It’s often said that skilled tradesmen are never out of work. While this is a slight exaggeration, it’s true that employment prospects for electricians, carpenters and other contractors are pretty favorable right now. You may be considering signing up for a training program at electrician schools, but what do these courses actually teach you?
The National Electrical Code
Whenever you’re working with electricity, safety is paramount. Before you can start working as an electrician, you need to know how to approach electrical work safely and responsibly. Before you enroll at technical schools, make sure their electrical engineering programs teach you according to the National Electrical Code (NEC).
Although the NEC isn’t a legally binding or official document in the U.S., many states have adopted regulatory frameworks that adhere to it, making it sort of an unofficial guide to best practices when working with electricity. Most technical training schools will teach you about how to read, understand and apply the NEC to jobs you’ll be working on so you can approach contracts safely and legally.
The NEC was first published by the National Fire Protection Association in 1897, and is updated every three years, so get used to referring back to it early on in your studies – you’ll become extensively familiar with it during your career as an electrician.
It’s all well and good knowing how to work with electricity safely, but you’ll also have to roll your sleeves up and learn the fundamentals of electrical work before you can call yourself an electrician. Most technical schools will cover the basics of working as an electrical engineer, such as transmission, distribution, voltage, current, magnetism and more. While you learn these principles, you should be taught how to approach working with electricity safely and confidently.
Before you can strap on a toolbelt and start repairing wiring as a contractor, you’ll need to be licensed. This shows potential clients, state and federal regulatory bodies that you’re aware of safety procedures and are authorized to work on jobs of varying complexity. There are two main types of license you’ll come across as an electrician – the L-6, which is the Limited Electrical Journeyperson certification, and the E-2, which refers to the Unlimited Electrical Journeyperson accreditation.
Holders of L-6 licenses can perform low-voltage work on alarm and signal systems, and have to work alongside more skilled electricians. Jobs done by Limited Electrical Journeypersons cannot exceed 25 volts or five amperes, and you need around four years of experience or equivalent training before you can take the licensure exam.
Electricians with an E-2 license can work on any job, no matter how large the voltage. The kind of work you can expect to do with an E-2 license will vary from one state to another, but this type of certification is usually expected of independent contractors and business owners. You’ll also need an E-2 before you can hire anyone else to work for you in some areas.
Why do you want to become an electrician? Let us know in the comment space below.