Aspiring electricians need to learn about electrical theory, local electric and building codes, and the National Electric Code to obtain a license. Different states require varying qualifications and training hours. Generally, completion of a four- or five-year apprenticeship program is necessary. Sponsors of apprenticeship programs accept applicants who are at least 18 years old, hold a high school diploma, complete one year of algebra, meet the minimum aptitude test score and pass a substance abuse test.
Many aspiring electricians proceed with an apprenticeship after high school, but some initially attend a technical school and later join an apprenticeship to undergo firsthand training. Apprenticeship programs offer technical training and paid on-the-job training. Independent Electrical Contractors, the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are organizations that sponsor apprenticeship programs.
Common classroom courses cover electrical theory, electrical code requirements, safety practices, mathematics and blueprint reading. Some electricians complete special training on elevators, fire alarm systems, communications or soldering.
The credits graduates earn from technical school courses count in their apprenticeship programs. Continuing education courses are sometimes necessary after finishing initial training. Aspiring electricians who complete at least one year of training are known as helpers, who assist journeyman electricians. Aspiring electricians who successfully complete apprenticeship programs become qualified journey workers who may offer certain electrical services depending on local licensing requirements.