As a student interested in becoming an electrician, you have several training options available to you. Most electricians get the bulk of their training through an apprenticeship program, which combines classroom time with extensive on-the-job experience. Some students choose to attend a technical school first, and some even earn an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. In the end, the right option for you depends on your career goals. To help you make the best choice for your future, here is a brief review of the various types of organizations that offer electrician training programs.
Vocational or Technical Schools
A vocational or technical school, also called a trade school, is an institution dedicated to preparing workers to enter into various trades, like construction. Typically, vocational or technical schools offer certificates or diplomas, but not full degrees. In the construction trade, many vocational or technical schools have partnerships with local electrical contractors to provide students with apprenticeship opportunities.
Community colleges offer two-year associate’s degree programs and sometimes shorter diploma or certificate programs. The main difference between a technical school and a community college is that students at community colleges are required to take a certain number of general education courses to earn their degree. In addition, the credits earned at a community college can later be transferred to a four-year university. Again, many of these programs work in partnership with organizations that offer apprenticeships.
Many trades unions offer their own apprenticeship programs. For example, many chapters of the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers partner with local technical schools and employers to provide apprenticeship opportunities. These programs can take up to five years to complete and must be approved by the state in which they operate.
Finally, many employers sponsor apprenticeship programs. To become an apprenticeship sponsor, the employer must agree to provide paid supervised on-the-job training as well as cover some of the financial costs of the required classroom training. Often, these courses are held at local vocational or technical schools or community colleges.
As you can see, there are several directions from which to enter the electrician field, but in the end the basic training path is always the same: academic coursework combined with on-the-job training. Whether you start at a technical school, earn an associate’s degree, or get sponsored by your employer depends on your work situation and your career goals. In any case, all of these paths will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to take your state licensing test to become an electrician. The number of jobs available for qualified electricians is expected to increase by 20 percent in the next several years, so now is a great time to begin your educational journey.
Wyotech. Electrician program.
Kirtland Community College. Electrical technology degrees.
California Apprenticeship Coordinators Association. Electrician apprenticeship.
Vermont Department of Labor. Apprenticeship.