IBEW electricians

IBEW Apprenticeships: A Comprehensive Guide to Electrician Union apprenticeship Programs

Ready To Learn How to Join The IBEW?

Are you considering a career as an electrician and wondering how to join the IBEW? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the ins and outs of the IBEW Apprenticeship program, a renowned electrician union apprenticeship that offers an excellent path to becoming a licensed electrician. By joining the IBEW, you’ll not only gain access to valuable training and experience but also enjoy the benefits of being part of a prestigious electrician union.

Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to enter the world of skilled trades, combining hands-on experience with classroom learning. They offer a unique opportunity to learn from experienced professionals while earning a competitive salary.

Join The IBEW

Download Our Free IBEW eBook!

The IBEW apprenticeship program, in particular, is highly regarded for its structured training, support, and strong emphasis on safety. So, if you’re ready to kickstart your career and learn how to join IBEW, this guide is for you!

In the sections to follow, we’ll dive deep into what an apprenticeship is, how they work, and explore the different types of apprenticeship programs offered by the Electrical Training Alliance, a partnership between the IBEW and NECA. We’ll also discuss the IBEW electrical union, its membership, and the potential earnings of union electricians across the country. Finally, we’ll lay out the step-by-step process of applying to an apprenticeship program, from identifying the right local union to acing the aptitude test and interview.

So, let’s embark on this exciting journey to uncover the secrets of the IBEW apprenticeship program and unlock your potential as a skilled union electrician!

Understanding Electrical Union Apprenticeships

JATC apprenticeship

Before we dive into the specifics of the IBEW apprenticeship program, it’s essential to understand what an apprenticeship is and how it can pave the way for becoming a licensed electrician. Apprenticeships are a time-tested method of learning a skilled trade, combining on-the-job training with classroom instruction.

By participating in an apprenticeship, aspiring electricians can gain practical experience, develop their skills, and build a solid foundation for a successful career.

Electrician union apprenticeships, like the ones offered by the IBEW, provide an added layer of support and guidance. These programs are designed to ensure that participants receive top-notch training while adhering to the highest safety standards. Furthermore, union apprenticeships often provide better wage and benefit packages compared to non-union programs.

The IBEW offers a variety of apprenticeship programs tailored to different specialized trades within the electrical industry. These programs include Inside Wiremen (Electricians), Voice-Data-Video (Low Voltage) technicians, and Linemen. Each of these specialized trades has its unique skills and requirements, and we’ll delve deeper into each of these programs in the upcoming sections. By choosing the right apprenticeship program, you can take the first crucial step towards learning how to become a licensed electrician and establishing a rewarding career in the electrical field.

In the next section, we will introduce you to the Electrical Training Alliance, a partnership between the IBEW and NECA. This alliance ensures that participants receive the best possible training and resources to excel in their chosen trade.

The Electrical Training Alliance: IBEW and NECA Partnership

Navigating the world of electrical apprenticeships can be overwhelming, especially when faced with a mix of acronyms and industry-specific jargon. To help clear things up, let’s take a closer look at the Electrical Training Alliance (ETA), the organization that oversees the apprenticeship programs we’re discussing in this guide.

The ETA is a partnership between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the electrician union, and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), the contractor organization. In simpler terms, the ETA is the apprenticeship program put together by the IBEW and NECA, designed to provide a comprehensive training experience for aspiring electricians. As a participant in the ETA, you will be a member of the IBEW union and work for a NECA contractor.

The ETA was previously known as the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) before it was renamed in 2013. Whether you see the ETA or NJATC mentioned, they both refer to the same organization responsible for managing these apprenticeship programs.

So, to recap and make it crystal clear: When you join an IBEW apprenticeship program, you will be enrolled in the Electrical Training Alliance (ETA). As an apprentice, you’ll work as an IBEW member, and your employer will be a NECA contractor. It’s a powerful partnership that equips you with the right skills, knowledge, and experience to excel in your chosen trade.


