Some types of electrician jobs, such as electrical engineering technicians, require students to have at least a bachelor’s degree. In addition, some states may require certain electricians to have higher levels of education. Be sure to check the education requirements in your state so you can be sure you are getting the right training you need for your career.
Associate of Applied Science Degree
A typical associate’s degree takes about two years to complete. Students in associate’s degree programs take many of the same courses as those in two-year diploma programs, covering electrical theory; residential, commercial, and industrial wiring; computer applications; blueprint reading; construction skills; and more. The main difference between the coursework for a two-year diploma and that for an associate’s degree is the general education courses. All associate’s degree programs require students to take a certain number of credits in subjects like the arts and humanities.
The credits earned in associate’s degree programs, which are usually offered by community colleges, are also generally transferable to a four-year college or university, for students who may eventually want to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Many associate’s degree programs work in partnership with apprenticeship programs so that students earn their degree before beginning their practical training as an apprentice.
There are some specialization certificates that electricians may pursue through continuing education courses. For example, students may earn post-degree certificates in electrical installation or maintenance, electrical codes and standards, advanced construction and maintenance, and more. Students interested in working with electronic systems can also pursue specialized certificates in this area. In general these certificates require anywhere from 12 to 32 credits and are generally intended as programs for experienced electricians and construction workers.
Four-Year and Graduate Degrees
Finally, students interested in earning a bachelor’s or higher-level degree can pursue a program in electrical engineering. Keep in mind, however, that the work of electrical engineers is much different from that of electricians. Electrical and electronics engineers design and develop electrical and electronic equipment; they don’t work on construction projects. Most electricians who choose to go this route do so after they have already earned their electrician credentials. But for most people who want to become electricians, a degree at this level is not necessary—getting technical training and completing an apprenticeship program is all you need to launch your career as an electrician.
Over the past two articles, we’ve reviewed some of the main types of credentials available for aspiring electricians. Keep in mind that these credentials, and the classroom learning involved in earning them, are only part of the training required—the bulk of your education will come from completing an apprenticeship, which will be the target of another article in this series.
Dakota County Technical College. Electrical construction and maintenance technology – A.A.S. degree.
Red Rocks Community College. Electricity commercial/industrial/residential certificates.