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What Degree Do You Need To Be An Elec­tri­cian? How to become an elec­tri­cian

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Managing Editor
Carrie Sealey-Morris has covered bootcamps, careers, and higher education for College Consensus since 2017. Carrie is a graduate of the University of New Mexico where she earned a B.A. in American Studies. 
Founder/Senior Editor
B.A., M.Div.
Jeremy Alder has spent over a decade researching and writing about higher education to provided students with the information they need to achieve their goals. He has significant personal experience with career transitions, working as a freelance writer and editor, non-profit director, community organizer, preacher, teacher, retail manager, and carpenter prior to founding College Consensus. Homeschooled from the second grade, Jeremy is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin (B.A., Philosophy) and Duke University Divinity School (M.Div.). He currently lives in North Carolina with his wife, five kids, and a Labradoodle named Hank.
cc research electrician

If you are searching for a long-term career, then working as an electrician may be the right choice for you. While this job does not require a traditional degree, you will be expected to complete specific training programs. It’s one of the highest-paid trade jobs in the US! Once you are hired as an electrician, you can expect to earn a median salary that is higher than the average salary in the United States.

DegreeTime to GraduateSalary Range
Certificate/Diploma1 year$51K – $55K
Associate in Electrical Technology2 years$52K – $56K
Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering4 years$53K – $57K
Master’s in Electrical Engineering2-3 years$54K – $58K

What Degree Do You Need to Become an Electrician?

So how much education does an electrician need? In general, you will be expected to have a high school diploma or its equivalent if you want to become an electrician. Afterward, most electricians attend a technical school. During your training, you will learn about how electrical systems work and how to stay safe. Depending on your state, your training program may count as a part of your apprenticeship.

While each state is different, you will generally need to spend four or five years in an apprenticeship program before you can officially become an electrician. Each year of the program consists of 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. Unlike other career fields, these training hours will be paid. You will make less than you would as a certified electrician, but you will still earn a decent wage.

Sometimes, unions and similar groups will sponsor apprenticeship programs. Your state may also allow you to shorten your apprenticeship if you have electrical experience from a job in the construction industry or the military. There is also a training program offered through the Home Builders Institute.

No matter where you go for your training or apprenticeship, you will learn about similar topics. Before you can be an electrician, you must have a solid understanding of math, first aid and electrical codes. You will also need to understand how to repair fire alarm systems and elevators. To succeed in this field, electricians must be talented at soldering, reading blueprints and similar tasks.

What are the Best Degrees for an Electrician?

While there isn’t a specific degree required to become an electrician, there are educational paths that can help prepare individuals for this career. Here’s a list of degrees and educational programs that can be beneficial:

1. Electrician Certificate/Diploma Programs

Many technical schools and community colleges offer certificate or diploma programs in electrical technology. These programs typically cover:

  • basic electrical theory
  • wiring techniques
  • electrical code regulation
  • safety practices

A certificate or diploma typically takes 1 year or less. It’s a good start you can build on with an apprenticeship or associate degree.

2. Associate’s Degree in Electrical Technology

Some community colleges and technical schools offer associate’s degree programs in electrical technology. These programs provide a more comprehensive education compared to certificate programs and may include courses in:

  • advanced electrical systems
  • troubleshooting
  • blueprint reading

An associate degree generally takes 2 years if you’re studying full-time. Most electricians have an associate degree.

3. Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering

You don’t need a bachelor’s for entry-level electrician positions, but a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering can provide a strong foundation in electrical theory and principles. A bachelor’s can prepare you for higher-level positions like supervisor or manager. You might also specialize in certain areas of electrical work, like:

  • Control Systems
  • Electromagnetics
  • Electrical Engineering Management

Just like other bachelor’s degrees, a bachelor’s in electrical engineering takes about 4 years to finish.

4. Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering

You don’t need a master’s to be an electrician, but for advanced knowledge and skills, it’s a major leap. A Master’s in Electrical Engineering is a graduate-level degree that builds upon foundational concepts you learned at the undergraduate level. You can take specialized coursework and research in areas such as:

  • power systems
  • electronics
  • signal processing
  • control systems
  • telecommunications

Master’s students might do advanced laboratory work, design projects, and help faculty members with their research. A Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering can prepare graduates for careers in research, development, design, management, and academia.

