How to Become an Electrician in Birmingham Alabama
The initial step to learning to be an electrical contractor or tradesman is enrolling in an electrician trade school near Birmingham AL. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are a number of variables to consider. For example, many students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their home. When they have identified several that are within driving distance, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though location and cost are important, they are not the sole factors that need to be evaluated. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifications should contribute toward your ultimate judgment when selecting an electrician trade school. We will talk about that checklist in more detail later in this post. But first, let’s talk a little bit about being an electrician and the instructional choices that are available.
Electrician Degree, Diploma and Certificate Programs near Birmingham AL
There are three general approaches to obtain electrician training in a vocational or trade school near Birmingham AL. You can choose a diploma or certificate program, or obtain an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are obtainable at a few schools, but are not as common as the other three alternatives. In many cases these programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship, which are required by most states to be licensed or if you would like to become certified. Following are brief descriptions of the 3 most common programs offered.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by Alabama trade and technical schools and require about a year to finish. They furnish a solid foundation and are geared towards individuals who would like to enter an apprenticeship faster as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degree Programs take 2 years to finish and are offered by Alabama junior or community colleges, commonly as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They furnish a more well-rounded education while providing the foundation that prepares students to enter into their apprenticeship program.
As earlier mentioned, Bachelor’s Degrees are accessible at certain Alabama colleges, but are less popular at 4 years than the other shorter programs. Most states require that an apprenticeship of no less than 2 years and more typically four years be performed prior to licensing. Because of that, most students are anxious to start their paid apprenticeship, especially if it’s not a component of their educational program.
Electrician Licensing and Certification Requirements
Electricians in Birmingham AL can perform a vast array of functions, such as testing, installing and replacing electrical systems, and ensuring that the wiring in buildings and homes are up to code standards. After finishing an apprenticeship, journeyman electricians are required to be licensed in the majority of municipalities and states. The length of apprenticeship varies by state, but usually about four to five years of prior experience is called for before taking the licensing exam. The exams commonly test general knowledge and electrical theory, as well as knowledge of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Receiving certification is also an optional means for an electrician to differentiate him or herself as a skilled and experienced professional. The certifications available differ by state and can be obtained in several specialties, such as cable splicing as an example. The certification procedure usually involves 3 levels of proficiency:
- An experience requirement
- Passing a written exam
- Passing a practical exam
Examples of certifying agencies include the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) as well as the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). It’s crucial that the electrician trade school that you enroll in not only provides a strong educational foundation, but also helps ready you for passing any certification and licensing exams that you might be required to take in the future.
Enrolling in Electrician Programs Online in Birmingham AL
A possibility that you might have looked at is selecting an electrician online program to earn a certificate or degree. Even though online training programs are becoming more accepted as a means of attending class without the need for travel, in this instance they are not entirely internet based. Pretty much all electrician schools require partial attendance on campus to get hands-on practical training. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, internet learning may be a more practical alternative for students that have limited time for schooling. And as an added benefit many online schools have a lower tuition cost compared to their on campus counterparts. Driving expenses from Birmingham AL are also lessened and a portion of the study materials may be available online also. All of these advantages can make online electrician vocational schools more economical and accessible. And a number are fully accredited, which we will cover in our questions to ask checklist.
Topics to Ask Electrician Training Schools
Now that you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Since there are so many electrician tech and trade schools in the Birmingham AL area, it’s essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. If you have an interest in earning an degree online, then that needs to be an option that your final school offers. And even though all three qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are additional variables that must be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze before selecting an electrical vocational school.
Accreditation. Numerous electrician trade programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Verify that the Birmingham AL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you get a superior education, it can assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states require that the electrician training program be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion and Placement Rates. Ask the electrician schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could suggest that students were unhappy with the course and quit. It could also signify that the instructors were not competent to train the students. It’s also essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help Birmingham AL students secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of electrician technical programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of electrical contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with Birmingham AL area electricians or electrical companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the electrical technician you are working with concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Birmingham AL electrical company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you can move, the school needs to be within commuting distance of your Birmingham home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Birmingham AL, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Birmingham AL?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Birmingham AL area.
Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city located in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2017 population of 210,710, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2017, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,149,807, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three pre-existing farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and, at the time, a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could be employed in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.:14
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it nicknames such as "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.
Choose the Right Electrician Tech School near Birmingham AL
Selecting the ideal electrical trade school will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are looking at. It’s a must that any electrician training program that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every program offers different options for certification as well. Probably The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, the end result will be a new career as a professional electrician in Birmingham AL.
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