Beginner Electrician Guide and Frequently Asked Questions

Here is information about a book which I have written  that will provide expanded information to what is given on this page. It is available for $25 postpaid to any address in the USA. Updated January 2005.

Electrician Beginner Workbook
is a 130+ page guide to entry into the electrician career field as well as an aid to succeeding as a person begins related instruction. The workbook provides practice problems which might be on a pre-apprentice examination as well as 1400+ other practice problems.

Over 1000 surfers on the internet visit this specific web page every month. I could only offer general advice and some frequently asked questions in the past. Until now!

But the good news is that now I have a tremendous workbook written just for people who are thinking about becoming an electrician. Priced at $25, it is affordable to anyone. If you buy the item, look it over and do not like it, I will give you a full refund including the postage to return it to me. How can you loose?

There are 130+ pages of inside information including background, tips, insight, practice exam questions and much much more.

All for $25 postpaid. Now I am sure there are many people reading this who always resist spending money for something they see on the internet fearing a rip-off.  Well, in this case, if you pass on this item and it really seems interesting to you, then you are missing out on something fantastic. If you're serious about investigating the electrician career field, this workbook is for you.

Here's the deal. You can get quite a bit of information about this workbook which will help you decide if you want to send off a money order, check, or online payment. And you get the workbook. If you do not like it, I will give you all your money back plus postage to return it provided you return it in the same condition you receive it.

I have spent hundreds of hours just getting this workbook ready, not to mention the hours of preparing the online support for the workbook. Not to include the thirty years I have invested to learn all this stuff, to begin with.

How about buying a copy to see what it is all about? Overcome your resistance. I have a great online reputation. Check out my feedback reputation on eBay, the large auction site. Click HERE to see my feedback comments about other items I sell on eBay.

Here are some links to be connected to other pages at ElectricianEducation which give more details about this new workbook.

Workbook Specifics
Labor Organizations
Table of Contents With Sample Pages You Can See.
Audio Support
Practice Exam Help
URL Index
My jobs
Electrical Apprentice Links
Science Topics

Electrician Beginner Workbook Order Form

This item is also available as a digital download. Here is a button which you can use to purchase this workbook as a digital download. Find details about digital downloads at these websites HERE.

Buy Now NEC Tables Look-Up Workbook Immediate Digital Download $10.


Sincerely, David U. Larson  author

Now on to the general information provided free of charge about getting a job as an electrician.

Entry to the electrician career path usually begins with some exposure to doing electrical work at home, for a friend, or in a class room as a high school student. The amount of interest needed to stick with any career is huge. Moving from beginner to apprentice to journeyman to master to contractor or inspector requires a tremendous amount of personal development. Many books will need to be read, numerous manual skills will need to be perfected, memory of all will be essential for success, classes will be attended, and participation in seminars and workshops will occur.

A description of the kind of work that an electrician does is given at the links listed below.  Click on each of the below links to see what is involved.

If you have RealAudio, click HERE for an audio message. 

Electrician Job Description

More links for electrical apprenticeship:

Electrical Apprenticeship at Google

Electrical Apprenticeship at HotBot

Electrical Apprenticeship at DogPile

Electrical Apprenticeship at Yahoo

Electrical Apprenticeship at Lycos

Electrical Apprenticeship at Ask Jeeves

More links for electrician education:

Electrician Education at Google

Electrician Education at HotBot

Electrician Education at DogPile

Electrician Education at Yahoo

Electrician Education at Lycos

Electrician Education at Ask Jeeves

You may use this Google search box to find specific details you seek:



There are several ways to go about becoming an electrician. Depending on the age of the entrant, apprenticeship is obviously the best method of obtaining comprehensive education. But sometimes a person must enter without the benefit of apprenticeship. This method will probably involve self study and tutoring. These methods of getting skilled are extremely difficult. Certainly developing the manual skills will take some time. And facility with tools is essential. Not only will skill be important, but efficiency will be essential. Time limits for each task are well known by electrical supervisors. If a worker takes too long to do a job, then regardless of the amount of knowledge that worker possesses, that worker will not keep a job for long.

Go to this site and ask the question, How do I become an electrician? You will find details like what has been copied here from Ask Jeeves. But you have to go to that site to get the most current information and the most current links. It really is a great place to get great information. Cheers:>)


A Day in the Life (Career Profile)
Many of our survey respondents said that they had been fascinated by electricity ever since they were small, and few were disappointed with their choice of careers. There are two general types of electrical work: Construction work, which includes reading blueprints, wiring, installing, and testing electrical systems; and maintenance work, which involves troubleshooting, testing, and fixing already installed, improperly functioning, electrical systems. Most construction electricians are employed by contractors during the secondary phases of building. Maintenance electricians work as freelancers or for large factories, office buildings, or hospitals. "If you make it through the training, and spend a little time with someone good, you'll be all right," commented one electrician. Almost all electricians go through an academically rigorous apprenticeship program. Only people with a careful eye for details, responsible work habits, and sound on-the-spot judgment should consider becoming electricians. Electricians must know how to read blueprints and specifications and install, connect, and test electrical devices and power sources. They must be familiar with local and federal electrical codes and regulations. Those who succeed have a sound theoretical understanding of electrical systems and good manual dexterity and patience. While on-the-job injuries are not uncommon, electricians are seriously injured by electricity at half the rate of the general population, while taking ten times the amount of risk. Most of these injuries occur at the end of long hours, when being rushed to complete a task, or when blueprints have been incorrectly drawn. An important part of becoming a good electrician is knowing when it would be dangerous to proceed. Electricians are finding that their profession is becoming linked with those who do computer and telecommunications wiring. These systems are installed at the same time, and more often than not, new structures are wired for networks and telecommunications immediately. Over 15 percent of electricians take additional classes on telecommunications systems, wiring, and the electrical interfaces to do this work themselves.