Now that we have a better understanding of the ETA and its role, let’s move on to explore the various apprenticeship programs offered by the IBEW and discuss the potential earnings for union electricians.

Union Electrician Salary and Earnings

When considering a career as an electrician, one of the key factors that come to mind is the earning potential. Being part of the IBEW apprenticeship program not only provides top-notch training but also ensures competitive wages and benefits. In this section, we’ll explore the salary structure for apprentices and journeyman electricians, giving you an insight into the financial rewards of joining the IBEW apprenticeship program.

As an apprentice, you can expect to start earning between 40-45% of the journeyman electrician’s salary. But worry not! This is just the beginning. Throughout your apprenticeship, you’ll receive guaranteed pay raises every six months, gradually increasing your earnings as you gain more skills and experience. Additionally, apprentices enjoy full medical benefits and a percentage of pension contributions similar to their wage percentage, making it an attractive package overall.

To give you a better idea of the earning potential, we’ve put together a chart showcasing the wages of IBEW journeyman electricians in the top 13 most populated cities across Canada and the United States. This chart also includes a column for estimated first-year apprentice wages, giving you a snapshot of how your earnings will grow over time. Please note that the first-year apprentice wage column is an estimate. For accurate information on apprentice wages specific to your location, it’s always best to contact your local IBEW hall.

Union electrician salary

With competitive salaries, regular pay raises, and comprehensive benefits, the IBEW apprenticeship program offers a strong financial foundation for your career as a licensed electrician. By investing in your skills and knowledge through the program, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the rewards of a prosperous career in the electrical industry.

IBEW Apprenticeship Program Types

The IBEW offers a range of apprenticeship programs to cater to the diverse needs of the electrical industry. Each program focuses on a specific area of expertise, allowing you to choose the path that best aligns with your career goals and interests. In this section, we’ll provide a brief overview of the three main IBEW apprenticeship programs: Inside Wiremen (Electricians), Voice-Data-Video (Low Voltage) technicians, and Linemen.

IBEW apprenticeship programs

Inside Wiremen (Electricians):

Inside Wiremen are the backbone of the electrical industry, dealing with the electrical systems within residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. Their primary responsibilities include installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical wiring, fixtures, and equipment. They ensure that the power supply from the building’s main distribution point is distributed safely and efficiently to various devices and outlets. The Inside Wiremen apprenticeship program spans 5 years.

Voice-Data-Video (Low Voltage) Technicians:

Voice-Data-Video technicians, also known as Low Voltage or data technicians, specialize in the installation, maintenance, and repair of low voltage systems. These systems include fire alarms, security systems, internet and networking infrastructure, and audiovisual equipment. Low voltage technicians are essential in today’s interconnected world, ensuring that the technology we rely on functions seamlessly and securely. The Voice-Data-Video apprenticeship program lasts for 3 years.


Linemen are the brave professionals who work with high voltage electrical systems, dealing with the transmission and distribution of electricity from power plants to residential, commercial, and industrial properties. Their tasks include installing, maintaining, and repairing overhead and underground power lines, transformers, and other electrical equipment. Linemen play a critical role in keeping our power grid functioning and ensuring that homes and businesses receive a reliable supply of electricity. The Linemen apprenticeship program is 3 years in duration.

Each of these apprenticeship programs offers unique challenges and rewards, allowing you to choose the path that best suits your skills and interests. Whether you’re passionate about working on complex electrical systems as an Inside Wireman, bringing the latest technology to life as a Voice-Data-Video technician, or keeping our power grid running smoothly as a Lineman, the IBEW apprenticeship program can help you build a rewarding career in the electrical industry.

Application Process for IBEW Apprenticeship Programs

If you’re ready to start your journey towards becoming a licensed electrician, the first step is to apply for one of the IBEW apprenticeship programs. In this section, we’ll guide you through the application process and the necessary prerequisites to join the program.

First, you’ll need to locate the IBEW local closest to you. Check “IBEW” to only filter for IBEW apprenticeships, enter your zip code, and hit search.

