More and more students are opting to go the trade route, rather than get a university degree. It can be a lucrative choice too. College students amass large student debts that cannot be written off, even if the student later files for bankruptcy. Once they have their degrees, they often find it difficult to find jobs in a saturated environment. If they do manage to find a job, there is a good chance that it will not pay well until they have several years of experience.
By learning a trade, rather than going to a college, students give themselves the opportunity to learn valuable, in-demand skills. That being said, it may not be for everyone.
Becoming an electrician is a long journey. Students need to first consider if it is one they want to take. There are personal attributes and abilities that need to be thought about and improved.
Physical skills needed to become an electrician:
- Physical strength and dexterity. Electricians will need to have some level of physical strength in order to carry out their tasks. They will need to be able to carry and use fairly heavy tools. They will need to be good with their hands as well. Often the work they will do will involve delicate and complicated devices.
Mental skills needed to become an electrician:
- People skills. Electricians need to be able to work well with other people. They will be essential in wiring new buildings. If they are not able to communicate with project managers and other professionals like plumbers, there will be serious issues.
- Attention to detail. Electricians need to be aware that their work can pose a very real safety risk. If a carpenter makes a mistake, a cupboard door will be skew. If an electrician makes a mistake, it can cause an electrical fire.
- Patience and discipline. Electricians will face challenging problems that will be frustrating and difficult to solve. They will need to keep a level head at all times in order to find solutions that fix the issues in a safe manner. They will also need to exercise discipline. There are strict rules and regulations governing the field that they will need to adhere to.
If a student has the physical and mental ability to become an electrician, their training will begin in high school. There are specific skillsets that all electricians need. The foundation for these skills is built in early education by taking specific classes.
High school classes young electricians should take:
- There are dozens of different calculations that need to be made for each job an electrician does. By studying math at high school, students will make it much easier for themselves to learn the more advanced math subjects they will need to learn later on.
- Science, specifically physics. Many of the requirements for electrical certification are based on an understanding of the science behind electricity. If students have a basic foundation in physics before they reach trade school, it will be much easier to grasp the more complicated theories.
- Shop class. Because electricians have to use specialised tools and their hands, it is a good idea for students to become familiar with using tools before they go into trade school. This will make them more comfortable learning how to use new ones.
Once students complete high school, it is a fairly straightforward process to become an electrician. Simple, but not easy. The first thing they will need to do is build a solid foundation.
Rather than going to college, electrical students go to trade school, where there is a much greater emphasis on practical work. There is still a great deal of theory that is taught, but it is coupled with hands on experience.
Skills learned in trade school:
- Electrical Theory. The science behind how electricity works. Different mathematical methods to calculate power requirements.
- Wiring practices. How to safely install wiring in homes and other buildings. Calculating load balancing.
- Electrical code. The national safety regulations and laws governing the electrical industry.
- How to avoid accidents and what to do in various situations where electricity is a hazard.
- Technical drawing. How to create and understand technical drawings and instructions.
Apprenticeship and certification:
In order for an electrician to become certified as a journeyman, they need to complete an apprenticeship. The amount of time required depends on the state they are in but in all cases, a certain number of hours working under a journeyman electrician must be completed. Once the apprentice has completed their hours, they will need to study the national electrical code in great detail. They must write a certification exam that tests their knowledge of theory and regulations to ensure that they are able to work safely.
Once certified, electricians need to continuously hone their skills and take additional courses that will eventually allow them to become certified as master electricians.