Paying Your Dues (Major Employers)
Electricians work indoors and out, under both difficult and ordinary pressures, and are subjected to daily tests of mental acuity and physical dexterity. One of the few careers in this book that requires only a high school degree, electricians enjoy one of the higher-paid specialty-industry fields with a solid future, as America becomes more dependent on consistent and well-maintained supplies of electricity. Most people become electricians by entering an apprenticeship program through the sponsorship of an existing electrician. These programs are run by such unions as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers or the National Electrical Contractors Association. Most programs take four to five years to complete. Candidates must attend nearly 160 hours of classroom instruction per year, but the emphasis is on practical experience. Over 800 hours of practical training are provided annually. Aspiring electricians should be mature and responsible, and have strong mathematical skills and good physical dexterity and stamina. Most states have their own licensing exams that test knowledge of local regulations as well as information contained in the National Electrical Code, the national register of electrical regulations. Please note that color-blind people cannot become electricians, as all wiring is color-coded to avoid mistakes and injuries.

Associated Careers (Who You'll Work With)
Few electricians leave the field, unless work in a particular region becomes unavailable. Some of the 10 percent who do leave the profession each year are retirees. Some become electrical inspectors, enter teaching programs, or work as construction consultants specializing in secondary building systems. A few enter training programs to become contractors.

Past and Future (Major Associations)
In the 1900s, when electricity was developed, electricians were responsible for the wiring, testing, and constructing of every electrical system, groundline, and socket in the U.S. Electricians are in high demand these days, primarily for maintenance rather than construction. Outdated electrical systems need upgrading. As sources of electricity change over time, methods of delivery and capacity differentiation will require that the electrician engage in continuing education. With the population growing and the power usage rising, the demand for electricians should be steady for the next ten years. Current population-shift trends indicate that more work should be available in the South and Southwest than in the North and Northeast.

Quality of Life

Two Years Out:

Most training programs have progressed nearly halfway, and those who couldn't hack the academic rigor of these programs have been weeded out. At the two-year mark, the emphasis switches from classroom-based learning to practical considerations. Work is still highly supervised and tasks are limited to basic installation, testing, and maintenance. Blueprint-reading skills are developing. Wages are low for the industry, but many say this is not a problem "as you are learning a career."

Five Years Out:

Nearly everyone has finished the training program and is a certified electrician. Those who haven't yet passed state and federal requirements work as "electrician's assistants" while they study for them. Those who have passed these tests pursue work through local sponsoring guilds and unions; already employed electricians or general contractors who are hiring sub-contractors, a process which also goes through the local guild or union; or on-site maintenance contractors that may or may not go through the union. Local electrician unions are powerful forces in the electrician's working life; it is suggested that one join the local union as soon as possible after certification. Many electricians work odd but not exceptionally long hours.

Ten Years Out:

At ten years, an electrician has established himself as a valuable and capable player in the industry. Skills are excellent; a variety of unusual situations, such as remodeling entire buildings with outdated wiring, or meeting the demands of companies with unusual power needs, have been encountered and handled. Most have formed relationships in the industry, which, in the end, often replace formalized partnerships. While in many other industries a significant number of ten-year veterans form their own consulting companies, only around 20 percent of ten-year electricians do this. The hassles for private electrical contractors are many--insurance, liability, unhappy clients--and the pay as a freelance electrician working for individual contractors is good. A few of the teaching-inclined have gone back to the apprenticeship programs as instructors who work for slightly less pay but with more consistent and less taxing hours.

Career Profile

# of people in profession:


% male:


% female:


average hours per week:


average starting salary:

$ 21,000

average salary after 5 years:

$ 34,000

average salary after 10 to 15 years:

$ 40,000

Professionals Read:

Electrical Contractor, CEE, Electrical Construction and Maintenance

Book, Films and TV Shows Featuring the Profession:

The Innocent, Don't Touch Copper Wires

Major Employers:

Pacific Gas & Electric Companies
P.O. Box 770000
Mail Code N2F
San Francisco , CA 94177
Tel: 415-973-7000
Fax: 415-543-0841
Contact: Human Resources

Atlantic-Pacific Technologies
450 East 10th Street
Tracey , CA 95376
Tel: 800-323-4468
Fax: 209-836-9204
Contact: Vicky Clark

You'll Associate With:

Construction Managers, Electrical Engineers, Property Managers, Telecommunication Specialists

Major Associations:

Associated Builders and Contractors National
1300 North 17th Street
Rosslyn , VA 22209
Tel: 703-812-2000
Fax: 703-812-9195

Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc.
2010A Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria , VA 22314
Tel: 703-549-7351
Fax: 703-549-7448
Contact: Ike Casey

National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)
3 Bethesda Metro Center
Suite 1100
Bethesda , MD 20814
Tel: 301-657-3110
Fax: 301-215-4500
Contact: John Grau




Follow these text links to find information of interest to you:

Frequently Asked Questions

There are standard questions about becoming an electrician  which are often directed to me here at

I have tried to answer each question to the best of my ability. Here are several answers to questions which seem to be often asked:

What is a good age to start as an electrician?

Well, the best time to start any occupation is when your interest is the greatest. If you are a high school student and are thinking about becoming an electrician, ask to see if there might be a vocational education course available at your high school. The same is true for community college. In many municipalities there are adult education courses which might be of use. Certainly if you are older, meaning over forty, say, then entering a new occupation is certainly difficult. The beginning pay is typically low since you don't have the ability to produce enough work to warrant a higher wage. Due to insurance requirements there will be a minimum age where you can be exposed to power tools in the work environment. But the very best time to start doing electrical work for an occupation is right after high school.

