A good way to secure work as an electrical apprentice is to get sponsored by a union, contractor association or an electrical contractor with its own training program. The basic requirements to become an electrical apprentice are to be at least 18 years old, to have a high school diploma or equivalent (including a year of algebra), to obtain a passing mark on an aptitude test and to pass a substance abuse screening, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While some electricians study at a technical college, most electricians learn the trade through an apprenticeship program lasting four or five years, during which they receive 144 hours of classroom training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training each year. Apprentices learn the electrical code, blueprint reading, safety and first aid, and specialty subjects such as communication networks, fire alarm systems and elevators. Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, electricians become journeymen who may work on their own in construction or maintenance, subject to local licensing.
Licensing requirements for electricians vary among the states, but most require electricians to pass a licensing exam that tests their knowledge of the National Electrical Code, as well as state and local electrical codes. In 2012, the median hourly pay of an electrician was $23.96 with a projected robust job growth of 20 percent between 2012 and 2022.