IEC and ABC Non-Union Apprenticeships

If you are interested in becoming an electrician, you probably know by now that an apprenticeship is a part of the deal. Whether you enter an apprenticeship directly or upon the completion of a training course, it is an essential part of gaining the knowledge you need to work with confidence and competence throughout your career. Although the work of an apprentice can be intense, every day you are on the job is an opportunity to learn from the master and journeyperson electricians under whose supervision you work. 

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One of the best things about becoming an apprentice is the ability to earn a living wage while learning the trade. This ability to make money during a training period is in contrast to most careers where you need to spend an impressive amount of money to become adequately trained. In fact, payscale.com reports average annual wages between $25,000 and $45,000 for electrical apprentices in the United States. 

Apprentices work alongside their preceptors, assisting them on their day-to-day work while learning to perform specific procedures. As you learn more skills, you will gain more independence and freedom until you are ready to proceed to the next level of your career by taking your journeyman examination and becoming licensed. An apprenticeship will generally last at least four years but will sometimes take up to six years to complete. 

Entering an apprenticeship can happen in a variety of ways, but in general you will have to apply for one, sit for an interview and be accepted. There are two different ways in which you can be an apprentice. You can either become an apprentice through a union organization or a non-union (merit/open-shop) organization. Merit/open-shop organizations are trade associations comprised of non-union contractors who are journey-level and master-level electricians in the construction trade. Non-union apprenticeships are generally found through one of two organizations: the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) or the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). 

Finding an Apprenticeship in Your State

Although you can always search for apprenticeships online, you might reach out to a trade organization once you have decided if that’s the type of apprenticeship you prefer. If a non-union apprenticeship sounds like a good fit for you, you will want to contact your local IEC or ABC chapter to inquire about potential opportunities in the trade. The chart below is an excellent place to start if you are looking to find either an IEC apprenticeship or ABC apprenticeship in your state.