Is the occupational area open to men and women?

Certainly. I know a few women who are electricians and they do quite well. The occupational area has many aspects which might be better suited to women than to men. The job working conditions might not be pleasant, or even comfortable. But equal work for equal pay means equal opportunity to working conditions.

What physical abilities are required?

Since the occupational area has so many facets, there is no real good answer to this question. Generally an electrician must be able to use ladders, shovels, power tools and hand tools. An electrician typically carries heavy loads, lifts heavy objects, and must have endurance to work for two hours at a hurried pace without a break.

What mental ability is needed?

Doing electrician work is not brain surgery. But an electrician must have the ability to make ordinary mathematical calculations, read instructions in English, and speak the English language with ease. Beyond that, everything is learned that is needed.

What attitude would be best for an electrician?

An electrician must be able to follow directions and be self directed for long periods of time without supervision. So the best attitude is that of wanting to do a good job. Anyone who wants to do a good job will fit in really well as an electrician.

What about substance abuse?

From the question you can tell that I feel strongly about the abuse of various substances, For me to say what I will, let me tell you that the only substances which I abuse are white sugar, white flour, dairy products, chocolate, and red meat. These substances, I have been told by health food types, are really bad for me. Well, I do not smoke (never did), I do not drink alcohol (never did save wine in a glass twice and a sip of a screwdriver once), and I have never taken drugs other than prescribed by a physician. I don't thing anyone who smokes, drinks or does drugs has any place in the electrical career area. But let's get real. Everyone has the ability to do what they want on this planet. I just don't think anyone should be taking substances which alter their ability to think clearly.

Do I need a mechanical ability?

Yep. No two ways about it. Electricians must have the ability to see through a situation and come up with a way to get done what must get done. Anyone with all thumbs should not bother getting near the occupation. If you are a person who likes to work with tools, that is a very good sign. If you own tools, that is even better. And if you really like going to Sears (like Tim Taylor on Tool Time ABC TV) they you are particularly well suited to a mechanical occupation like doing electrical work.

What character traits are essential to be an electrician?

Well the Boy Scout stuff is just right.
<<Trustworthy, because you will often work in the businesses and homes of customers with valuable objects laying all around.

<<Reliable, because when a job has to be done, and you are a member of the team doing the job, then you must be where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. If 7:30 in the morning is just too early for you, then get a job in retail where you show up at 10am. The construction industry often begins before eight am. And maintenance electricians often work on shifts. The time clock waits for no one. Car problems are acceptable as an excuse for not showing up occasionally. But not often.

<<Brave, yes that too. Sometimes the work takes a person well above or below the ground. Sometimes scaffolding is used. Attics are often the work environment for a hour in a day. And basements can get to be really foul places to work. Expect to spend much time in closets, crawl spaces, garages, attics, basements, and on ladders.

<<Clean, well you will get dirty. Really dirty. Often. Then the next day you will need to be back at work in clean clothes and a clean body. The beginners in any occupation get the dirty work. Expect to get your hands filthy, hair full of cement dust, and clothes soaked with sweat. This is not an occupational area for anyone who expects to look good and smell good all day. I come home from work and stop at the washer. My clothes go in. I go in the shower. All before I go into the house.

How important is apprenticeship?

Very. If you are beginning to work as an electrician, you should try to start with a company that can offer you a formal apprenticeship program. This amounts to two nights of school each week during the school year.  There is a specific program of instruction which is followed to present you with the related instruction which supports what you learn on the job. Do not miss classes. Do all your homework. Stick with it. And you will be on the career path to greater responsibility, compensation, satisfaction, and personal fulfillment.

If you happen to live in an area where formal apprenticeship training is not available, then you might want to consider the online audio tutorial workbook supported program I offer here at Click HERE to read about it.

How about the need for mathematics?

If you are reluctant to consider an electrical career because you cringe when you hear words like algebra and trigonometry, listen up. The mathematics required to master for a career as an electrician is minimal. You do need basic math skills to include addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. And skill with a tape measure is essential. Lastly, skill in the use of a handheld calculator is necessary.

But what about the need for algebra, you ask? Well, the only algebra an electrician needs is what is called substitution algebra. That's where you use a formula to find a value you need. The given information is substituted into the formula and the answer pops out after you do the calculations. It's kind of like making chocolate chip cookies. You follow the formula on the package and you get cookies.

Trigonometry is also substitution algebra for an electrician. You use a formula to find a value you need. The given information is substituted into a formula. The answer pops out.

So, there are a couple calculation techniques to master. But nothing beyond ordinary with practice. No rocket science math. Really. I encourage you to not let the math aspects of the trade get in the way of what is a great occupation.

David U.

Here are a few books which may be of interest to you. Click on the cover to go to where you can get more details and even order with a credit card:



I saw your site on the Web and wanted to ask you a quick question. I have never been involved in any of the trades, or any ancillary vocations,  but am interested in becoming an electrician. What do you recommend to  people without any experience who are just looking to get started in the  trade? If don't know if it's relevant, but I live in the Chicago area.


Here with a collection of lines that I will add to my internet site, eventually. I ran through a few general aspects which might be of interest to you. Thanks for your question. I used it as an excuse to unwind from a difficult day doing electrical work. In addition, I think you should follow the links you will find at   Be sure to ask follow up questions. Since you are a college graduate, you might go to a great source for career guidance. Get the book What color is your parachute? by Bolles in the library or at a local books store. It is great. As to full time or part time, why not consider Habitat For Humanity as a volunteer for a day or two just to get an idea of what you are getting in to. Also talk to anyone you or your family knows who does electrical work. There are great career opportunities at the public utilities to also consider. Cheers:>)


Sir  I am a veteran who is currently in school (community college). I am trying to   get my math skills up to par in order to take the electrical apprenticeship   examination. Could you tell me of any books that I might be able to study in   order to help my math skills? Any suggestions that you could offer would be   appreciated.


