With technical schools, community colleges, apprenticeship programs, and even online schools, choosing the right electrician training program can be challenging. You need to find a program that will provide the training you need to becoming a licensed electrician; on the other hand, you probably also have some personal considerations, like budget and schedule, that you need to take into account. As you start to research programs, you will find you have many different options. Here are several factors to consider when choosing an electrician training program.
You might enter into an apprenticeship program from the get-go, or you might take diploma- or degree-track courses at a technical school or community college first. In any case, the apprenticeship is the most important part of your electrician training—this is where you will have the opportunity to learn and practice your skills alongside a licensed electrician. Whatever type of program you choose to pursue, ensure that there is a clearly defined path to apprenticeship.
Most states partner with local unions and businesses to provide training opportunities for aspiring electricians. Participating in an approved program will help ensure that the credential you earn will be recognized by the state in which you live. Visit your state Department of Labor’s website to find a list of approved organizations and institutions.
Licensing—Instructors and students
In most states, electricians must pass a licensing test before they are allowed to work. When researching schools, first ensure that the instructors you will be learning from are themselves licensed electricians. In addition, make sure that the courses you take and the on-the-job training you will receive will help you pass the licensing exam. Many schools have specific courses that help students prepare for the test.
What type of electrical work appeals to you? Do you want to work in residential, commercial, or industrial settings? Are you interested in electrical engineering or manufacturing? Decide the career path you would like to follow and make sure the school’s curriculum aligns with your goals.
Most full electrician training plus apprenticeship programs take four to five years to complete. Although you may be able to finish your academic coursework in a year or two, be wary of any program that promises you will be a full electrician in just a couple of years—this is probably not a state-recognized program.
A degree is not required to work as an electrician. But if you think you might want to earn one in the future, consider starting now with an associate’s degree in applied science. You can always transfer your credits to a four-year institution later on.
The best way to choose an electrician training program is to research the options available and talk to the schools to make sure they will meet your needs. Picking the right program is the first essential step toward your new career.