StateNon-Union Apprenticeship Organizations
AlabamaThe Construction Education Foundation of Alabama (CEFA)-office in Birmingham, AL (ABC affiliated) IEC Southeast Region-office in Birmingham, AL
AlaskaABC, Alaska Chapter-office in Anchorage, AK
ArizonaArizona Builder’s Alliance-offices in Tucson, AZ and Tempe, AZ IEC, Arizona Chapter-office in Tempe, AZ IEC of Southern Arizona-office in Tucson, AZ
ArkansasMidsouth IEC-office in Bartlett, TN
CaliforniaABC San Diego-office in Poway, CA ABC Northern California Chapter-office in Livermore, CA ABC Central California-office in Bakersfield, CA ABC Southern California-office in Anaheim, CA
ColoradoIEC Southern Colorado-office in Colorado Springs, CO ABC Rocky Mountains-office in Englewood, CO IEC Rocky Mountain Chapter-office in Northglenn, CO Western Colorado IEC-office in Glenwood Springs, CO
ConnecticutIEC New England-office in Rocky Hill, CT
DelawareIEC Chesapeake-office in Laurel, MD
District of ColumbiaIEC Chesapeake-office in Laurel, MD and Dulles, VA
FloridaIEC Florida West Coast-office in Clearwater, FL ABC Florida Gulf Coast-office in Tampa, FL ABC Florida East Coast-office in Coconut Creek, FL
GeorgiaIEC Atlanta and Georgia Chapters-office in Atlanta, GA
HawaiiApprenticeships are Not Available through IEC or ABC
IdahoIEC of Boise-office in Boise, ID
IllinoisABC Illinois-office in Springfield, IL and Elk Grove Village, IL Midwest IEC-office in Crown Point, IL IEC of Greater St. Louis-office in Chesterfield, MO
IndianaMidwest IEC-office in Crown Point, IL IEC Greater Cincinnati-office in Cincinnati, OH ABC Indiana/Kentucky-offices in Indianapolis, IN, Elkhart, IN, Dayton, IN, Louisville, KY, Bowling Green, KY, Fort Wayne, IN, Lexington, KY and Muncie, IN IEC Indy-office in Indianapolis, IN IEC of Kentucky and Southern Indiana-office in Louisville, KY and Evansville, IN
IowaABC of Iowa-office Grimes, IA, with training centers in Davenport, IA, Grimes, IA and Hiawatha, IA
KansasIEC, Wichita Chapter-office in Wichita, KS
KentuckyIEC of Kentucky and Southern Indiana-office in Louisville, KY and Evansville, IN IEC Greater Cincinnati-office in Cincinnati, OH IEC of the Bluegrass-office in Lexington, KY ABC Indiana/Kentucky-offices in Indianapolis, IN, Elkhart, IN, Dayton, IN, Louisville, KY, Bowling Green, KY, Fort Wayne, IN, Lexington, KY and Muncie, IN
LouisianaApprenticeships are Not Available through IEC or ABC
MaineApprenticeships are Not Available through IEC or ABC
MarylandIEC Chesapeake-office in Laurel, MD and Dulles, VA
MassachusettsGould Construction Institute-office in Woburn, MA (Affiliated with ABC Massachusetts) IEC of New England-office in Rocky Hill, CT Merit Apprentice Program through ABC Massachusetts-office in Woburn, MA
MichiganABC Western Michigan Chapter-office in Grand Rapids, MI ABC, Greater Michigan-office in Midland, MI ABC Southeast Michigan-office in Madison Heights, MI
MinnesotaIEC Dakotas-office in Sioux Falls, SD, with training facilities in Rapid City, SD, Sioux Falls, SD, North Fargo, ND and Grand Forks, ND (serves Clay, Norman and Folk counties)
MississippiMidsouth IEC-office in Bartlett, TN
MissouriIEC of Greater St. Louis-office in Chesterfield, MO IEC of Southeast Missouri-office in Frohna, MO Central Missouri IEC-office in Sedalia, MO
MontanaMontana IEC-office in Helena, MT
NebraskaApprenticeships are Not Available through IEC or ABC
NevadaApprenticeships are Not Available through IEC or ABC
New HampshireApprenticeships are Not Available through IEC or ABC
New JerseyNew Jersey IEC-office in Cranford, NJ
New MexicoSouthern New Mexico IEC-office in Las Cruces, NM Northern New Mexico IEC-office in Albuquerque, NM ABC New Mexico-office in Albuquerque, NM
New YorkApprenticeships are Not Available through IEC or ABC
North CarolinaApprenticeships are Not Available through IEC or ABC
North DakotaIEC Dakotas-office in Sioux Falls, SD, with training facilities in Rapid City, SD, Sioux Falls, SD, North Fargo, ND and Grand Forks, ND
OhioIEC Central Ohio-office in Columbus, OH ABC, Ohio Valley Chapter-office in Springboro, OH ABC Central Ohio Chapter-office in Columbus, OH Dayton Ohio Chapter IEC-office in Dayton, OH IEC Greater Cincinnati-office in Cincinnati, OH IEC Western Reserve Chapter-office in Youngstown, OH ABC, Northern Ohio Chapter-offices in Broadview Heights, OH and Independence, OH IEC Northern Ohio-office in Lakewood, OH
OklahomaIEC, OKC, Inc.-office in Oklahoma City, OK ABC Oklahoma-office Broken Arrow, OK
OregonIEC of Oregon-office in Tigard, OR, training center in Salem, OR Mid-Oregon Chapter IEC-office in Eugene OR
PennsylvaniaIEC Northeast Region-office in Erie, PA Central Pennsylvania Chapter IEC-office Mechanicsburg, PA ABC Western Pennsylvania-office Gibsonia, PA IEC Chesapeake-office in Laurel, MD and Dulles, VA ABC Eastern Pennsylvania-offices in East Norriton, PA and Allentown, PA IEC Western Reserve-office Youngstown, OH
Puerto RicoApprenticeships are Not Available through IEC or ABC
Rhode IslandRhode Island Construction Training Academy-office in Pawtucket, RI (ABC affiliated)
South CarolinaApprenticeships are Not Available through IEC or ABC
South DakotaIEC Dakotas-office in Sioux Falls, SD, with training facilities in Rapid City, SD, Sioux Falls, SD, North Fargo, ND and Grand Forks, ND
TennesseeMidsouth IEC-office in Bartlett, TN ABC Greater Tennessee-offices in Nashville, TN and Knoxville, TN
TexasIEC of East Texas-office in Tyler, TX ABC, Southeast Texas Chapter-office in Nederland, TX ABC, Texas Gulf Coast Chapter-office in Freeport, TX ABC, South Texas Chapter-office San Antonio, TX ABC, Central Texas Chapter-office in Austin, TX IEC Texas-office in Austin, TX IEC Texas, Rio Grande Chapter-office in Harlingen, TX IEC of Lubbock-office in Lubbock, TX IEC of the Texas Panhandle-office in Amarillo, TX IEC Texas Gulf Coast Chapter-office in Houston, TX IEC San Antonio Chapter-office in San Antonio, TX IEC Fort Worth/Tarrant County Chapter-office in Fort Worth, TX IEC Dallas Chapter-office in Hereford, TX IEC El Paso Chapter-office in El Paso, TX IEC Central Texas Chapter-office in Austin, TX
UtahIEC of Utah-office in Midvale, UT
VermontApprenticeships are Not Available through IEC or ABC
VirginiaIEC Chesapeake-office in Laurel, MD and Dulles, VA ABC Virginia Chapter-offices in Dulles, VA, Norfolk, VA and Richmond, VA
WashingtonConstruction Industry Training Council-office in Vancouver, WA (ABC affiliated) IEC of Oregon-office in Tigard, OR, training center in Salem, OR IEC of Washington-office in Everett, WA
West VirginiaIEC Chesapeake-office in Laurel, MD and Dulles, VA
WisconsinABC Wisconsin Chapter-office In Madison, WI ABC of Wisconsin Construction Education-office in Madison, WI
WyomingIEC Rocky Mountain Chapter-office in Northglenn, CO

