So much has changed since Benjamin Franklin's famous electrical kite experiment back in 1752. From cooling homes on hot summer days to powering businesses and data centers that provide constant Internet access, electricity is one of the most crucial elements of maintaining the comforts of modern life.
While line workers provide the infrastructure that links electricity generated from power plants to our cities and towns, electricians tie it all in to homes, businesses and factories. Students interested in working as electricians can get the education they need to jump-start their careers by completing an electrical degree program. An associate degree in electrical technology, industrial and commercial wiring or similar area of study can give students the skills needed to find entry-level jobs as electrical apprentices.
The list below represents 10 of the best colleges for electrical degree programs. Read on to learn more about how these electrical degree programs were selected, as well as additional information on financial aid, career outlooks for electricians, and professional organizations for workers in the electrical trades.
Best Colleges for Electrician Degree Programs
We used a unique methodology to rank the following top schools for electrical degree programs using data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. Learn more about the methodology used to generate this list by clicking the button below, or read on to learn more about the best electrical degree programs.
The top school in these rankings is located at Sheldon, Iowa and offers a number of electrical degree programs, including:
- Electrical technology
- Industrial and commercial wiring
- Industrial instrumentation and control
- Powerline technology
The electrical technology program begins each summer and can be completed in two terms. It culminates in an advanced standing Associate of Applied Science degree. The other programs award graduates with an Associate of Applied Science degree, except for powerline installation, which culminates with a diploma. The diploma program requires two semesters and a summer term to complete, while the others require four semesters of study, including a summer term.
Northwest Iowa Community college heads this list of best colleges for electrical degree programs based on a combination of factors. It had the third-highest graduation rate, a favorable open admissions policy, and it was second for the number of electrical-related degrees awarded. As a member of the Iowa Community College Online Consortium, students enrolled at NICC have the option of completing some of their general education and elective requirements online.
This community college located in Orange, Calif. was the leader among all institutions for its low cost of in-state tuition -- $1,142 for a full academic year. Santiago Canyon College also offers the flexibility of night and evening classes, and academic and career counseling for students.
The college's division of business and career technical education offers electrical instruction programs at the certificate and A.S. degree level. SCC also offers a number of apprenticeship programs in electrical studies, including industrial electricity, intelligent electrical transportation systems and sound installer. Programs range in length from 27 to 36 credits and culminate in either a certificate or an associate degree. The apprenticeship programs are for state-indentured electrical apprentices.
Located at Fairfield, Maine, Kennebec Valley Community College is one of seven institutions in the Maine Community College System. The college offers electrical degree programs in the following areas:
- Electrical lineworker technology
- Electrical technology
The electrical lineworker technology option is a one-year certificate program that provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to land entry-level positions in the installation of power, telephone and cable TV systems. The electrical technology program is for students who wish to work as residential, commercial or industrial electricians. It concludes with either a certificate (34 credits) or two-year A.A.S. degree (68 credits). The Associate of Applied Science degree is a full-time, five-day-a-week program, while the certificate can be completed in the evenings.
Kennebec Valley Community College had the third-highest number of electrical degrees awarded to students amongst the 10 institutions in our rankings.
The fourth institution in our list of top colleges for electrical degree programs is a public two-year college in the southwestern Kansas town of Dodge City. The college was founded in 1935 and offers a mix of traditional and vocational education programs.
Dodge City Community College's electrical power technician program prepares students to work as first-year apprentice linemen for overhead and underground electrical utility systems. Coursework is a mix of classroom instruction and hands-on learning. Students can opt for either a certificate of achievement, or an Associate of Applied Science degree.
Tuition at the college was a modest $2,850 for a full year, and the school also has a student-friendly open admissions policy. Dodge City Community College had the fourth-best graduation rate among any institution in this list, and students can expect greater interaction with their instructors due to the college's low 13:1 student-faculty ratio.
Students at Pamlico Community College in Grantsboro, N.C., certainly are dedicated -- at 71 percent, the college boasts the highest graduation rate of any institution in our list of best colleges for electrical degree programs. Pamilco Community College also has the most favorable student to faculty ratio at 9:1, so students can expect to receive a more personalized educational experience from their instructors.
Students can pursue either a certificate or Associate in Science degree in electrical systems technology from Pamlico. The program trains students in the principles and installation methods of residential, industrial and commercial electrical systems. Students learn the basics of wiring, industrial motor controls, blueprint reading and other important aspects of the trade.
Pamlico Community College also offers individual technical training courses in electrical wiring for working apprentices who want to bolster their trade skills.
Located near the bustling Central Business District of Los Angeles, LATTC has the second-lowest cost of tuition among any institution in these rankings at $1,220 per year.