      Once you’ve found your local IBEW, it’s important to ensure that you meet the prerequisites for joining the program. You are required to have:

      • 1. High School Diploma or GED
      • 2. A grade of “C” or higher in an Algebra 1 class (if you don’t, you can take the IBEW Tech Math Course to qualify)
      • 3. Have reliable transportation
      • 4. Proof of residency and citizenship
      • 5. Be at least 18 years old

      With these prerequisites in place, you can proceed to submit your application as instructed by the union. Keep in mind that it may take a few weeks to hear back from them. Once your application is reviewed and approved, the union will schedule you for the aptitude test, which is a critical part of the selection process.

      How To Join IBEW Apprenticeship

       The IBEW Aptitude Test

      After submitting your application for an IBEW apprenticeship program and meeting the prerequisites, the next step in the process is to take the IBEW Aptitude Test. This test plays a crucial role in determining your eligibility for the program, as it assesses your foundational knowledge in mathematics and reading comprehension. In this section, we’ll explore the structure of the test, its components, and how to prepare for it.

      The IBEW Aptitude Test is divided into two sections: Algebra and Functions, and Reading Comprehension. The purpose of this test is to gauge your ability to understand complex mathematical concepts and analyze written information, both of which are essential skills for a successful electrician.

      IBEW Aptitude Test

      Between the two sections, you will be given a short break to relax and refocus before continuing with the test.

      To help you prepare for the IBEW Aptitude Test, we recommend taking advantage of our free, full-length timed practice exam. This resource, available through our IBEW aptitude test prep course, is designed to familiarize you with the test format and give you a clear understanding of the concepts covered. Click the link below to access the course:

      With a solid understanding of the IBEW Aptitude Test and adequate preparation, you’ll be one step closer to securing your spot in the IBEW apprenticeship program and ultimately becoming a licensed electrician.

      The IBEW Apprenticeship Interview Process

      Once you’ve successfully completed the IBEW Aptitude Test, the next step in the apprenticeship process is the interview. This stage is crucial, as it allows the panel to assess your suitability for the program and the electrical trade. 

      The IBEW apprenticeship interview typically takes place in front of a panel consisting of 4-8 representatives, with half of them from the IBEW and the other half from NECA. During the interview, they will ask you questions about your work experience, personal life, and situational scenarios to better understand your problem-solving skills, adaptability, and commitment to the trade.

      IBEW Interview Questions

      To ensure a successful interview, it’s essential to be well-prepared and ready to answer a variety of questions. At a minimum, be prepared to answer the following questions:

      • Why do you want to join the IBEW and become an electrical worker, as opposed to pursuing another trade like plumbing?
      • Tell us about a time when you were working on an important deadline, but something of higher priority came up and prevented you from meeting the deadline. How did you handle the situation?
      • Tell us about the most challenging project you’ve ever completed entirely on your own. What obstacles did you face, and how did you overcome them?

      In addition to these questions, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the IBEW and its apprenticeship programs, as well as to reflect on your own experiences and skills. This will help you provide thoughtful and comprehensive answers during the interview.

      Remember, the key to a successful interview is confidence, preparation, and a genuine passion for the electrical trade. By demonstrating these qualities and effectively addressing the panel’s questions, you’ll be well on your way to securing a spot in the IBEW apprenticeship program.

      Understanding the IBEW Apprenticeship Ranking System

      After completing both the IBEW Aptitude Test and the apprenticeship interview, your scores from these assessments will be combined to determine your overall ranking. This ranking is a crucial factor in the selection process, as the apprenticeship program hires candidates based on their rank in the queue.

      The IBEW apprenticeship ranking system is dynamic, which means that your position in the queue can change over time as new applicants join the pool. If an applicant has a higher combined score than yours, they may be ranked above you, even if you have already passed the aptitude test and performed well in the interview. This can lead to an indefinite wait time for some candidates, as their ranking may not be high enough to secure a spot in the program.

