Electrician TrainingSteps to Become an Electrician

Electrician training involves both “book learning” and “hands on experience” to gain the necessary skills.  There are steps to becoming a qualified electrician that are dictated by state licensing requirements.  The steps that need to be climbed include electrician courses and various lengths of time working in some type of an electrician apprentice program depending on which of the four electrical work specialties a person decides to pursue (Inside Wireman, Outside Lineman, Residential Lineman or Telecommunications Installer/Technicians).


Electrician courses required go beyond the learning basics of AC and DC current and about various electrical materials such as types and sizes of wires, conduits, components such as resistors or transformers, etc…  Many of the tasks performed by electricians require the ability to read blue prints or schematics and there are certain calculations needed (like to calculate total wattage) that require some basic math and algebraic skills.

Additionally, electrician training includes safety training for First Aid and CPR as well proper work techniques to use to avoid accidental injury.  For instance, someone wishing to become an outside lineman learns about the proper protective gear for high voltage wires like rubber gloves and safety knots for climbing poles.

Electrician training also involves learning how to use the correct tools and equipment for a job.  Normally these types of things are practiced in a lab before going out into the field doing an actual job.  Electrical work, again depending on the sub-specialty a person is entering, sometimes requires the learning about heavy equipment such bucket trucks a utility company uses.  Again using the Outside Lineman as an example, a person wishing to become a lineman will learn the proper way to secure the truck prior to even stepping into the bucket.  They will also learn how to operate and maneuver the bucket safely.

Tools of the Electrician

Learning how to operate specialty equipment is a part of electrical training.  From hand tools such as wire stripers and crimpers to gasoline or electric powered tools.  Electric powered tools include items like drills or Sawzalls (reciprocating saws).   An example of a gasoline powered tool used for electrical work is a “Ditch Witch” which cuts a narrow ditch into the ground deep enough to bury wires.  This piece of equipment is roughly the size of a large snow blower.  It is self-propelled with a long trench digger on the front; the operator, after starting and setting the digging depth, simply walks behind the machine to guide it as the machine pulls itself along digging the narrow ditch.

Knowledge of the National Electric Code is a must part of the training for Inside and Residential Wireman.  Taught in courses, the code is a printed book which some call the “electrician’s bible”.  This book covers everything from the correct sized wire to use in various circumstances to measurements required between certain electrical items such as outlets and the required distances from structural features such as floors, ceilings and walls.  Additionally it outlines the types of materials required to meet safety standards: examples are the various types of conduits and when they are to be used or the various types of receptacles and when they are to be used.

Apprentice

Technical and Community colleges usually offer electrician training and in nearly all cases, a person must have completed a certain number of courses or even an entire program before being hired in any capacity in the electrical field except perhaps as an electrician’s helper (which is basically a construction laborer).  To be an apprentice for an electrician will require courses and usually a test that when passed asserts the apprentice’s basic understanding of the electrical field and their ability to perform certain tasks with skill.  After courses a person begins working in the field and will need to do so for a certain amount of years (which is different by state licensing requirements and electrician sub-specialty) prior to applying for a master electrician’s license or being considered as a “qualified electrician”.


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