I do not know what sort of math skills the pre-test for apprenticeship are included on the exam that you will take. But typically you will need the following: addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication of whole numbers
addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication of decimal numbers
addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication of fraction numbers
knowledge of substitution algebra.
There are millions of books which can help you with these skills. Any high school math book will take you through these calculations. Do not seek a book for electricians in this connection. You are trying to master the basic math skills that everyone needs to master. So everyone needs the same book. Go to any used book store. Go to a thrift shop. Ask any of your instructors at the college, They often get books for free to review that gather dust on the shelf. Let them take an interest in your success. Typically teachers love to help anyone who shows an interest. You might also call your local high school for help in this connection. Further, Adult basic education is typically free and is just what you need. Call your local community school. Cheers:>)


My nephew is entering the field of electrician.  He has enrolled in an apprentice electrician course at our local college.  Unfortunately this is not the first semester of their education and he is confused and behind.  What suggestions do you have for study aids for him?  He is also working in the trade.

Are there schools that one can attend full time or is it all work based training?


Howdy. His apprenticeship instructor can best answer your question.

Aside from that, he can ask for an outline of the subject material he missed. Then he can hook up with another student in the same class to help him. Or he can get someone in an advanced year to help him. I firmly believe fellow students are the best instructors after a course of instruction is established by a competent instructor. I presume he has a copy of the 1999 NEC, a good theory text book, a good calculator, and a good math book. At my site there are textbook recommendations for all of these areas. But he probably has books from class.

My site is not for beginners. It is for a person who has at least four years in the trade and wants to get ready to take a license exam. One aspect that would certainly be a great place for your nephew to spend time at is on the list of words given in technical literacy for apprentices.. There are 1000+ words that I feel every apprentice should know or be working on. You can print the list free of charge. There is a list on my directory page. None of the other materials at my site are appropriate.

To answer your last question, I don't think a classroom training program is the way to learn a blue collar occupation. On-the-job training has flaws but until something better comes along, that is the place to be. And participation in apprenticeship is FANTASTIC. Help him stay there at all costs.



Boy, I hate to sound like a complete idiot...but here goes.
I am interested in becoming an electrician. I understand I need to become
an  apprentice electrician first, and that I will learn on the job, and take
courses toward my journeyman license. I have to complete some
form  of courses in order to become an apprentice? Is there some licensing test
required to become an apprentice? Or do I simply start hunting for
someone  to hire me on as an apprentice? please help me out on this, as I am very
confused. Thanks so much.


Depending on your age and education, there may be things for you to do
before signing on as an apprentice electrician.

For example:
If you are still in high school, be sure to take all the math courses you
can, English language skills, physics, algebra, and physical education
including cross country running, wrestling, and track long distance
running. Doing electrical work requires endurance.

If you are 20-25 years old, dig out an arithmetic book and an algebra book.
Brush up. Get a good dictionary and start to work on the apprentice
technical literacy list which is at And start
going to the gym for workouts of the legs and upper body. Start a running
program for endurance.

If you are 25-30, reconsider. The occupation of electrician is a physically
demanding one. By the time you are licensed, you will be 30. But those five
years, perhaps four, will be difficult due to the physical aspects. And
also all beginners get the hardest jobs do be prepared to be used.

If you are over 30, think of something else to do. By the time you get to
license level, you will only have 20 years to cash in. That is if you would
even last those five years.

All this sounds harsh. But I am a 56 year old male in relatively good
physical condition and I am having a hard time keeping up with the physical
demands of the occupation. I have several electrician friends who are in
their forties and are thinking of getting out of the business of doing the
work due to physical reasons.

Being an electrician is a thing for young workers. After 40 or so, everyone
is looking for something else to do.

So if you want to be an electrician as a starter occupation, keep in mind
that it will not last. You will either have to move into supervision,
management, or own your own business and hire younger workers. Then there
is electrical maintenance which does not require as much physical strength
and stamina.

Have you read the book, What Color Is Your Parachute? by Bolles?
Give it a look.

Ask other specific questions and I will respond. Cheers:>) David U.


I am 20 years old and have started to pursue the idea of becoming an electrician.  I live along the west coast in Oregon and I am not quite sure how to get started.  A local electrician told my dad that as of last year, people who want to be an apprentice must put there name on a waiting list.  Employers come and take the person first on the list and then you begin the process of becoming an apprentice.  Do you know anything  about this?  I guess I just don't know how to get started.  How long does it usually take to become a journeyman electrician after you first start?  How much do apprentices get paid?  Your web site was very cool!!  Thanks for any inf.


Becoming an electrician isn't the worst thing that you could do at 20. I was unable to start the trade until I was 23 because I spent four years in the military avoiding the draft. There was something about being in the army that didn't appeal to me. So I enlisted in the Air Force. Nothing wrong with the military for a few years to give a guy time to gain maturity. 

Now on to apprenticeship. First, you have to analyze your chances of getting into an apprenticeship. Contact  electrical contractors from the yellow pages and ask them the same questions you asked me. You see, everything you asked is specific to a geographic location.

Here where I live in Florida there are advertisements in the newspaper every day seeking electricians. Not just experienced, but even beginners. Where you are, there may not be as many chances to get started. 

Then go on to read the information that I included at the beginner site at electricianeducation. Reading about becoming an electrician or becoming anything is important before you leap. Then make sure you have a library card. Get the book entitled "What color is your parachute?" by Bolles. This is an excellent book for anyone thinking about career decisions.


