If you want to become an electrical contractor, you must dedicate several years to education and training. Having a good understanding of math and electronics from school is a great starting place. An electrical apprenticeship is the most popular type of formal training, though there are more informal methods for learning this trade.
An electrician must be a master of any electrical system, whether it is repairing a home's fuse box or installing a wiring system in a new skyscraper. You must understand the many scientific principles that govern electricity, know how to safely provide the proper current for a project and be up to date on local and national building codes.
If you excel in school subjects such as math, science and shop, you might have the skills to become an electrical contractor. There are many vocational and technical school programs offering to prepare you for a life of working with electricity. These can be great preparation but are often not required. The only way to fully prepare for electrical contracting is through on-the-job training.
The best place to get this training is by doing an apprenticeship. Requirements vary from country to country; in the United States, for example, apprenticeships last four to five years and require 144 hours of classroom education and more than 8,000 hours of field work. Apprentices will learn all of the skills necessary to become an electrical contractor, such as properly reading blueprints, preparing sites for electrical work, how to install various types of wiring and how to perform electrical maintenance, and you will get the repetition needed to someday make these decisions independently. Apprenticeships are commonly run through trade unions, and you must apply through them to begin.
An apprenticeship provides documented proof that you have mastered all the skills necessary to become an electrical contractor, but it is not the only way to begin in this profession. Informal training can be acquired, frequently through doing construction work, by helping an electrician and learning from them. By assisting, by asking questions and through independent study, you can also acquire the same skills as an apprentice, although probably over a longer period of time.
No matter how your education comes together, most places require a test to receive a contractor's license. This will be a written and hands-on examination covering all of the basics and problems you should know in order to become an electrical contractor. Once you have a license and begin work, your education is not complete. Many employers require continuing education in order for contractors to stay up to date with the latest technology and techniques.