How to Become an Electrician in Decatur Alabama
The first step to learning to be an electrical contractor or tradesman is finding an electrician trade school near Decatur AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially since there are a number of factors to evaluate. For instance, some potential students will begin by looking for schools that are nearby their residence. Once they have located a few that are within commuting distance, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. While cost and location are significant, they are not the only factors that must be evaluated. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should contribute toward your final decision when selecting an electrician school. We will talk about that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let’s review a little bit about being an electrician and the educational options that are available.
Electrician Certificate, Diploma and Degree Options near Decatur AL
There are multiple options to receive electrician instruction in a trade or technical school near Decatur AL. You can choose a certificate or diploma program, or obtain an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are obtainable at certain schools, but are not as common as the first three options. In many cases these programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program, which are mandated by the majority of states to become licensed or if you want to become certified. Following are short summaries of the three most prevalent programs offered.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are typically provided by Alabama trade and technical schools and take about a year to finish. They provide a good foundation and are geared towards students who would like to enter an apprenticeship faster as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degree Programs take two years to complete and are offered by Alabama junior or community colleges, commonly as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They offer a more well-rounded education while providing the foundation that readies students to join their apprenticeship program.
As earlier stated, Bachelor’s Degrees are offered at certain Alabama colleges, but are less popular at 4 years than the other shorter programs. Many states require that an apprenticeship of at least 2 years and in most cases four years be performed before licensing. For that reason, most students are anxious to start their paid apprenticeship, especially if it’s not part of their educational program.
Electrician Certification and Licensing Requirements
Electricians in Decatur AL can undertake a wide range of tasks, including installing, replacing and testing 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 become licensed in the majority of municipalities and states. The period of apprenticeship differs by state, but generally around four to five years of prior experience is called for before taking the licensing examination. The exams usually assess electrical theory and general knowledge, as well as understanding of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Receiving certification is also an optional way for an electrician to identify him or herself as a experienced and skilled professional. The certifications available vary by state and can be obtained in numerous specializations, such as cable splicing as an example. The certification procedure usually includes three levels of competency:
- An experience requirement
- Passing a written exam
- Passing a practical exam
Examples of certifying organizations include the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) along with the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). It’s crucial that the electrician vocational school that you choose not only delivers a strong educational foundation, but also helps prepare you for passing any certification and licensing exams that you might need to take in the future.
Attending Electrician Online Programs in Decatur AL
A possibility that you might have looked at is enrolling in an electrician online school to earn a certificate or degree. Even though online training programs are becoming more prevalent as a way of attending class without the need for travel, in this situation they are not completely internet based. Virtually all electrician training programs require some attendance on-campus to receive hands-on practical training. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, internet learning might be a more accommodating alternative for individuals that have minimal time for education. And as a bonus numerous online degree programs have a reduced tuition cost compared to their traditional competitors. Commuting expenses from Decatur AL are also reduced and some of the study materials can be accessed on line as well. Each of these benefits can make online electrician trade schools more affordable and accessible. And many are fully accredited, which we will deal with in our due diligence checklist.
Questions to Ask Electrician Technical Schools
Now that you have decided to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to refine your training options. Since there are numerous electrician tech and trade schools in the Decatur AL region, it’s important to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must meet. The first two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. If you have an interest in earning an online degree, then that must be a feature that your chosen school offers. And while all three qualifiers may be important when making your decision, there are other factors that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before choosing an electrical technical school.
Accreditation. Numerous electrician vocational schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Decatur AL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states require that the electrician training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion and Placement Rates. Ask the electrician schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the course. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were unhappy with the course and dropped out. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help Decatur AL graduates secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many electrician vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of electrical contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are considering have working partnerships with Decatur AL area electricians or electrical contractors. An apprenticeship not only provides a valuable experience by providing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the electrical specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Decatur AL electrical contractor if they can provide some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Decatur residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Decatur AL, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family issues.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Decatur AL?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Decatur AL area.
Decatur is a city in Morgan and Limestone counties in the State of Alabama. The city, nicknamed "The River City", is located in Northern Alabama on the banks of Wheeler Lake, along the Tennessee River. It is the largest city and county seat of Morgan County. The population in 2010 was 55,683.
Decatur is also the core city of the two-county large Decatur, Alabama metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 153,374 in 2013. Combined with the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, the two create the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, of which Decatur is the second-largest city.
Like many southern cities in the early 19th century, Decatur's early success was based upon its location along a river. Railroad routes and boating traffic pushed the city to the front of North Alabama's economic atmosphere. The city rapidly grew into a large economic center within the Tennessee Valley and was a hub for travelers and cargo between Nashville and Mobile, as well as Chattanooga and New Orleans. Throughout the 20th century, the city experienced steady growth, but was eclipsed as the regional economic center by the fast-growing Huntsville during the space race. The city now finds its economy heavily based on manufacturing, cargo transit, and high-tech industries such as General Electric and United Launch Alliance.
Pick the Ideal Electrical Vocational School near Decatur AL
Choosing the best electrical training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have discussed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It’s a must that any electrician tech school that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world perspective, and the training program should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the type of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Every training program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps The ideal approach to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you choose is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional electrician in Decatur AL.
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