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Which Electrical Apprenticeship Program is right for you?

Last updated on April 15th, 2016 at 01:38 pm.

If you’re looking for a change in careers then choosing the right electrical apprenticeship program is very important. Electrical apprenticeships are a great way for you to earn as you learn, but getting into an apprenticeship may have its challenges.

For starters, you first need to know about which training program you’re interesting in joining.

Do yourself a favor and and don’t rush into a decision. You should understand fully what each program offers and how it can benefit you.

Here’s a review of electrical apprenticeship programs offered by the IBEW and IEC. Not every apprenticeship offers all the programs – they may just focus on one.

IBEW Electrical Apprenticeship Programs

Inside Wireman Apprenticeship – 5-Year  Program

The inside wireman works on any multi-family dwelling (apartments), commercial, or industrial buildings. Apprentices work under the direct supervision of a licensed journeyman wireman.

An inside wireman, also known as a journeyman electrician installs electrical distributions centers, panel boards, side panels, conduit systems, motor controls, lighting, fire alarms, generators, and temporary wiring.

Students will receive training in:

  • AC and DC theory
  • Electrical systems
  • Wiring methods
  • Conduit bending
  • Transformers
  • Generators
  • Motors and controls

Apprentices will receive a minimum of 200 hours of classroom instruction per year. Plus, additional credits are approved Associate Degree classes may be completed prior to graduation.

Residential Trainee – 2-Year Program

The trainee works under the direct supervision of a residential wireman. This type of work pertains to wiring of homes and small apartment houses under three stories which includes electrical service, installation of romex and boxes, hook-up of ranges and other major appliances, receptacles, switches, lighting, electrical heat, heat pumps, etc. All trainees must attend a minimum of 200 hours of related classroom instruction per year.

Sound and Communication – 3-Year Program

A sound and comm technician installs, tests, maintains, and repairs low-voltage systems in commercial and industrial areas. This apprenticeship program is a three years long with over 400 hours of classroom, lab with hands-on training, and over 4,000 hours of on-the-job training.

Some programs also offer college credit that counts towards an associate degree from local community colleges as well.

Apprentices work under a licensed or certified Sound and Communication Technician. Some of the low voltage systems technicians work with are:

  • Fiber Optic Networks
  • Security Installations
  • Voice Data Video Technology
  • Audio/Video Systems
  • Fire and Life Safety Systems

First year apprentices study topics such as: OSHA safety, structured cabling, telecommunications, basic cabling, fiber optics, the metric system, the National Electric Code, DC theory, wiring devices, instruments, and electrical industry terms.

The second year and third year classes include AC theory, fire alarm systems, grounding and bonding, wiring methods, communication circuits, security systems, audio and video theory, closed circuit television, and fire and life safety systems.

IEC Electrical Apprenticeship Programs


All apprenticeship programs that cater to the electrical trade have a few basic requirements.

The first being that you must be at least 18 years old. If you haven’t met this basic requirement then now is the time research more about the trade you’re interested in joining.

electrical apprenticeship programAll apprenticeship programs require that you have have either a high school diploma or a GED. If you don’t have your high school diploma then you’ll need to look at obtaining your GED.

There are online resources that help you prepare for taking your GED exam. But be wary of online exams that claim to offer GED certificates. Many of these offer fake credentials upon completion and only take advantage of your willingness to pay.

You’ll need to search for testing centers in your area. Contact your local community college for more information.

If you’re looking to join an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) apprenticeship program, they have an additional requirement. Successful completion of high school algebra or post high school algebra course is required to join their apprenticeship. For more information about the IBEW apprenticeship program click here.

The International Electrical Contractors (IEC) apprenticeship does not have the algebra requirement listed under their basic requirements. However, they do require that you take a math placement test before joining. To help prepare yourself check out the Khan Academy’s algebra 1 course to help brush up on your skills. For more information about the IEC apprenticeship program click here.



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