About the waiting list: This might be with the IBEW which is the union organization. There may be other types of organizations that seek apprentices. Go to a phone booth with a bunch of coins. Call every contractor in the book under electrical contractor. Hang up quick if they seem nasty. Eventually you will find a company that will be interested in you if you are interested in them. Winter isn't the best time to start the electrical trade up north because most building where helpers/apprentices would work are past the stage where apprentices are needed.  So be aware that at your age, there is a lot that you can do to get ready when and if there ever is a job opening in the electrical trade for you. Make sure you have a high school diploma, make sure you are currently attending some higher education like community college, or even college. Taking a course every semester might be a great way to pass the time and perhaps even show you a better/different path.

I didn't know what I wanted to do when I was 20. I still am not sure. I continue to evaluate how I can participate in our society to be able to grow and provide for my family. Best of luck to you. And if you decide that you really are interested in becoming an electrician, then start getting ready by reading a good electricity book like Electricity One-Seven and buying a copy of the National Electrical Code. You will not understand much of it to start with. But that is true of any book. You may want to wait until 2001 when the next edition comes out.  Further, the library has any number of books on the subject. Also volunteer to help out friends and family who might know something about this so you can get some hands on experience.


I am a 22 year old young man. I have 2 years in Industrial electricity from Vocational school and have an Associates degree in Industrial Electronics. I am an Industrial electrician and have been since I have graduated from college. I like Industrial work, but my true passion is residential wiring because of the feeling of being on the outside.

In the plants, I go in it is dark and come out it is dark. I have wired several houses on the side and love it. I love being my own boss and because of this I have pride in my work. I need to get my residential state license and am looking for you for help. In college I took the NEC course that was offered and got a lot from it. Do you have a workbook package that would get me ready for the exam? I would be very excited to hear from you


The first place to start is with the building department where you want to be licensed. They will tell you the requirements as to work experience. They will also explain the licensing procedures. This is the most important step. It is much like checking a map before a trip.


Then go on to buy a 2002 NEC. Be sure to get the loose leaf type. Start reading. The Journeyman test is typically the first three chapters plus a few other articles like 680 and 430. 

Go to and take the diagnostic exam. Tell me how you did on this exam. Then send another email and I will respond based on your competency. Cheers:>)

I am retiring from the US Navy in August of 2000, having served 20 years
as an Electrician's Mate.  I am curious to know what training and
certification I would have to acquire to receive a journeyman's license in
the state of Ohio.  If you can help me in anyway I would appreciate your

If the work which you did was installed in accordance with the National
Electrical Code in structures, then simply contact the building department
for the municipality where you hope to be licensed. They will give you
information about the examination. Make sure that you start studying the
1999NEC since that is what your exam will be based on. Select materials I
offer to begin self study toward your goal.

On the other hand, if the work that you did was exclusively on ships, then I
do not see where you can simply be tested and get a license since you do not
have the work experience necessary to be given an examination based on the
NEC. So the question you ask depends on the type of work that you have been

There is a huge book which is available entitled something
like ------evaluating experiential learning for training by the US military.
That book will tell you the credit you can be given toward college depending
on the schools you attended. Check out that book as well.

I would think you are probably at least 38 years old. In that case I do not
recommend that you consider electrical construction wiring of structures
since the work is extremely physically demanding and although you might be
easily able to do that sort of thing now, what about in another five years?

No, there is something better I might suggest. Get the book "What color is
your parachute?" by Bolles and go through it from front to back. If you do
not have the attention this book requires, then you will end up where ever
destiny and fate causes you to end up. On the other hand, and this I firmly
believe, if you will take the time to get interested in your future, the sky
is the limit. This book will help you decide what you want to do when you
grow up. (Something none of us finally decides including me. We all are
refining our goal.)

There are many occupations open to technically minded people these days. You
might consider copy machine or computer repair. Forget for now that you
don't know how to do this work. You can easily learn. I am sure you will
have educational benefits open to you for retraining. So build on what you
have done.

If I were you, the first thing I would do is get the parachute book, lay
down on the floor with it, put my feet up so the blood rushed to my head
where I need all I can get to think, and read on.


I am a high school student who is interested in becoming an 
electrician.  Which workbooks from your website would you recommend for 
someone with no experience.


None of my materials are suitable for you at this time.

During high school you can try to find someone to work with for a few hours once a week or so to see if you like the work Start getting familiar with hand and power tools. Get a tool box. Start buying hand tools. Learn how to hammer, and how to dig. But as far as getting into the technical aspects, I wouldn't bother with my electrician education stuff just yet.

Instead, be sure to take algebra, geometry and trigonometry, public speaking, English composition, physics, general science, and some athletics like cross country, wrestling, track, etc., now in high school. And try to go right on to community college while entering the electrical field. The future jobs will not go to just anyone. Education will matter then as it does now. Join a few clubs about things you have an interest in.

Go to the dances and have fun. Life is too short to miss being a kid. There is such a thing as getting too serious too soon in life.


If you are still interested in being an electrician when you are a senior, then get out the yellow pages telephone book and call electrical contractors in your area. Tell them that you are interested in becoming an electrician. See if anyone will get you started. If not in your area, do like I did and move. I in fact went to the far reaches of Upper Michigan to get my start because no one where I lived had any openings.

I am an electrician and I like being an electrician. I like tools and I like to make things work. And I like helping others get better at being an electrician. The materials I have for sale at my site are for people who have been working as an electrician for at least four years. This is not you yet.

One thing you can do for free from my site is to print out the list of definitions for an apprentice electrician and start working on them. That will be good for you regardless of what you eventually do. Click on technical literacy list on the directory page. That will get you there. And learn how to use a good calculator like a Texas Instruments TI-30 at $14.

