Wiring buildings may not be especially glamorous work, but it’s poised to be a steady, well-paying job over the coming decade.
Becoming an electrician does not require earning a college degree, but an interest in, and affinity for math, science, mechanics and related fields is very helpful.
The usual path to becoming a licensed electrician involves an apprenticeship that typically lasts three to five years. These work-intensive programs, which are often sponsored by local unions or contracting companies, include at least 144 hours of classroom training and at least 2,000 hours of work-site experience. To explore apprenticeships and apply, check out the website for the National Electrical Contractors Association (www.necanet.org).
Apprenticeships are the norm, but you can also gain experience by becoming a helper for an electrician, or by enrolling in programs offered by technical schools or the U.S. Army. There are also three-year programs that train specifically for residential work.
When you’ve completed your training, you can apply to get your electrician’s license. Many states require a license, but Pennsylvania does not. Instead, regulations vary from town to town — so research into local regulations is a must.