Career Training for Aspiring Electricians

Becoming an electrician starts with the right education and training. The following are answers to common questions about finding the right electrician schools and programs, financial aid, career projections and more.

How can you spot a good electrician program?

There are many programs for electricians out there, so narrowing down the options can be tough. Begin by looking for a school that is accredited. Accreditation means that the school and/or program has been evaluated and found to meet the standards set forth for educational excellence. Check with local community colleges and universities to see if they offer an electrician training program, as well as local vocational training schools. Electricians aren't required to have a college degree -- most states require that electricians be licensed, but the training is largely done through apprenticeship programs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Are there financial aid resources to help students pay for their education?

In addition to financial aid offered on the state and local levels, scholarships and grants might be offered by the college an aspiring electrician chooses to attend. Numerous organizations offer scholarships, grants, work-study programs and other financial aid resources for qualifying students who plan to enroll in an electrician program. These include:

  • Independent Electrical Contractors Foundation
  • Nexstar Legacy Foundation
  • Union Plus
  • IIEE Power and Energy Society Scholarship Plus Initiative

Are there internships \available to electrician students?

Even after completing an electrician program, students still must go through an apprenticeship before they can qualify to be a licensed electrician. Opting for an internship while continuing in an electrical program can give students a look at how electric or construction companies work, a better understanding of their future role and hands-on skills that can prove useful when the apprenticeship begins. To find internships, begin by looking at your local electric or construction companies. Places like Internships.com can also offer great leads.

Which electrician-related careers are projected to grow at the fastest rate?

Good news for those who want to work as electricians: The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting national job growth of 20 percent from 2012 to 2022 for the profession. Much of that growth is expected be driven by emerging technologies, such as solar power and wind power, that will need to be connected to the electrical grid. As construction of new homes and businesses increases, work for electricians will increase as well. Those with the widest range of skills are likely to see the best job opportunities.

The job growth varies by region, according to state data aggregated by Projections Central. There are states in all four major regions of the country, with the strongest growth projections in the Midwest and West. Here are the electrician job growth projections through 2020:

  • West:Average job growth: 16.98%
  • New jobs: 5,520
  • Top state: Arizona, with 43.2% expected growth

Midwest:

  • Average job growth: 15.91%
  • New jobs: 5,260
  • Top state: Minnesota, with 35.7% expected growth

Northeast

  • Average job growth: 11.79%
  • New jobs: 3,720
  • Top state: New Hampshire, with 21.4% expected growth

South

  • Average job growth: 13.57%
  • New jobs: 8,940
  • Top state: Tennessee, with 24.9% expected growth

Why are electrician programs beneficial for career-minded students?

Working as an electrician can open numerous doors in the construction industry. Aside from following a traditional career path, those with the right training might move into inspection work, construction and planning, line installation, solar power installation and more. Trained electricians can also step away from the traditional path and look for jobs in wind turbine technologies, electrical engineering, office machine repair, HVAC work and even elevator installation. Seasoned electricians looking to boost their careers might also find new positions with the help of further online education, taking advantage of the flexible scheduling to continue in their full-time jobs.

How can you receive additional information about electrician schools or programs?

To learn more about the electrician programs that interest them, students should contact the admissions office and request information on graduation rates, job placement rates for graduates, tuition requirements, financial aid, online or hybrid offerings, and more.

Sources:

Electricians, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/electricians.htm#tab-1

Long Term Data for Electricians through 2020, Projections Central,
http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm

"Foundation Programs," Independent Electrical Contractors Foundation,
http://www.iec-foundation.org/programs.php

"Scholarships," Nexstar Legacy Foundation,
http://nexstarfoundation.org/nlfscholarships/

"College Education Resources," Union Plus,
http://www.unionplus.org/college-education-financing/

"Scholarship Plus Initiative," IEEE Power & Energy Society,
http://www.ee-scholarship.org/

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