Lastly, I would suggest you do a lot of reading of science books. Read about Edison, Tesla, Steinmetz, Bell, Westinghouse, and all the other people mentioned  on my historical literacy list. It is at

And be sure to ask me and any other electricians you encounter other questions as they come to you. I don't have many answers. But I have a few to spare from time to time. 

Cheers:>) David U.

My son is doing a career paper for his English class at school.  He is
an 8th grader and is VERY interested in becoming an electrician.  We
have searched and searched and are having trouble finding the
information he needs.  Could you please help with either book titles or
web sites that contain the following information:
1.  Education needed to become an electrician
2.  Salary range of an electrician
3.  day to day duties of an electrician.
The paper is due on December 13th, and we are running out of time. 
Please help, or refer us to someone who can help.  Any information you
can provide will be beneficial as we are new to the internet and really
don't know much about the "surfing" thing.



Go to  where you will find links and details on the answer to your question.


I found your site very interesting and plan to visit it again.  My question
for you, is do you have any rules or helpful hints when bending pipe.  It
is  very confusing for me being an apprentice of only 4 days.  I'm having a
hard time visualizing bends.  Just wondering if you could offer any helpful
hints.  I thank you in advance for taking the time to read and respond to
this message

There are many educational items that are excellent. Buy a book. Then take
home scrap pipe from a job when you can. Practice on the scrap.

Check this out: from
The art of Conduit Bending
Conduit Bending or it may be more proper to call it the curving of tubing.
The most popular raceway is the electrical metallic tubing, better known as
thin-wall or EMT.

To make bends is to turn or force from straight to curve or angular. If
conduit is bend at a sharp angle to where the conduit is kinked it then
makes the pulling of the wire more difficult.

To curve is to have or to take a turn, change or deviation from a straight
line without sharp breaks or angularity.

The quality of one's work can not always be judged as it may be covered by
walls, ceilings, etc. but exposed conduit work is there for all to see.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist or trigonometric major to bend

The only way you will actually learn how to bend conduit is by actually
doing it. Actual; experience soon makes this operation simple and routine.

The student will not realize the full value of the information unless he
reinforces his study with a reasonable amount of practical work.

I am trying to find out any opportunities for a few friends to enter
into the "Electrician" field.  What are the fastest ways to get
started?  They are both "sound men" for musical productions and show
some promise.  I am willing to put up some money for schooling.  Are
there any programs out there that include work w/ pay?

Thank you for your time and effort


The term "electrician" as I use it is a person who installs wiring for power
and lighting in structures. A person who is an electrician for theatrical
productions would not use the National Electrical Code so what I offer would
be of no help. I would suggest investigating an electronics program for the
basics of electricity.

Electricians like I am drill holes in wood, pull wire, bend pipe, and dig
for underground supply lines. We typically work on unfinished buildings, or
buildings undergoing a remodel. We rarely work with equipment and certainly
do not work with sound or stage equipment as a typical activity.



I would like to attend a school to become an electrician. Do you know of any schools that offer electrician training?


Yep. At the after high school post secondary level there is a huge program in Los Angels California. Click for a look at an intense program with a faculty of 29! The program even leads to an A.S. Degree.


I am 25 years old and presently working in an aluminum smelter in Washington state. I was recently notified that there would be a major layoff in June, but our Union would probably be offering a schooling program for all of the displaced workers. The program will cover 2 years of schooling while still collecting unemployment benefits. I have always wanted to be an electrician. Do you think this is a good route to take? And if so, what do I need to do for schooling.



There is a critical shortage of skilled electricians today and it will get worse as all us gray haired guys from the 60's drop out of the labor force. 25 is a good age to get into something great.

 I don't know if you would be better off at the technical level of the electrical occupations area or the manual skills area. That depends on your motivation and physical condition.

 Two years of education WHILE WORKING as an electrician is the only way to go if you are aiming toward the skilled labor direction. Full time schooling with no work experience is better for the technical levels.

 Be sure to aim for an associates degree which is matched to some BS degree. Credentials aren't the only thing to have. But having credentials is better than not. If you know this is coming, get right into an adult reading and math improvement program or enroll in some sort of educational program right away to get a head start.

 And check out the book from the library What Color is your Parachute? By Bolles.



I am having problems with understanding circuits, I have problems with lighting branch circuits.  also, I have some trouble with box fill and combination circuits... am sorry for the delay on responding to you, my girlfriends computer I have limited time to use thank you for responding. 

thank you!!!!!



When there are as many areas where you need a hand as you seem to indicate, you are correct that a tutor is just what you need. Here's how you get help"

 1. Ask your apprentice instructor to suggest some one that can help you.

 2. Ask your employer if he knows anyone.

 3. Ask the people you work with to help you.

 4. Ask your family and friends for help.

 5. Ask your girlfriend to help.

 The details which you are now mastering will turn out to be the foundation upon which all the remaining apprenticeship material will be based. If you are unable to grasp what you are assigned this year, then consider repeating the same material next year. Take the time between now and then to get straight with what you need to master.

 I hope you have the book Electricity One-Seven by Mileaf. It is great for circuits. Series, Parallel, and Combination. Memorize the four equations for series, four for parallel, and remember for combination that ohms/watts works for each separate component in the circuit as well as for the total circuit. Series aspects are treated separately from parallel aspects. Kichoffs current that enters a point equals the current that leaves a point, the whole equals the sum of its parts, and the P aspects are the only column that add up to the total should help.

 Lighting circuits is not enough for me to go on to give info.

 Box fill requires that you memorize the cubic inches for wire sizes then learn the special rules. I wonder if you have memorized the cubic inches for 14 through 6? That would help. Make flash cards if you need them.