The college offers several different degree paths for aspiring electricians. Students can pursue either certificates, Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degrees in the following:
- Electrical construction and maintenance-electrician
- Electrical construction and maintenance-construction technician
The A.S. electrician pathway is a daytime program, while the A.A. construction technician program runs in the evenings. Students must complete a minimum of 60 semester units in either degree program. Certificate programs require between 40 and 42 semester units. The A.S. degree is for students who seek entry-level positions, while the A.A. degree is for working students seeking to increase their knowledge in the field.
This two-year public college in Asheboro, N.C. offers several different certificate options in electrical systems technology, as well as diploma and A.A.S. degree pathways. Curriculum provides students with the skills needed for entry-level positions or apprenticeships as residential, industrial or commercial electricians. Coursework includes hands-on instruction in AC/DC theory, wiring practices and motor controls. Students also learn the applications of the National Electrical Code. The diploma is expected to take one year of fulltime study to complete, while the Associate of Applied Science degree requires two years of fulltime study. Students can complete certain degree requirements, such as their general education and required electives, online to reduce the amount of time spent on campus.
Tuition at Randolph Community College is a modest $1,912 a year, and students enjoy greater interaction with their instructors due to the college's excellent 11:1 faculty-student ratio.
The eighth institution in our rankings hails from the town of Mitchell in southeastern South Dakota. Mitchell Technical Institute provides instruction in a wide range of technical careers, including:
- Power line construction and maintenance
- Electrical utilities & substation technology
- Utilities technology
- Wind turbine technology
The power line construction pathway is a one-year diploma program that requires 41.5 credits to complete. The 43-credit electrical utilities and substation program can be completed in three semesters and culminates in an Associate of Applied Science degree. The blended utilities technology pathway combines instruction in two areas: electrical specialties, and study in either natural gas technology, heating and cooling or GPS mapping. The program also awards an A.A.S. degree to graduates.
An average of 70 percent of Mitchell Technical Institute students complete their studies and graduate, the second-best graduation rate in our top 10. The college also has a low 12:1 student to faculty ratio, and it was the leader for number of electrical-related degrees awarded.
Northeast Community College has a flagship campus at Norfolk, Neb., and extended campus locations at South Sioux City, O'Neill and West Point. NCC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in electrical construction and control for students interested in the basic principles of electrical wiring installation and maintenance of electrical equipment and electronics.
Coursework includes study in the National Electrical Code, cost estimating, blueprints, motor controls, motor theory, automation fundamentals, wiring and related subjects. Classes run Monday through Thursday. Students must complete 67 total credit hours to satisfy degree requirements; however, many general education and elective courses can be completed through Northeast Online, the college's portal for distance education.
NCC also offers an A.A.S. degree in electromechanical technology for students interested in working on the electrical aspects of mechanical controls in manufacturing processes and a wide range of equipment, from elevator controls to vending machines to guided missile systems.
Rounding out our top 10 colleges for electrical degree programs is East Mississippi Community College of Scooba, Miss. EMCC serves a six-country district with an additional campus location at Mayhew and learning centers at Columbus, Meridian Naval Air Station, Macon and West Point.
East Mississippi Community College offers a one-year vocational certificate and a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in electrical technology. Coursework includes study in programmable logic controllers, electrical wiring for commercial, industrial and residential jobs, reading blueprints, cost estimation and many other topics. Both programs are offered at the college's Golden Triangle campus in Mayhew.
EMCC's division of manufacturing technology & engineering also provides workforce training in a wide range of technical areas, including electrical. The college makes our rankings based on a combination of factors, including graduation and admissions rate, low student to faculty ratio (13:1) and the flexibility of evening and weekend classes.
Electrician Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
A certificate, diploma or associate degree are the most common postsecondary options for students interested in electrical careers. Students who complete electrical degree programs typically are prepared for entry-level jobs or apprenticeships.
Career Outlook for Electricians Majors
Like most construction trades, employment in the electrical trade ebbs and flows with the national economy. When the U.S. is in a bull market, construction employment booms. When it contracts, so too does trade employment. Despite these fluctuations, employment of all tradesmen is still expected to be strong - construction is one of the major employment industries in the U.S. Here's a look at some careers in the electrical trades for students who graduate from electrical degree programs.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers||$71,960||111,660||8%|
|Electric Motor, Power Tool, and Related Repairers||$46,620||15,890||3.4%|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Electricians
Students enrolled in electrical degree programs can often access federal financial aid to help pay for college. There are also many industry-specific scholarships dedicated to helping aspiring tradespeople. For instance, Home Advisor offers a $5,000 scholarship to help solve America's skilled labor shortage problem. The National Association for Electrical Contractors awarded 29 scholarships, and the Independent Electrical Contractors association also has a foundation that regularly awards scholarships to qualified students.
Recipient must maintain acceptable academic standing and full-time status to retain fellowship.
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.0 GPA.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015