How Much Does it Cost to Become an Electrician?
September 29, 2021
Becoming an electrician in California does not happen overnight. It requires professional training, thousands of hours of supervised working experience on actual job sites, and passing a state exam. If you do want to work as a licensed electrician, it is important to know the cost of the vocational schooling, licensing fees, and work equipment you will need.
You must attend trade school to become a licensed electrician. Tuition cost depends on which school and program you choose.
Those that want to become an electrician must enroll in a state or federally approved electrical training program. There, you will learn electrical theory and safety in the classroom and have the chance to put your knowledge to the test with hands-on training in a lab.
While the material covered will be roughly the same, regardless of what program you attend, there will be differences in the time it takes to complete the program, the amount of hands-on training, and tuition cost.
How long does it take to complete the program? This depends upon the school and program. A community college program may take several years to complete, depending on the availability of courses. Conversely, at I-TAP and other institutions dedicated specifically to electrical education, an electrical trainee program can be completed in as little as 26 weeks. The time it takes to complete the program is important. Once the program is complete, you can join the workforce as a trainee and start earning money.
How much does tuition cost? The average cost of tuition at a community college is $3,400 per semester, or approximately $6,800 per year (this price does not include the cost of books or housing). However, at a community college you may not be able to take just the courses required for electrical certification. Some electrical courses may have prerequisites—courses you must take before you can take the electrical course in question—such as math classes. Prerequisites and limitations in course availability mean that it can take several years to complete the required coursework.
Schools which are dedicated specifically to electrical education tend to be a little pricier. For instance, tuition for I-TAP’s 26-week trainee program is $17,500. However, some of this cost is due to materials which are included in the cost of the program, but which are not in community college programs. I-TAP’s program also offers significantly more hands-on training than the typical electrical program.
And remember, all eligible students may be able to take advantage of financial aid that may help pay some or all of the tuition costs at both community colleges and trade schools like I-TAP.
In California, you must also pay a fee in order to apply for and take the state certification exam.
After you’ve completed your required coursework and hours working in the field as an electrician trainee, you must pass the state certification exam to become a licensed journeyperson electrician.
Currently, the fee to apply to take the exam is $75.00. The fee to take the exam is $100.00. You may incur additional fees, such as when you must renew your certification. All exam fees can be found on the California Department of Industrial Relations' website.
You must also take into consideration the cost of tools and equipment, as these will be necessary on the job.
Every electrician must have their own set of tools and gear. You will want a personal toolbox, as well as your own tool belt and personal protective equipment. While some tools may be provided by the company you work for, it’s best practice to carry your own tools so you can be ready to work whenever required.
If you already have some experience working in the trades, or even just basic knowledge of what electricians do, then you may know what tools you need. But if you are just starting out, you are probably wondering what essential equipment you must get before your first day on the job.
Here are just some of the basic tools that you need on day 1:
- Screw drivers
- Tool belt
- Tape measure
- Needle-nose pliers
- Diagonal cutters
- Utility knife
As you can see, these are fairly common tools that you are likely to find online or at the hardware store. You can purchase tools individually or buy them as a set. If you do buy a set, be sure to take inventory of what tools might be missing so you can buy those separately.
The costs associated with becoming an electrician include tuition, exam fees, and the cost of tools. While it is not free, the investment can certainly pay off. Electricians are one of the highest earners among all trade careers. The job outlook is strong and there does seem to be plenty of work opportunities in the commercial and industrial sectors.
Working as an electrician can be a rewarding career filled with unique opportunities—if you are ready to start your career as an electrician, contact I-TAP! Our staff is here to answer any questions you may have and help you get started on your career.
Ready to learn a skilled trade and work on some of the most exciting commercial construction projects in California and beyond?
I-TAP is an electrical apprenticeship program that helps you find your passion, grow your skills, and place you in the perfect electrician job.