You will need to consult your state's Labor Code to find out what the electrician certification requirement are for the county or city where you plan to perform electrical work. Most states require electricians to have their electrician license and then become certified in order to work without one-on-one supervision. Becoming a certified electrician may not be a very lengthy process, but it will require finding the right certification program that meets your career goals and is developed by a professional organization, such as the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee.
If you are thinking about becoming a certified electrician, you will need to acquire certain job skills and seek out an apprenticeship program that will provide you with adequate training for the job.
Getting an Electrician License
The first step in becoming a certified electrician is to get an electrician license. Electrician licensing requirements vary slightly from state to state and most require that the aspiring electrician takes a formal licensing exam. Some states have electrician license classifications where they are only permitted to perform electrical work in a particular area such as in commercial buildings or residential work. If you are going to be working on fire alarms, security systems or advanced telecommunications technologies, some states require you to get a separate electrician license so that you acquire specialized skills in your field.
Becoming a Certified Electrician
Once you have obtained your electrician license, you can work towards becoming a certified electrician. Electrician certification programs are offered through professional electrician organizations, or trade organizations such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the National Electrical Contractors Association and the Independent Electrical Contractors association. All of these organizations provide certified electrician training programs that comply with U.S. Department of Labor regulations and meet your state's basic requirements for certification.
You can also seek out an advanced electrician training program at a vocational school or community college. These types of training programs offer training in electrical theory, circuitry, motor controls and mathematics, and are usually combined with hands-on training in an apprenticeship program. This type of training typically takes about four years, sometimes five years, to complete, but fully prepares you to become a certified electrician.
Once you have completed all basic educational and training requirements to become an electrician, you will need to decide what type of certification you want, or what area you want to specialize in. Some certification requirements are dictated by the organization you are applying with and you may need to have acquired some work experience in the field in order to meet the basic requirements. For example, in the State of California, a "general electrician" requires 8,000 hours of prior work experience as an electrical contractor in order to be certified, while a "residential electrician" requires 4,800 hours of work experience in order to become a certified electrician. Once you're qualified for certification, you'll need to sit for an exam and complete a written portion to prove your knowledge in various topics. The hands-on portion of the exam typically requires you to perform specific tasks that prove you have a certain skillset or mastery in a particular area.