Electrician Trade Schools
Electricians perform many tasks, such as installing wiring, fixing equipment, and following regulations. Employers need these highly trained workers to keep their businesses running. Professionals can enter this field by completing an apprenticeship or enrolling in trade school. Learners study topics like electrical conduit bending and programmable logic controllers.
The electrician field offers industrial, commercial, and residential tracks. Aspiring electricians can prepare for jobs by taking specific classes and working with a career advisor. This article explains how to become an electrician. Read on to learn about common classes in electrician programs and licensure requirements.
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Questions About Becoming a Electrician
How many years does it take to become an electrician?
Electricians need significant hands-on training. Earning a certificate from an electrician program typically takes 12 months or less. Electricians then complete an apprenticeship.
Do electricians make good money?
Electricians earn a median $56,900 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
What qualifications do I need to be an electrician?
Electricians need more than a college certificate or apprenticeship to work. Many states require electricians to hold a license. Some workers earn a professional certification to increase their career potential.
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Why Become an Electrician?
The BLS projects jobs for electricians to grow 9% from 2020-2030, which is about as fast as average for all occupations. The profession’s other benefits include specializing in lighting systems or solar panel installation and maintenance.
Electrician schools require hands-on training, so none offer a fully online curriculum. However, they may feature a hybrid format. Enrollees may complete some requirements at home. This flexibility lets students schedule some of their education around work or family.
How Much Does an Electrician Degree Cost?
Electrician schools charge a per-semester or per-credit tuition rate. An affordable full-time program costs $1,000 or less per semester. Students can find the cheapest tuition at in-state public junior colleges and trade schools. Out-of-state learners may pay more than double the in-state rate. However, most students in a certificate program graduate in one semester. Learners earning an associate may need a year or more.
Aspiring electricians should budget for more than typical college expenses. States requiring a license charge an examination fee. As of March 2022, California residents pay $175 in exam fees. California and other states’ fees may rise at any time. Check a state licensure board website for the latest information.
How Much Do Electricians Make?
Electricians earn more than the median for all occupations, according to the BLS. Many factors influence salary, including professionals’ industry and geographic location. Employers in the government and manufacturing sectors pay electricians the most. Additionally, electricians working in Hawaii, New York, and Illinois earn more than their peers in other states.
Continuing education (CE) helps electricians maintain their license. CE also lets them improve their skills and learn new ones. These highly trained electricians pursue career opportunities with a higher salary. Electricians with professional certifications also earn more.
Courses in an Electrician Program
Electrician schools prepare students for paid apprenticeships. Classes in certificate programs may include residential electrical installation, commercial electrical installation, and electrical motor control. Lab projects require learners to master typical equipment, practice installing hardware, and troubleshoot problems. A final project may involve working as a team to wire a simulated home.
See below for three common classes in electrician programs. Please note that class topics, academic expectations, and graduate outcomes vary by program. Learners should compare programs closely before enrolling. Admissions counselors can answer questions and provide additional information.
Residential Electrical Installation
Homeowners and renters rely on electricians to maintain hardware. This class trains students to wire homes and install different electrical devices. Learners follow national electrical code standards when completing projects. These standards ensure electricians and their clients’ safety. Learning outcomes include performing different electrical bends and fixing electrical panels.
Commercial Electrical Installation
Commercial electricians specialize in equipment specific to commercial buildings, such as fluorescent lightning. They also know how to work with high voltages. This class requires students to practice typical job duties and further develop the skills they learned in residential electrical installation. Professionals use what they learned in this class to manage large-scale electrical projects.
Electrical Motor Control
Residential, commercial, and industrial technicians work on projects involving AC or DC motors. This class introduces learners to these systems and how electricians service them. Classwork involves examining elevator systems, factories, and other job sites where electricians maintain motors. This class lets students gain new skills while exploring different job opportunities.
Specializations in Electrician Programs
Specializations let students pursue their passions and prepare for the workforce. Some electrician schools call specializations concentrations or tracks. A specialization involves advanced coursework in one area, such as highway systems or maintenance. Learners graduate with the foundational knowledge and skills necessary for an accelerated apprenticeship.
See below for some potential specializations in electrician programs. Please note that schools without specializations still let students customize their education through electives. Enrollment or academic counselors can share how these choices affect the educational experience and career outcomes.
Street lights and crosswalks make up just a few of the electrical devices drivers and pedestrians see on the road. Highway systems electricians maintain these electronics. These professionals may need a specialized certification or license, even if their state requires a general license for all electricians. This additional training helps them keep roadways safe.
Modern cars contain many electrical systems, such as the radio, starter, and air conditioner. Automotive electricians-in-training learn how to use industry software to diagnose and fix problems. These software suites help professionals improve cars’ performance and lifespan. Graduates may work at car dealerships or repair centers.
Factories and other manufacturing centers hire maintenance technicians to keep machinery running. The job involves more than fixing machines. These electricians also perform inspections and maintain paperwork. The latter helps them identify aging machinery needing repair or replacement. Their job also involves recommending new equipment to senior managers.
