Like many professionals, electricians fall into two categories: generalists and specialists. The latter category includes commercial, industrial and maintenance. Regardless of the category, electricians must be able to perform electrical repairs and maintenance in both business and residential buildings. Electricians are trained to work on building assessment, connectivity, heating and security systems [source: ulinks].

Becoming an electrician entails entering a certified apprenticeship program. But before you do that you need to meet the following minimum prerequisites:

  • You are at least 18 years old.
  • You have a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma.
  • You learned one year of high school algebra.
  • You are in excellent physical shape.
  • You don't take drugs [source: become-an-electrician].

Here's how to become an electrician:

  • Decide what kind of electrician you want to be (generalist or specialist).
  • Join an electrician apprenticeship program sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) or Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC). These programs include both classroom courses and on-the-job training, and take about 4 years to complete.
  • Earn a certificate in a technical vocational school or training academy. If you go this route, you will learn the classroom theory in the vocational school, and will then have to look for an apprenticeship to develop the on-the-job skills.
  • Continue your education. Electricians must keep up-to-date with the latest developments in technology, National Electrical Code changes and, if you're a specialist, the latest developments in your field.
  • Get licensed. Some state and local governments require electricians to be licensed. In addition, if you plan to be an independent contractor, you may need an additional license.
  • Train to be a supervisor or manger. As you advance in your career you may want to be a supervisor or manager, or even start your own business [source: bls].