If you are just now considering entering an electrician training program, you are probably pretty focused on the education and training you need to jumpstart your career—and that is a great place to start! But an electrician’s education doesn’t not stop the day he or she receives a license (this hardly happens in any industry anymore!). Rather, education and training are integral parts of an electrician’s entire career. An electrician’s career-specific lifelong learning pursuits take two main forms: increased on-the-job experience and continuing education classes. In general, licensed electricians take continuing education classes for two main reasons: 1) to comply with the laws and regulations in their state and 2) to become further specialized and advance their careers.
Why is continuing education required? Well, the National Electrical Code is updated frequently, as are state and federal laws regarding safety on the job site. To make sure construction workers know about these changes and are abiding by the laws, many states require electricians to undergo a certain amount of training every year to renew their license. For example, in North Dakota, most classes of electricians must complete eight hours of continuing education training each year. In Oregon, depending on the license they hold, electricians must complete anywhere from four to 24 hours of continuing education each year. These credits can be earned at trade or technical schools, community colleges, or other approved organizations. Since many of these required courses are theory-based, not practical, electricians in many states can complete their training online. To find the continuing education requirements in your area, check the website of your state’s electrical board.
Practicing electricians may also pursue continuing education to learn specialized knowledge and advance their careers. For example, electricians could take advanced courses in programmable controllers, electrical motor controls, or fiber optics. They may choose to study solar electric installation or take an introductory course in electric vehicles. Unlike the state-required code change and safety courses, career advancement courses are usually more practical in nature. They are often offered as short (1, 2, or 3 day) workshops and generally can’t be taken online. However, these are only general guidelines—your school may have different options.
Technology is changing quickly in every sector, and the construction industry is no exception. As in other industries, electricians need to take personal responsibility to ensure that their knowledge and skills are up-to-date. This will not only help them stay competitive in the job market, but also more training frequently translates into a higher salary. There are many different types of electrical work available, and increasing your education is one of the best ways to take advantage of the various new opportunities that arise all of the time.
North Dakota State Electrical Board. Continuing education requirements.