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How Do I Become an Electrician Contractor?

An electrician working.
A formal training program is the first step in becoming an electrician contractor.
Article Details
  • Written By: Jessica Bosari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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To become an electrician contractor, you may need to attend a formal training program, depending on the type of electrical contracting you wish to do. Training often takes place through a combination of on-the-job training and vocational school classes. The hands-on training to become an electrician contractor can be physically demanding.

When you become an electrician contractor, you will find many electrician careers and jobs that offer excellent salaries. You may find a position in electrical engineering or become an electrician contractor in a residential setting. Most electricians choose residential work because it is the easiest type of work to learn, but electrical contractor rates in this field are low compared to other industries. For this reason, residential electrician jobs are less profitable than commercial occupations.

The benefit of an apprenticeship is that the training allows you to be paid for your work while you learn. When classes are needed, some employers will pay for the cost of tuition. When this process is complete, you will take an examination. If you pass, you will become a journeyman electrician, allowing you to work on your own. In most cases, licensing requires approximately 2,000 hours on the job training and 144 classroom hours.

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Those who want to become an electrician contractor must learn many skills. The work requires you learn to read blueprints, address public safety issues, learn building codes and electrical theory. Your time will be spent installing, repairing and maintaining electrical systems. The work hours may take place on evenings and weekends for residential work.

Electrician work may be performed on interior electrical systems, or you may work outside on electrical transformers and other high-voltage systems. This is why electricians must follow stringent safety codes. Safety is of the utmost importance because electrical shocks can severely injure or kill a worker.

Licensing requirements for electrician contractors vary by location. In many cases, a board made of community or industry leaders will review your skills, physical aptitude, and school performance. Such boards will also make the determination whether an individual can begin an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship will require three to five years training under the guidance of a master electrician.

Some locations will require continuing education for electricians to maintain their licenses. In most cases, the requirements mandate a small number of hours. You may be required to spend four to eight classroom hours in continuing education classes before license renewal.

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Discuss this Article

Emilski
Post 4

I guess there is a lot more involved in becoming an electrician than I originally thought. I knew there were different levels for other types of skilled labor like plumbers and carpenters, so I guess it follows that electricians would have the same type of regulations.

I think a lot of people play down the role of these individuals just because they don't need a college diploma to do the work they do. My best friend's dad worked as the head electrician for our city for several years, and he was very intelligent. Even though he didn't go to college, that was only because he didn't have to when he was starting out in his profession.

He still took several continuing education classes over his lifetime, and was knowledgeable about a lot of things. It just happened that his passion was in electricity. He ended up being very successful with his career and made much more than a lot of other people who did go have college degrees.

titans62
Post 3

The article says that most people get into the field of residential electric work, but I think if I were an electrician contractor that I would want to work in the industrial field. It seems like things there would be much more exciting. I'm sure at the same time that things would be more dangerous, as well.

You would be working with large pieces of equipment that had special wiring requirements, and it seems like you would get the chance to use more of the information you had been studying during your career. I understand that some people prefer working under the safer and more regular conditions of houses, but I think being in charge of the electrical work for a factory would be much more rewarding.

kentuckycat
Post 2

@stl156 - Good questions. I believe the main way an electrical contractor would differ from a regular electrician is that they are responsible for overseeing large-scale electrical installation projects. They are just like a building contractor. They have people working under them that they supervise. They may do some of the difficult work that the others are not qualified to do, and they are responsible for making sure things get done in a timely and cost effective manner.

As far as electrical engineers go, those are the people responsible for engineering electrical components. They are less involved with installing and more involved with creating. A regular electrician should have no problem hooking up the wiring for a home, but they would have no idea how to design an effective generator that could function as backup power for a city. Engineers would also do things like designing power grids for cities or designing the electronics of a computer chip.

stl156
Post 1

This may be a silly question, but what exactly does an electrical contractor do that is different from a regular electrician? The article says they have to do through the same process, so does that mean that the term electrical contractor is the same as an everyday electrician?

One of the other things I never quite understood was what an electrical engineer does. The article also talks about this, but in my experience, an electrician just has to have a high school diploma and have gone through the various stages and taken the tests to get an electrician's license. Electrical engineers, though, go through college taking engineering classes. What do they do with their degree, though. Obviously it must be something different than being an electrician.

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