Because electricians work in the energy sector, an industry that is invested with public interest, and because of the inherent danger that naturally comes with the regular work of electricians, states take a great interest in the regulation of the practice of electrical work. They do this by licensing those who can practice as electricians within their jurisdictions, and licenses are mainly granted only to those who have passed the requirements for licensing, which may include written and practical exams.
So how does one become a licensed electrician? The specific requirements for getting a license vary depending on the state you are in. Although some states do not require electricians to be licensed at all, such as in Illinois and Pennsylvania, certain towns and cities within the state do regulate the practice of electricians by requiring adherence to proper licensing procedures. In any case, the specific licensing requirements may also vary, and a license may only be required if you plan on starting your own electrician business. In other jurisdictions, licensing requirements may be quite involved, and require multiple licensing requirements.
If you wish to know what the requirements are for getting a license in the jurisdiction in which you aim to practice, it is always a good idea to do your own research. You might start by asking the relevant resource persons or teachers during the period of your training what these licensing requirements are, and then when the time comes for you to look to getting your license, verify the information you have by inquiring at your local legislative body or town council. Most times, such regulations only seek to ensure that a person working with electricity has the proper training and education that it takes to do so safely.
The requirements for licensing in each state varies, but in general terms, the requirements for getting a license are pretty standard. A person applying to get an electrician’s license are required to show that:
- They have completed the required hours of classroom instruction, which can range anywhere from 500 to about 700 or more hours.
- They are duly registered with state-approved apprenticeship or trainee programs
- They have rendered or accumulated some 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience that involved actual work in the installation, repairs or other types of work on electrical wiring and electrical systems.
- They pass the state certification exam if there is one.
Subject to modifications or adjustments depending on the state’s specific requirements, this is a good overview of what the requirements are for an electrician to be able to get his license to operate within the state or the local district. Take note that because these licenses are only issued at the state level, they are not taken to be valid elsewhere in the country, particularly in states that provide for their own, and significantly different, licensing requirements. An electrician who therefore wishes to offer his services across state lines may wish to explore the possibility of getting licensed in the different states he wishes to practice in.
The above is a good overview of the licensing requirements for those who wish to practice general electrician work. Those who wish to practice as electricians in more specialized posts or job descriptions will need to adhere to even more stringent requirements. For instance, master electricians may be required to render some 12,000 hours of supervised on-the-job training, under the direction and supervision of another licensed master electrician.
These different requirements for getting an electrician’s license are geared towards ensuring that anybody who practices as an electrician and offers their services as such can deliver quality and efficient work. This is to ensure that little to no corrective measures need to be undertaken, and residences and buildings are assured of as continuous a power supply and distribution as much as possible. Licensed electricians are also familiar with best and safety practices to ensure that electrical installations and wiring will not pose any danger, whether to themselves or others. The required hours of classroom training and apprenticeship are designed to provide the electrician with theoretical knowledge and the practical implementation of that knowledge in real-world situations. Theory and practice go hand in hand.
Of course, the one good thing about this kind of setup is that an electrician who undergoes years of apprenticeship is also provided with the proper networking and professional support so that he gains his skills slowly but surely. The electrical industry is extremely challenging, not only mentally but also physically. Electricians are also required to stay on top of developments in their field and have a solid network of colleagues and support systems in place ensure that an electrician’s skills are continuously built up over time, and does not atrophy or begin to get old-fashioned or passé. A certain level of commitment, determination, and adherence to a standard in terms of skills, whether physical or intellectual and mental capacity, as well as the gumption to perform well even under most adverse conditions, make for a good electrician.
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