How to Become an Electrician
Becoming an electrician involves education and training. Aspiring professionals need a high school or GED diploma. Some learners enroll in a college certificate program or earn an associate degree. The latter appeals to students wanting to learn transferable skills. Certificates and degrees require classes in safety, electrical theory, and code requirements. Others go directly into a paid apprenticeship program.
A typical day on the job involves many responsibilities. Electricians may analyze blueprints, use testing devices, and replace faulty wiring. Experienced electricians oversee apprentices and less-experienced employees. These workers also collaborate with architects, engineers, and other professionals. Job duties vary by specialization.
Licensure for Electricians
Licensure requirements vary by state. In California, electricians working for licensed contractors need a state-issued license. California offers many licensure pathways for general electricians. Candidates need at least 8,000 hours of experience. Professionals gain this experience in an apprenticeship and other supervised work experiences. Workers without this experience can satisfy the requirement by earning a college certificate or an associate degree.
Licensure candidates meeting the experience requirement take a multiple-choice exam. California offers exams for general electrician, residential electrician, and other specializations. Test-takers pass by earning a 70% or higher. California provides licensure candidates with sample questions and offers the exam in English and Spanish.
California electricians renew their license every three years. Requirements include at least 2,000 hours of employment during that time. Electricians must also complete 32 CE units from approved providers. As of March 2022, the state charges a $100 renewal fee.
Best Electrician Schools and Programs
Washburn Institute of Technology
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Located in Topeka, Kansas, Washburn Tech is part of Washburn University, which serves more than 6,000 students. The university provides career-specific training in a format that fits students’ lifestyles. Washburn Tech offers an online electrician degree to help future professionals enter this rewarding, hands-on career field.
Washburn Tech’s electrical technology career program prepares students to work in electrical maintenance and construction. Open to high schoolers and adults, the half-day program takes two semesters to complete. Courses include print reading, commercial wiring, residential wiring, national electrical code II, and international residential code. Upon completing the program, students can pursue professional licensure.
Admission to the electrician program requires an applied math score of six and a reading for information score of five on the Accuplacer.
Washburn Tech is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, and the program is accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.
Pamlico Community College
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A public community college located in Grantsboro, North Carolina, PCC serves about 600 students. The school provides career-ready programs, including an electrician degree.
PCC’s electrical systems technology program involves hands-on training in basic wiring practices, conduit bending, and industrial motor controls. Major courses include codes and standards, digital electronics, construction math, and programmable logic controllers.
The 67-credit program can lead to an associate degree along with certification in career readiness, an OSHA-10 card, and an NCCER national registry listing. Applicants need a high school diploma or its equivalent and may need to take a placement test to determine the right math and English course sequence.
PCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the electrician program is accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.
Salina Area Technical College
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Situated in Salina, Kansas, SATC is a public technical college of about 800 students. The school offers associate degrees along with career preparation certificates, and learners can pursue an electrician degree over two years.
SATC’s electrical technology career program equips students with the skills to calculate accurately; use appropriate electrical terminology; and interpret blueprints, diagrams, and schematics. Courses include technical math, commercial wiring, blueprint reading, and tech writing. Upon graduation, students can pursue jobs as journeyman electricians, water plant electricians, or electrical and instrumentation technicians. The 60-credit program leads to an associate degree.
Applicants should hold a high school diploma or its equivalent and earn acceptable scores on the ACT, SAT, or Accuplacer. Prospective students with college credits earned at another accredited school may transfer courses completed with a 2.0 GPA or higher.
SATC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Central Louisiana Technical Community College
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A public community college located in Alexandria, Louisiana, CLTCC provides work-ready education to about 2,000 students across eight campuses. The college’s programs include a 45-credit electrician degree.
CLTCC’s electrician technology career program provides future electricians with a technical diploma and competency certificates in seven areas, including industrial electrician, solar systems, and commercial wiring. Courses include electrical raceways, blueprint interpretation, technical mathematics for electricians, and introduction to programmable logic controllers. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA to graduate.
The electrician program requires 1,350 hours to complete. By taking 15 credits per semester, students can finish the program in about two years. Admission requires a high school diploma, GED, or HiSET along with ACT, SAT, or Accuplacer scores.
CLTCC is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education.
Altierus Career College
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Located in Tampa, Florida, Alterius offers career-focused education for in-demand industries to about 1,200 students. The college’s electrician degree features a blend of online and on-campus learning.
Students in the college’s electrical construction technician trade program learn to install, maintain, and repair electrical systems. Courses include electrical theory, electric motors, electrical craft skills, and transformers and power distribution. The 58-credit curriculum takes nine months to complete and requires students to attend on-campus learning experiences three days per week. Learners spend 420 hours in the classroom and 260 hours in the lab. By studying an extra three months, learners can add training as industrial electrical technicians.
Alterius is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, and the electrician program is accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.