Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.

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Apprentice FAQs

What is an Apprentice?

An Apprentice is an individual who is indentured to/registered with either the State of California or the Federal Department of Labor. Apprenticeship combines on the job training and classroom instruction.

What is an Electrician?

Electricians install, connect, test, and maintain electrical systems for a variety of purposes, including climate control, security, and communications. They also may install and maintain the electronic controls for machines in business and industry. Although most electricians specialize in construction or maintenance, a growing number do both.

Electricians work with blueprints when they install electrical systems in factories, office buildings, homes, and other structures. Blueprints indicate the locations of circuits, outlets, load centers, panel boards, and other equipment. Electricians must follow the National Electric Code and comply with State and local building codes when they install these systems. In factories and offices, they first place conduit (pipe or tubing) inside designated partitions, walls, or other concealed areas. They also fasten to the walls small metal or plastic boxes that will house electrical switches and outlets. They then pull insulated wires or cables through the conduit to complete circuits between these boxes. In lighter construction, such as residential, plastic-covered wire usually is used instead of conduit.

Electricians' work is sometimes strenuous. They bend conduit, stand for long periods, and frequently work on ladders and scaffolds. Their working environment varies, depending on the type of job. Some may work in dusty, dirty, hot, or wet conditions, or in confined areas, ditches, or other uncomfortable places. Electricians risk injury from electrical shock, falls, and cuts; to avoid injuries, they must follow strict safety procedures. Some electricians may have to travel great distances to jobsites.

Learn more about what working as an electrician is like by visiting WECA's YouTube Channel and watching the "WECA Electrician Career" video.

What's a Low Voltage (Voice/Data/Video & Fire/Life/Safety) Technician?

Low voltage technicians test, service, and maintain low voltage electronic and control systems equipment. These systems are classified as "low voltage" not because they present zero risk of electric shock, but because they operate at 50 volts or less. There is a reduced risk of electric arcs transmitted through the air when working with low voltage equipment.

Technicians are often divided into two categories: Voice Data Video technicians (or VDV techs), and Fire Life Safety technicians (or FLS techs).

Voice Data Video technicians establish communications systems by installing, operating, and maintaining voice, data, and video telecommunications network circuits and equipment. In other words, VDV techs are cable pros! They run, pull, terminate, and splice cables for everything from file servers to telephone rooms, to the internet. If you use it to communicate or watch cat videos on YouTube, a VDV tech has probably made it possible.

Fire Life Safety technicians work on proprietary systems related to fire, life, and safety. All the systems they work on are covered under the National Electrical Code, article 760, and the National Fire Alarm Code. These systems can include (but are not limited to): nurse call systems, integrated security systems, fire alarm and fire suppression systems. FLS techs keep us safe on a daily basis.

4000 hours of work are also required to become a VDV or FLS tech.

What types of apprenticeship programs does WECA offer?

WECA offers Low Voltage Apprenticeship, Residential Electrical Apprenticeship, and Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship in California. Learn more about those programs here.

WECA offers Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship in Arizona. Learn more about that program here.

WECA offers Commercial Electrical Apprenticeship in Utah. Learn more about that program here.

Does WECA offer health benefits for apprentices?

WECA offers medical, dental, disability and life insurance benefits to commercial apprentices indentured in a WECA apprenticeship program, and their families. Available provider options vary based on where the apprentice lives.

Can I check my grades online? How about my class schedules and textbook lists?

Yes. Just log in to the WECA website. Apprentices can see their own grades, schedules, book lists, etc.

What’s the difference between an Apprentice and an Electrician Trainee?

An apprentice is someone indentured in a federal or state-approved apprenticeship program. Contractors are required to employ apprentices on State public works projects at a ratio of one apprentice hour worked for every five journeyman hours worked. 

WECA offers three electrician apprentice programs: Commercial, Residential and Sound and Communication Installer (Voice-Data-Video (VDV) & Fire/Life/Safety (FLS)). For more information on how apprenticeship rules work, or to inquire about how to become WECA apprentice, please contact us at info@goweca.com or (877) 444-9322.

A trainee is an electrician who is not yet a certified journeyman and not indentured in an apprenticeship program. California’s electrician certification law requires anyone performing work in the field for a C-10 electrical contractor to fall into one of these three categories: certified journeyman, indentured apprentice, or an electrician trainee registered with the state. If you work for a C-10 contractor and are performing electrical work in the field and DO NOT fall into one of these three categories, that is a violation of the electrician certification law and your contractor employer runs the risk of incurring fines and penalties from the CSLB, up to and including suspension of the contractor’s license.

In addition to registering with the state, trainees must also be actively attending courses with a State-approved school or training provider, such as WECA.

Are there any scholarships available to help with the cost of books, tools, fees and/or tuition?

The Western Electrical Contractors Foundation (WECEF) periodically awards scholarships to eligible Electrician Trainees, Apprentices, and Journeyman Continuing Education students. You can learn more about eligibility and the application process on the WECEF Scholarship page