IEC Apprenticeships and ABC Apprenticeships: What to Expect

Before entering into an apprenticeship, you will need to meet specific prerequisites. You will be required to have a reliable source of transportation, be 18 years of age or older and have acquired a high school diploma or equivalent. You will also need to be in good physical condition, with an ability to carry heavy equipment, climb ladders and scaffolding and work with power tools. 

IEC electrician apprentices can choose to participate in one of two focused programs. The Electrical Apprentice Training program is a good fit for anyone who would like to work in an industrial or commercial electrical environment. The Residential Electrical Specialist Apprentice Training program focuses on residential electrical work in single-family or multi-family homes. In either program, apprentices will receive instruction from the local chapter, along with many hours of on-the-job training. Students in the program will be well-versed in the trade and ready to work independently upon the completion of the program due to the combination of structured learning and experience. It will take four years to complete the program. 

ABC electrician apprentices complete a four-year training program that covers all aspects of electrical work. In addition to on-the-job training performed under the supervision and instruction of an experienced electrician, students will need to attend classroom training in the evenings. ABC instructors are required to have industry experience and be certified by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), ensuring instructor competence. 

These two organizations are not available in all locations, and not all those who are considering an apprenticeship will have the opportunity to choose between them. However, both programs graduate competent professionals who are ready to pursue journeyperson credentials—as such, completing either program will instill you with the skills you need to continue to the next stages of your career. 

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Building Your Career: Apprenticeship and Beyond

Your apprenticeship is an exciting time in your life where you will be continuously learning and expanding your skillset. During this time, you will have access to the advice and supervision of both journey-level and master-level experts in the field. It is advisable to spend this training period studying diligently in preparation for your next steps. 

When you have completed your apprenticeship, you will be qualified to become a journeyperson electrician. However, these are credentials that must be earned. In most places, journey-level electricians are required to take and pass an examination based heavily on local building code practices and apply for licensure. Once you have achieved your credentials, you can also expect a reasonably large pay increase to go along with it. Journeymen have the advantages of working more independently and supervising apprentice electricians while still under the auspices of the master electrician. In this stage of your career, you are responsible for both teaching and continued learning as you prepare to become a master electrician. 

Qualifying to become a master electrician requires at least two years of working as a journeyperson. Master electricians are at the top of their game, as they are the only tradespeople who can work with complete independence, own a contracting company and deal with permitting agents. Becoming a master electrician will also involve taking an examination and acquiring licensing in most places. Master electricians make the highest wages of anyone in the trade and can expect to make from $7,000 to $19,000 more than their journey-level counterparts annually. 

Regardless of where you train, you can expect to encounter plenty of opportunity for growth and change over the course of your career. Those in the trade work in a variety of industries and can be found working at nine-to-five jobs, large construction companies and small independent businesses. Once you have become a master tradesperson, you will have the freedom to choose the direction you would like your future to take.