 If you have a specific question, ask away. The workbooks which I sell are great for intense repetition in all these areas. Series, parallel and combination are all in workbook #402. Box fill in workbook #404  See them at

Cheers:>) David U. Larson

Hi. I am a 21 year old male from Milwaukee WI.  I am very interested in
getting into an electrical apprenticeship.  I was wondering what is the best
way to get into a non-union electrical apprenticeship when their are no ad's
for posted job openings that I can find.  If you can help me please write me.


If you expect to continue to live in Milwaukee and not move to another
place, here is what I would do:

Get a map of the metropolitan area of your town. Go to the County Office for
Contractors. Make a list of all the contractors that are licensed. Find and
circle their address on the map. Put a point on the map where you live. Then
draw circles outward. Who ever has a shop nearest where you live is who you
call first. You simply call and ask if they are looking for helpers who want
to become an electrician and are they taking applications. When they say no,
go to the next name. Then you move on outward until you find work. Someone
some where out there needs help. Do not use the yellow pages. Most
electrical contractors advertise there but not all. But all are licensed
with the county. That's why you get a list from the county.

It would also help if you had some experience doing electrical work.
Consider participating in Habitat for Humanity. Tell them you will help with
electrical stuff. There you might meet someone. Go to the library and get a
book or two on house wiring. Then scrape together tools like a nail apron,
tool belt, hack saw, hammer, tape measure, pencil, wire strippers, diagonal
cutting pliers, channel locks, side cutting pliers, and on and on.

Further, it would not hurt to dust off your math book from high school
algebra. Get back into formulas. Practice with your calculator. Read into
the 1999 edition of the National Electrical Code Chapters 100, 200, and 300.
Not much of it will mean much. But anything is better than nothing. Be sure
you have copies of your high school diploma, or GED, and or college
transcripts. Type up a resume with your details. Make copies. Not many. But
a few. Start passing them out. Where you write about career objectives, note
that you are working to get a job as an electrical apprentice, List any
mechanical work experience you have had as well as hobbies that might
demonstrate mechanical skill.

Next, put out the word to all your family and friends. Tell them what you
want to do.

Then you wait.

If my memory serves me correctly, Milwaukee is a bitch this time of year.
There really isn't much happening in the way of construction. Perhaps you
can get on a remodel. When spring breaks, the jobs will be more available.
If you come down to Florida, there are always fifty advertisements in the
paper for electricians and helpers in West Palm Beach. The temperature here
today was 65.

I broke into the trade in Upper Michigan and Marinette Wisconsin. I was also
licensed in Green Bay. I wouldn't advise going that direction. Burr.

Hey, best of luck, eh?
Cheers:>) David U. Larson


Dear Sir,
         I am a Irish national who will be hopefully starting work in
Florida  in October and I am looking to obtain information on how to go about
sitting exams to obtain a journeyman's cert in the U.S. I would be grateful if you could mail me back with some information on this.

Thank you.


I am sorry to hear that you find it necessary to have to leave your
to find work in the USA. I'm even sorry I had to move from my home in
Michigan to Florida so a change in countries must really be difficult. At
least there will only be a slight language problem to overcome. I often
think of my grand parents, all who came from either Sweden or Italy to the
USA in the late 1800's. They didn't even speak English and left their
homeland to come to the USA. That had to be difficult.

And this is the beginning of my response. You will need to improve your
vocabulary of electrical technical terms to get ready to pass an
here in the USA. Any good theory book coupled with a copy of the 1999 (most
recent-they put a new one out every three years) National Electrical Code
(USA) will get you started. You will need a good dictionary. The American
Heritage is my favorite.

Depending on your background in mathematics, you might need work there too.

All this you can do. But one thing which you can not do so fast is to
accumulate the work experience for a licensed electrical contractor in less
than four years. Typically in order to take the license examination to
become a Journeyman Electrician you will need to demonstrate on paper that
you have amassed at least four years working on electrical stuff for a
licensed electrical contractor (in the USA). Depending on the licensing
department where you will work, this can vary.

You can determine this requirement by contacting the licensing department
where you intend to work. If you know where that is, tell me and I will
give you their address. Then you can send them an inquiry.

No big deal. The newspapers are filled with job opportunities for
electricians of all types. Not just ones with licenses. If you have good
mechanical skills and are strong with a good work history, you will easily
find work in Southeastern or Central Florida. The pay may vary from $8 to
$12 per hour at the start. Many competent workers prefer working by the job
(piece work) and can make what ever their skill and speed might produce.
(This could be as much as $16 per hour).

As far as what else to work on, well the NEC is difficult enough without
anything else. I would not think additional study prior to arriving would
be needed. You could perhaps better spend the time with your family and
friends who you will be leaving shortly.

As specific questions arise, you are encouraged to send them to me. I might
have answers. Not answers that you like, perhaps, but then consider what
you are paying for them.


Question: How do I become an electrician?

I get this question all the time. Again, here is the best suggestion I can offer:



Get out the telephone book. Turn to the yellow pages. Go to electrical contractor. Start with the A's. Call every electrical contractor that has a listing in the book. Ask them if they are looking for green beginners. Tell them you would like to participate in apprenticeship. If they will hire you and sponsor you in apprenticeship classes nights, that is where you start working. Many contractors are looking for beginners. You just have to find the one that will hire you now. Try also to find one near where you live, if there are many who are looking for beginners.

 A year off after school, eh? That was the time to be doing all this looking. I would forget the college stuff for now. If you want to be an electrician, apprenticeship is the way to do that. I do not live in your town so I can not suggest a company. Call them all.

 Also, you can go to the employment office for your state and ask them if they have any listings for electrical apprentices. That might work, too. You need to be quick about this since apprenticeship school starts this month, too, in most places.

One suggestion based on your note to me: Go to adult basic education classes at the high school or college to improve your ability in reading and math. Most young people need more work in these areas than they get or want. Well, if you ever are to be a good electrician, you will need to read well and do quite a bit of math. 



