If you are going to become an electrician then sooner or later you will come face to face with the NEC code book. The code book lists just about every thing that an electrician is likely to come into contact with from figuring what size and type of material that you will need to how you are allowed to run each circuit and how to hook it up. I found it really interesting.
There is a new code book published every three years with all of the updates to the code, published by the NFPA or national fire protection association. I found that it was surprising that the code actually carries no weight until your local state, county, or city adopts it as law in its jurisdictions, and again this varies from state to state as to when and what edition of the code that is enforced, just like we have discussed about licensing being different in a lot of states. So some states may have the 2011 national electrical code book as mandatory while another state may still be enforcing the 2008 NEC code book, or your state may be enforcing a combination of both.
When you are studying to become an electrician one of your classes will probably be on understanding the NEC electrical code book. If you’re taking a course or are in an apprenticeship program then this will probably be in a classroom setting where you’ll be able to ask questions of the teacher and the other students, but what if you’re studying on your own, should you rush right out and buy your own copy of the code book. In my opinion I don’t think so.
I have always found that it is easier to learn visually than just looking at text. I have a copy of the 2005 NEC code book sitting here in front of me now. This book has very few illustrations and it is mostly just dry text and calculations. You will probably end up with your own copy of the code book eventually just as a reference. My suggestion is to get a good book that explains the code or a code exam preparation book that has lots of good illustrations to help you understand the concepts. I also have in front of me here what I think is a good exam preparation guide put out by Mike Holt. I got this book while taking a master electrician’s exam preparation course. This type of book has many illustrations to help you understand the concepts that are needed to follow along with the exam questions.
This book covers everything from basic math and formulas all of the way through to the more advanced questions that will be on the exam, all with illustrations helping me to understand what the code requirements are, and the questions that will be on the exam. Now I may not be the smartest one around but I find the illustrations really help me understand what they’re trying to say. As this is the exam preparation book it also has practice exams after each chapter.
The Mike Holt series of books are good and you can buy a single book or a complete series giving you the whole course. But his are not the only good books out there that can help you understand the code. There are many good titles so just look around for one that suits you, and good luck with your studies.