds interesting to you, then beginning training as an electrician is a smart move.

What Does a Day in the Life of An Electrician Look Like?

There is no typical day in the life of an electrician. There are so many different types of electricians and specialties they may be a part of. Most electricians work typical business hours of 9-5 but some may also be asked to work weekends or evenings. Electricians working outdoors may start and end their day sooner.


Electricians spend their day either installing new systems or diagnosing problems with existing electrical systems. Electricians use basic math skills to ensure they are solving electrical problems successfully and follow building codes carefully to ensure the safety of the residents.


Installing new systems includes running wires through walls either on a construction site or in an existing building. This may mean working in tight spaces and using power tools to drill and cut holes.


Maintaining and replacing existing systems may include testing or replacing wires and ensuring the safe operation of the system.


Depending on the type of work being done, electricians may be working on finished or unfinished buildings. The work is often very physical and requires the ability to crouch down, lift and carry heavy objects, perform work from tall heights, fit into tight spaces and climb ladders or scaffolding.

How Much Does it Cost to Become an Electrician?

How much it costs to become an electrician depends on the path you choose to get there. You could train to become an electrician through a two or four-year college program, paying tuition and fees each year. Alternatively, you can attend a trade school such as UEI College and receive the training you need to enter the career field in less than a year, at a significantly lower cost than a four-year university. If you choose to attend a trade school, you may be eligible for grants and scholarships. UEI College's Financial Services Department will help walk you through applying for this assistance. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

What Should You Look For in an Electrician School?

There are many training programs available to help you get started in the electrical field. Here are a few things you should consider when choosing one:


Schedule. Are you someone who needs flexibility when you attend school? Many programs offer day or evening classes, making it possible to work when you’re not in class. UEI’s electrician program is a hybrid program, meaning you can complete assignments and tests from home on any device and attend in-person labs for hands-on practice just twice a week.


Experience. Because electrical work is very physical, you should choose a program that offers a variety of hands-on experiences. UEI College is focused on providing access to real-life equipment to give our students the best opportunity to learn by doing. Our instructors have experience working in the field, providing a unique perspective to each module.


Support. Does the program offer tutoring? What about assistance finding a job after you graduate? At UEI College, we are obsessed with student success. We offer free tutoring, open lab time, and mentors to help walk you through any challenges you face during the program. Our Career Services Department will also help with resume writing and interview skills to help prepare you to find an entry-level position as soon as you graduate.

Consider Enrolling at UEI College to Become an Electrician

UEI College has the support and resources necessary for you to successfully transition to a new career as an entry-level Electrician. We’re proud to teach the skills you need through hands-on learning experiences in a flexible and compassionate environment.


Our experienced instructors will teach you everything you need to know to begin working as an entry-level electrician as soon as you graduate. You can prepare for a career within a utility company, electrical material sales, electrical contractors, warehouses, building maintenance, installation, or electrical part houses. You’ll be prepared to begin an entry-level career as an electrician or security and fire alarm installer in as few as ten months.

What Do UEI’s Electrician Classes Cover?

Our Electrician Technician program covers all the knowledge and skills you need to begin working in a residential, commercial, or industrial setting. Our courses teach wiring, blueprint reading, building codes, motor controls, low voltage application, solar systems, and proper safety practices.


Courses taught by UEI College’s Electrical Technician Program Include:


EL110 Basic Safety: We’ll introduce students to basic safety in the construction industry, including using power tools and reading blueprints. We’ll talk about how to move equipment and use basic math and calculations for measurements. We’ll also cover OSHA regulations and CPR.


EL120 Introduction to Electrical Theory: This course teaches students the laws and theories of electricity. We’ll talk about magnetic induction, transformers, and capacitors and give an overview of electrical power generation. We’ll also explore the types of electric motors.


EL130 Flexible Cables/Conduit Bending and Raceways: This course explains the various flexible conduits and cable assemblies used to protect electric wiring. Students will get to practice installing these conduits and their associated connectors and fittings. You’ll learn to bend tubes and pipes commonly used in commercial electrical wiring.


EL140 Residential Applications: During this course, students will learn to layout and install a branch circuit following codes for the National Electrical Code (NEC). We’ll talk about load calculations, receptacle placement, outlets, electrical symbols, and the requirements for grounding, bonding, conductor identification, and sizing calculations. All of this is necessary for work in a residential setting.


EL150 Commercial Applications: This course will cover the materials and applications used in commercial settings. Students will learn code requirements and gain the ability to calculate service, feeder, and branch circuit requirements. Students will also practice troubleshooting and maintenance.


EL160 Low Voltage Applications: This course will give students the knowledge necessary to install alarm systems, telecommunication systems, and entertainment electronics. We’ll talk about all the equipment used by this equipment and how to select, install, test, and remove the various cables used.


EL170 Motor and Industrial Motor Controls: This course covers the various types of electric motors and how they are used. We’ll talk about single-phase and three-phase motors, capacitor start/run motors, direct current motors, and interrupting the nameplate data. Students will learn to get hands-on experience working with basic electronic devices all the way up to complex and intricate circuits to prepare them for a career in an industrial setting.


EL180 Programmable Logic Controls: This course will teach students about electricity and semiconductor fundamentals. You’ll learn to identify, test, and work with components and explain their function and purpose.


EL190 Solar Electric Applications: This course introduces students to photovoltaic (PV) science and the fundamentals of solar energy. Students will learn the conceptual, mechanical, and electrical design of this type of energy as well as how to design and install solar panels with an emphasis on wiring and electrical issues.