      Because of the competitive nature of the ranking system, it’s crucial to thoroughly prepare for both the aptitude test and the interview. By achieving high scores in both assessments, you’ll have a better chance of obtaining a higher ranking, which increases your chances of being selected for the IBEW apprenticeship program.

      To maximize your chances of success, we highly recommend utilizing our prep course for the IBEW Aptitude Test. This course offers in depth written lectures, captivating video lessons, practice quizzes, full length timed exams, and lots of bonus content. Enrolling is 100% risk free, due to our three part guarantee. If you:

      • Are unsatisfied within the first 30 days
      • Fail the exam
      • Or don’t ACE the exam after completing our course

      We will refund 100% of your order, no questions asked!

      Click the button below to instantly access these resources!

      By thoroughly preparing for the IBEW Aptitude Test and the apprenticeship interview, you'll improve your ranking in the queue and increase your chances of getting into the apprenticeship of your choice.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      In this section, we've compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you better understand the IBEW apprenticeship process and clarify any doubts or concerns you might have.

      Is the aptitude test the same for every local?

      Yes, the aptitude test is generally the same for every local, with the exception of Local 134.

      Am I too old to start an apprenticeship?

      No, in fact, many people start the trade as a second career in their mid to late 30s. It's not uncommon to see first-year apprentices in their 40s or even 50s!

      What kind of tools and equipment will I need for the IBEW apprenticeship?

      The training center will provide you with a tool list. Generally, you need simple hand tools.

      Can I work part-time or have a flexible schedule during the apprenticeship?

      No, the apprenticeship is rigorous, requiring full-time work (40 hours) a week plus schooling.

      Are there any financial assistance programs available for apprentices?

      The apprenticeship program is free of cost, except for books in some locals. Military veterans can use the GI Bill to supplement their income.

      What is the duration of the IBEW apprenticeship program?

      The program length varies; For Inside Wiremen (Electricians), the program is 5 years. For Voice-Data-Video (low voltage) Technicians, and for Linemen, the program is 3 years.

      Can I test up into another year in the IBEW apprenticeship?

      Chances are small, but with previous electrical experience, you may be able to. Talk to the training center during your application process.

      Can I transfer to another local during my apprenticeship?

      No, you must remain at your local for the apprenticeship duration. Once you graduate, you can travel between locals freely.

      Are there opportunities for continued education and training after completing the apprenticeship?

      Yes, most locals offer free continuing education courses throughout your career, such as CPR/First Aid, Foreman Training, Bluebeam, Medium Voltage Splicing, and more.

      How competitive is the application process for the IBEW apprenticeship program?

      It varies from local to local, with larger cities like Los Angeles and New York being very competitive, but smaller locals being less so.

      Can I reapply for the apprenticeship program if I'm not selected?

      Yes, if you're not selected for the apprenticeship program, you can reapply. However, you must wait between 6 to 12 months before submitting a new application. This waiting period allows you to gain additional experience, knowledge, or skills that may improve your chances of being selected the next time you apply.

      What happens if I don't pass the aptitude test?

      If you don't pass the aptitude test, you will have the opportunity to retake it after a waiting period of 6 to 12 months, depending on your local's specific requirements. Use this time to further prepare and enhance your knowledge to increase your chances of success in the next attempt.

      How long does the application process take?

      This will vary depending on your local, but for most applicants, expect it to take 2-3 months for the application, aptitude test, and interview to finish before getting placed in the hiring queue.

      Can I apply to multiple locals at the same time?

      Yes, you can apply to multiple locals simultaneously. However you can only accept one apprenticeship program.

      Is it possible to join the IBEW if I'm colorblind?

      Electrical wiring often relies on color-coded connections for proper installation and safety. As a result, it's essential for electricians to accurately distinguish between different colors. Unfortunately, this means that individuals with colorblindness may face challenges when pursuing a career in the IBEW. However, it is important to consult with your local IBEW chapter for specific requirements and potential accommodations.

      Scroll to Top