What Is an Electrical Apprenticeship? (The Ultimate Guide)
Apprenticeships are necessary to become an electrician. The programs provide practical training that develops the main technical and soft skills required to perform professional duties correctly and safely. If you're interested in applying for an apprenticeship to become an electrician, understanding what this may entail can help you prepare accordingly. In this article, we explain these apprenticeships, explore what electricians do, share how to find an electrician apprenticeship, discuss their skills, reveal how much you can expect to make in this position and answer some frequently asked questions.
What is an electrical apprenticeship?
An electrical apprenticeship is a paid vocational program that teaches you how to perform the duties of an electrician through the guided support of a teacher or mentor. This apprenticeship typically takes four years to complete, with both practical and classroom learning. Apprenticeships aim to improve your technical skills and build your professional knowledge, enabling you to find quick solutions to any problems you may encounter in your profession.
Individuals of all ages can take advantage of apprenticeship programs to become an electrician, which is useful if you're trying to change careers or entering the workforce for the first time. Upon completion of your apprenticeship, you may be eligible to apply for an electrician licence, which allows you to perform your duties without supervision.
Related: How to Become an Electrician in 4 Steps
What do electricians do?
An electrician oversees the maintenance and installation of electrical systems for buildings, from factories to houses. They ensure a house has access to hot water, heating systems and electricity, to improve quality of life and enable those in the building to use the appliances safely. Their daily tasks include mounting wiring, maintaining machinery and electrical equipment, testing electrical networks and problem-solving any issues that may arise. Electricians typically specialise in either construction or maintenance, though some can do both.
Related: What Does an Electrician Do? Definition and Salaries
How to find an electrical apprenticeship
If you're thinking about applying for an apprenticeship, there are some steps you can take to help secure your spot, including:
1. Consider the type of electrician you want to be
Before you apply for an apprenticeship, it's important to think about the main areas in which you wish to develop your skills. There are four main types of specialist electricians, including industrial electricians, construction electricians, maintenance electricians and instrumentation electricians. Each focuses on different types of repairs, so understanding the type of electrician you want to be can help you choose a course that correlates to your chosen speciality. For example, commercial electricians typically work in office buildings and hospitality settings, while industrial electricians primarily work in manufacturing factories and chemical plants.
Related: Commercial Electrician vs Industrial Electrician: Key Differences
2. Research apprenticeships
To find an apprenticeship that's best suited for your work ethic, availability and skill set, it's best to research a range of apprenticeships before you apply. You can find different apprenticeships online by researching programs offered by trade unions, government websites and various electrician employers. You can also search for apprenticeships using the Indeed Job Board, which enables you to tailor your search to specific locations.
Related: How to Write an Electrician Apprentice Cover Letter
3. Fulfil program requirements
Before you apply for an apprenticeship program, make sure you know what qualifications you need, along with other requirements. Some apprenticeships require a government-issued ID, such as a passport. Some employers may also require you to provide your own tools, uniforms or safety equipment, so it's important to confirm this before you apply. It may also be necessary to fill out paperwork or sign contracts to register your interest in a program. Be sure to submit all documents to prove your eligibility for the course within the deadlines, so that you can start the course on time.
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Apprentice electrician skills
If you're interested in becoming an apprentice electrician, consider developing the following skills to perform your duties to the best of your ability:
General health and fitness
While being an electrician doesn't require a high level of fitness, your duties as an apprenticeship may include lifting and moving heavy materials. You may also stretch your body to perform tasks in hard-to-reach areas, so a general fitness ability may be beneficial. Good eyesight is also important for telling the colours of wires apart from one another, which is a key aspect of repairs.
Communication is important for understanding the tasks your teacher gives you and clarifying any issues you may encounter. Communicating is fundamental to asking for help from your supervisor, which can help you become a better and more skilful apprentice. Developing this skill may also increase your confidence and ability to talk to clients, contribute to problem-solving and write reports.
Related: Understanding and Overcoming Common Communication Barriers with Examples
As an apprentice electrician, developing your technical ability is important to progress within the program. With both classroom learning and practical workshops, most courses enable you to apply what you've learnt in lesson to a real-life scenario. The technical skills you may develop include inspecting electrical equipment, installing wiring systems and repairing malfunctions.
Attention to detail
It's crucial as an electrician to pay attention to even the smallest details. Identifying any issues in a wiring or electrical system is crucial for ensuring that you complete your work safely and correctly. Paying attention to details can prevent faulty wiring jobs and make you more efficient at problem-solving.
Related: How to Improve Your Attention to Detail in 4 Steps
How much does an apprentice electrician make?
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
The average national salary for an apprentice electrician is $54,175 per year, though this figure may vary depending on your specific employer, your level of education and your skill set. Your regional location may also affect how much you make as an apprentice electrician, because of potential differences in living costs. As you progress through your apprenticeship, your salary may also increase, though this depends on your program provider.
This is how much you can make on average as an apprentice electrician by city:
Wollongong NSW: $59,196 per year
Melbourne VIC: $58,996 per year
Geelong VIC: $56,710 per year
Sydney NSW: $53,724 per year
Canberra ACT: $53,282 per year
Newcastle NSW: $51,572 per year
Rowville VIC: $51,193 per year
Brisbane QLD: $50,920 per year
Related: 6 of the Highest-Paid Apprenticeships (With Duties)
Average salary for an electrician
Once you complete your apprenticeship and become a fully qualified electrician, your salary typically increases. The average national salary for an electrician is $86,936 per year. Different skill sets, years of experience, your specific employer and regional location may also affect how much you make as a fully qualified electrician. For example, the average national income of an electrician per city is as follows:
Welshpool WA: $176,267 per year
Perth WA: $106,286 per year
Darwin NT: $93,213 per year
Sydney NSW: $83,553 per year
Melbourne VIC: $80,290 per year
Brisbane QLD: $79,744 per year
Newcastle NSW: $75,666 per year
Henderson WA: $74,197 per year
FAQs about electrical apprenticeships
Listed below are the answers to three commonly asked questions about taking part in apprenticeships for electricians:
Can you work as a fully qualified electrician after completing an apprenticeship?
To work as a professional electrician, you need an electrical licence after you complete an electrician apprenticeship. Your four-year apprenticeship qualifies you to apply for the licence, and you can do this online. Some states may have their own specific requirements, so ensure you check your eligibility according to your current regional location. Upon obtaining the licence, you can work as a fully qualified electrician.
How long does it take to complete an apprenticeship to become an electrician?
Most apprenticeships for the electrician trade take around four years to complete when studied full time. If your apprenticeship offers a part-time learning schedule, it may take longer to complete. If you choose to complete a course to become a specialist electrician, this may take longer because of additional training.
Do you need professional experience to apply for an electrician apprenticeship?
For most apprenticeship courses, it's not necessary to possess professional work experience in the industry, though evidence of interest in the trade is desirable. You can show your interest in becoming an electrician by familiarising yourself with the AS3000 wiring rules, which set out the standards for installation in the industry. While this may be beneficial to learn, there are many apprenticeship programs suitable for complete beginners, such as Certificate III in Electrotechnology.
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