Thank you for your site.  It's been a lot of help.  However I do have one question that I feel only someone such as yourself could answer.  I live in a rural area with only one local electrician who is about to retire and so isn't able to help me.  Where is the best place for me to get a formal electrician education, seeing how our local vocational schools and community colleges no longer offer this program of study?.  Is it possible to study at home and then apprentice?  If you could just turn me in the right direction I could go from there.



You will not like my version of what I see as the truth. But here it is:

No amount of schooling will prepare you to be a successful electrician without on the job training. Most full time school programs are staffed by people who never did the work which the course is about. They are unable to teach the skills needed to do the work since they have never done the work. So schooling without work experience is pitiful. Avoid home schooling through mail order courses like the plague.

 What's left? Grit your teeth and move to a location where you can get work experience while participation in a formal apprentice program. See, I told you you wouldn't like what I have to say. You don't want to move. You then have to change your mind to either move away for a while you train, or change your mind and become something else for an occupation.

 You can always move back after getting your education. This is what a dentist would do in your area. This is what a school teacher would do in your area. Why not you? There is also the military training system which would be great.

 Go to your library and get the book Parachute by Bolles. Details at  

 Work through that book and then you will have a better idea on how to proceed.



 My name is Greg and I just turned 25 years old.  I'm thinking of
 entering the electrical field and discovered there is also a
 voice/data/video apprenticeship available through my local IBEW.  I
 originally thought of becoming an electrician but somehow the VDV field
 appeals to me as I am computer savvy and have a little networking
 knowledge also.  When I called the training director in my area he
 informed me that work in this area was "slow" right now.  I read on your
 page that some electricians learn this type of knowledge of the side
 (voice/data) to do additional work.  My question is am I limiting myself
 by learning only this side of the electrical field?  The VDV apprentice
 program is only 3 years versus 5 for the electrician but the wages are a
 lot lower.  However being only 25, I can only imagine in the future the
 need for workers in the VDV industry are only going to get bigger but at
 the same time you hear the news all these telecom companies laying off
 thousands of employees (like Verizon).  I was thinking of  doing the VDV
 apprenticeship and continuing on to learn computer networking and
 possibly get into network engineering of something of that nature.  Then
 again I think when was the last time I heard of a mass electrician
 layoff...  As you can see I'm totally confused.  Any information or
 wisdom you might have would be appreciated.  Thank you for your time...



Have you gone through the frequently asked questions at ?

Have you gone through the book What Color Is Your Parachute? This book forces you to confront the very issues which you seem conflicted about. I strongly recommend it. I am sure it is at your library. More at

As far as the future for electricians in the job market, you seem just right for the future. A good place to be.

The trades are currently having a large influx of foreign workers since most competent people want a job with computers. Yet someone must install the systems. Pipe and wire will be around for a long time. If you want to be an electrician, I can't think of a better time to break into the trade. There is a huge demand. Sure, in your area, through one labor organization there might not be a job. But investigate all the possibilities before giving up.

But what is good is that you also have familiarity with the ei stuff. Electricians are moving into data transmission systems, fiber optics, smart wiring, you name it. These installations will take someone who isn't afraid. That might be you.

If you can connect with an apprenticeship program where you work on the job and take related instruction on the side, that is the very best. Not working and taking training without on the job experience is pitiful.

Work is only slow in certain places. If you are anchored to where you currently live, then find a job doing what is available in your town. If you want to be a(n) ___(fill in the blank), then you might need to go away for training to a place that has openings in what you want to do.

If someone wants to be a dentist in your town, is there a school? Probably not. So that person has to go away for training. Why not you? Sure, moving is a chore. But what we are talking about here is what you really want to do. Or do you know?

In the matter of career selection, keep in mind that what ever you select, it will last only on average seven years. Then you will change. You will specialize. You will have to. Your age and location will mandate that change.

Try not to be paralyzed with overchoice. Just do the right thing which you feel right now. Then when the times change, you will change too

Factually 25 is just about too old to get into the trenches and dig ditches, bend pipe, and pull wire. That's what all the beginners have to do to get started. Not yet. But 29 sure is.

New! Here is information about a book which I have just completed that will provide expanded information to what is given on this page. It is available for $25 postpaid to any address in the USA.

Electrician Beginner Workbook
is a 130+ page guide to entry into the electrician career field as well as an aid to succeeding as a person begins related instruction. The workbook provides practice problems which might be on a pre-apprentice examination as well as 1400+ other practice problems.
Over 1000 surfers on the internet visit this specific web page every month. I could only offer general advice and some frequently asked questions in the past. Until now!
But the good news is that now I have a tremendous workbook written just for people who are thinking about becoming an electrician. Priced at $25, it is affordable to anyone. If you buy the item, look it over and do not like it, I will give you a full refund including the postage to return it to me. How can you loose?
There are 130+ pages of inside information including background, tips, insight, practice exam questions and much much more.
All for $25 postpaid. Now I am sure there are many people reading this who always resist spending money for something they see on the internet fearing a rip-off.  Well, in this case, of you pass on this item and it really seems interesting to you, then you are missing out on something fantastic. If you're serious about investigating the electrician career field, this workbook is for you.
Here's the deal. You can get quite a bit of information about this workbook which will help you decide if you want to send off a money order, check, or online payment. And you get the workbook. If you do not like it, I will give you all your money back plus postage to return it provided you return it in the same condition you receive it.
I have spent hundreds of hours just getting this workbook ready, not to mention the hours of preparing the online support for the workbook.
How about buying a copy to see what it is all about? Overcome your resistance. I have a great online reputation. Check out my feedback reputation on eBay, the large auction site. Click HERE to see my feedback comments about other items I sell on eBay.

Sincerely, David U. Larson  author