As with many professions, becoming an electrician requires discipline, effort and many years of training and skills development.
Some of the skills needed can only be acquired on the job while others can be learned in a classroom environment. In addition to the skills that an electrician must have, there are also skills that will be very helpful to them from the point of view of business management.
In the case of electricians, the progression of skills is fairly standard and linear. They will need vocational training in a trade school, an apprenticeship, experience and finally a licence to operate.
Following are steps for electrician training:
The first step: High school
It can be difficult for children and teenagers to know what career path they should follow while they are still in school. That being said, many of the skills needed to pursue a career in electronics are the same ones needed to move into engineering and the sciences. For a prospective electrician to be allowed into a trade school, they will need to take the following classes in high school:
• Math. This is important for many professions, but it is essential for electronics. Students in the field will need to be able to make calculations and work out what the requirements are for different projects. A strong foundation in mathematics is critical.
• Shop class. While the cognitive skills like math are important, it would be a good idea for students to get some experience working with machinery and different tools. This will make them more comfortable working with the tools an electrician uses.
• English. Electricians will need to deal with customers and other businesses. The ability to communicate effectively is another important skill that has a foundation in high school.
The second step: Trade school
Once a student leaves high school, and they have decided to pursue a career in electronics, the next step in their journey is to attend a trade school of some kind. Here they will be able to get a diploma or senior certificate that allows them to work with experienced electricians in the field. At a trade school, electrical students get a much more focused tuition. Here, the foundation is laid for their career by studying the following:
• Industry knowledge. The basic concepts like electrical physics and calculations are taught at a trade school. An electrician needs these skills in order to understand the best way to approach problems in the field.
• Regulatory information. Electricians need to have a complete knowledge base regarding the different regulations they need to adhere to. Electrical hazards can cause death and extreme property damage. Understanding the regulations governing the field will help electricians avoid creating hazards.
• Safety training. Experienced electricians may not have time to properly instruct their apprentices in the full range of safety subjects. In trade school, safety training should include basic first aid, correct operating procedures and emergency response training, for attending to someone who has been electrocuted for example.
The third step: Apprenticeship
Once an electrician has completed trade school, they should have a strong theoretical understanding of how to install, maintain and repair a range of electronics. Unfortunately, this is not enough to qualify them to work alone. They still require on the job experience. By working with experienced electricians through an apprenticeship, students will learn important skills while building their knowledge base to the point that they could solve problems by themselves. During a typical apprenticeship, electricians would learn the following skills:
• Hands on methods. Often, experienced electricians will have unique methods of solving problems or installing systems. By working directly with them, apprentices learn about new ways of doing things.
• Advanced technical skills. While working on projects with a master electrician, apprentices will be able to take their theoretical knowledge and apply it in the field. This will give them exposure to a wider range of study materials, like blueprints and new technologies.
• Functional compliance. It would be easy to learn the regulations governing the industry from a book, but seeing them in the real world provides a much more intimate understanding. Working on sites that have been damaged by faulty wiring due to noncompliance will hopefully ensure that younger electricians follow the rules.
The final step: The licence
The last piece of essential training that an electrician needs are the skills required to get an electricians licence. Most of the hard skills will have been learned during the apprenticeship, but there may be some additional class room learning required in order to pass the exam.
Once an electrician is licenced, their training should not stop. There are always new technologies being developed and new methods that can be used.
Many electricians run their own businesses. Completing short courses in business fields like accounting, marketing or management are almost always useful.