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Can a Felon Become an Electrician?

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When it comes to getting a job after their release from prison, felons find it challenging.  Jobs they once had are lost and careers may be gone.

Felons may think no one will hire them, but there are resources available.

They will have to be open and willing to learn a new trade or start a different career.

This is the opportunity for felons to begin a new profession.

This blog post will address the issue of whether a felon can become an electrician.

  • What is an Electrician?
  • What Training Does an Electrician Need?
  • How Much Does an Electrician Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Supporting a Felon in Becoming an Electrician


What is an Electrician?

An electrician is a person that installs, maintains, and repairs electrical lines like lighting, communications systems, and control systems.

An electrician reads blue prints and diagrams to install and repair wiring, circuit breakers, and transformers.

An electrician installs and repairs electric power in rural, residential, and commercial areas.  They are required to be up-to-date on safety codes and use approved materials.

They can work in homes, businesses, factories, industrial locations, and government facilities.

There are a number of skills needed to be an electrician:

  • Practical skills
  • Ability to use power tools
  • Ability to analyze blueprints and technical drawings
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to focus for a long time period
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Good work ethic
  • Must be able to spot problems while measuring and installing wiring
  • Must be able to work in cramped spaces in difficult positions
  • Climb, lift, and carry heavy objects
  • Knowledge of math and the ability to do quick calculations
  • Good communications to understand the needs of an electrical problem
  • Able to apply reason and logic and to be able to analyze alternatives
  • Able to make quick decisions and use good judgment

An electrician must be reliable, dependable, and responsible.  They must be detail-oriented, able to work on their own, and persistent in solving a problem.

What Training Does an Electrician Need?

There are certain steps to follow to become an electrician.  First, they must graduate from high school or get their GED.  They can take electrician courses at a vocational school or community college to learn the basics.

Those interested in the electrical field can join an electrician apprentice program.

This type of program can be sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), or Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC).

An electrician begins as an apprentice, learning the basics working under a licensed electrician.

An apprenticeship is a program lasting four or five years in which an apprentice is paid while they learn.

When an apprentice has met all requirements of the program (typically 8000 hours of paid supervised work experience), they take an exam to become licensed as a journeyman electrician.  This means they are able to work on electrical designs, installation, and repair.

After several years of experience, a journeyman electrician can become a master electrician by taking and passing a qualifying exam.

How Much Does an Electrician Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 628,000 electricians which includes journeyman as well as master electricians.  This occupation is expected to show a 14% growth by 2020.

The average salary for an electrician in 2015 was $53,000.  Experience and skill level could have a significant impact on these earnings.

It also depends on the area of the country where an electrician lives.  Those on the West coast and in the Northeast have the highest annual salary.

An Opportunity for Felons?

While the exact requirements for felons to become an electrician differ somewhat depending on the state, typically, the regulations indicate certain factors.

Felons with certain convictions are generally not eligible to work as an electrician.

These include those with an offense:

  • Involving fraud or deceptive trade practices because they would have the opportunity to practice fraud related to the need for services
  • Against children or a sexual crime because they would have access to private homes and employees at a business
  • Against property like theft or burglary because they would come into contact with unprotected property
  • Of homicide, kidnapping, or assault because they could endanger persons they encountered on the job with their violent tendencies

In order to be successful in their pursuit of being an electrician, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background.  Lying about their conviction will prevent them from becoming an electrician.

They are already working with the often negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

There are many success stories, as the Guide to Being Employed, reveals, showing how being honest, having a goal, commitment, dedication, and perseverance can assist felons in achieving their dream.

There are re-entry programs, such as drug treatment, and educational opportunities for felons who need them.

For many felons, having their felony expunged can give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming an electrician.

For employers, there is a Work Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring a felon.

Supporting a Felon in Becoming an Electrician

For families of felons wanting to pursue a dream of becoming an electrician, encourage your loved one and support their efforts to live an honest life, change their lifestyle, and keep their dreams alive.

Your family member is worth making the effort for, if they are sincere in their desire to become an electrician.

Help them realize their ambition no matter how difficult the road might be.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become an electrician with a felony?  What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Can a Felon Become an Electrician?”

    • I don’t think there is any state that you can’t be an electrician. To get an electrical contractors license and getting bonded and insured would be the hardship. In California burglary wouldn’t stop you from any trade. They can’t even look back either 5, 7, or 10 years depending on the crime. Don’t hesitate to apply. I was in the electrical apprenticeship in alameda county years ago. Right after rehab and jail. No felonies but have 2nd degree burg misd. and petty theft misd. and they never batted an eye. In fact, I told them I was a recovering addict, had been homeless and addicted to heroin and crack for years but had turned my life around IN THE INTERVIEW. The trades actually want to give people a 2nd chances. Im an inspector now and I worked with a guy who had literally gotten out of a 10 year prison sentence for gang stuff 2 weeks prior. He studied the code books in prison and the day he got out he took his certs and was making $34/hr OUT THE GATE.


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