Do You Need a Certification?

Electricians need certifications to prove they know their stuff and can do the job safely. These certifications are like work permits that show electricians understand electrical codes and how to keep everyone safe from danger.

To become a certified electrician, it usually takes about four years of on-the-job training. But that’s not all bad! During this time, you can earn other smaller certifications that give you more skills. Plus, many places will hire you as an electrician trainee while you learn on the job. So, becoming a certified electrician takes time, but it lets you learn and work your way up to becoming a real pro.

You will generally have to pass a test in order to get your license. The exact requirements can vary based on your location. For example, Texas requires journeyman electricians to finish 8,000 hours of on-the-job training before taking a test to get their license. Apprentice electricians, journeyman electricians and master electricians all have different requirements.

Meanwhile, California requires certified electricians to finish 8,000 hours of work and a registered apprenticeship. A non-residential lighting technician only has to complete 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. All of the electrician levels must pass an exam in order to become an electrician.

What Skills Do You Need to Have?

You need more than technical skills to be an electrician. There are other “soft” skills you will need if you want to succeed as an electrician. In general, you will need physical stamina and strength in order to perform the job properly. Additionally, you must be able to troubleshoot potential problems through critical thinking.

1. Critical Thinking

As an electrician, you must be able to use your mind to diagnose and repair issues. Your troubleshooting skills will help you figure out why an electrical line has failed. For example, you may use a multimeter to check an outlet’s amperage and resistance in order to figure out why it is not working.

2. An Ability to See Colors

Being able to see in color is not just a job requirement. It could also save your life. Because electricians need to be able to tell different electrical wires apart, they must be able to see different colors in order to do their job safely.

3. Physical Stamina and Strength

As an electrician, you will rarely spend your day sitting at a desk. Instead, you must run wires, connect fixtures and move heavy components. Some of the components may weigh up to 50 pounds. If you want to do this job, you will need average strength and stamina.

4. A Talent for Working With Customers

To succeed as an electrician, you will also need to work with people. Customer service is important because you will have to interact with clients on a regular basis. If you plan on starting your own business as an electrician, customer service will be vital to your company’s long-term success.

All of this doesn’t come from an electrician required education. That’s where you learn the specific technical skills. So what type of education is needed to be an electrician? What degree do you need to be an electrician?

How Long Does It Take to Become an Electrician?

Becoming a certified electrician takes time and practice, but the skills you learn are always in demand! You typically need about 8,000 hours of on-the-job training, which is around four years of working full-time.

Here’s the good news: being an electrician is different from other careers. First, you can actually earn other certificates while you work on your final one. Think of them like mini-achievements that give you extra skills.

Second, you don’t have to wait until you’re fully certified to start working in the field! Many places will hire you as an apprentice electrician while you train. So, you can get experience and earn money while you climb the electrician ladder to becoming a certified pro!

electrician stats

How Much Will You Make as an Electrician?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for an electrician is $60,240 per year. This works out to $28.96 per hour. At the top of the pay scale, the top 10 percent earned $98,720. Meanwhile, the bottom 10 percent made just $33,810. The field is also growing at 6%, higher than the national average.

These wages are better than the average worker’s pay in the United States. During the same time period, a typical worker made a median salary of $41,535. While becoming an electrician can take time, the increased salary is worth it for many workers.

What Are Your Job Prospects in This Field?

If you become an electrician, you’re looking at a career with tons of opportunities! Electricians aren’t just the folks who wire up brand new buildings. They’re also the heroes who keep the lights on in our homes, schools, and stores by fixing and maintaining electrical systems in older places too.

That’s why there’s such a high demand for electricians – over the past ten years, almost 50,000 new electrician jobs popped up every year! And guess what? That number is only expected to grow by 6% in the next ten years. So, if you’re looking for a stable career with good job security, being an electrician is a great choice!


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