How to Become an Electrician in Florence Alabama
The initial step to becoming an electrical contractor or tradesman is enrolling in an electrician trade school near Florence AL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the ideal one? Especially because there are so many points to consider. For example, many students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their home. Once they have identified a few that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole things that should be examined. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should help mold your ultimate judgment when choosing an electrician training school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this article. But first, let’s talk a little bit about becoming an electrician and the training options that are offered.
Electrician Degree, Diploma and Certificate Programs near Florence AL
There are three general options to receive electrician instruction in a vocational or trade school near Florence AL. You can choose a diploma or certificate program, or receive an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are offered at a few schools, but are not as common as the first three options. Frequently these programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program, which are mandated by the majority of states in order to be licensed or if you wish to become certified. Following are short summaries of the three most common programs available.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by Alabama technical and trade schools and require approximately a year to complete. They provide a good foundation and are geared towards those who want to get into an apprenticeship more quickly as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degree Programs involve 2 years to complete and are offered by Alabama junior or community colleges, usually as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They provide a more comprehensive education while providing the foundation that readies students to enter into their apprenticeship program.
As previously mentioned, Bachelor’s Degree programs are offered at some Alabama institutions, but are less popular at four years than the other shorter programs. Most states mandate that an apprenticeship of no less than 2 years and in most cases four years be performed before licensing. Because of that, most students are anxious to start their paid apprenticeship, particularly if it’s not part of their academic program.
Electrician Licensing and Certification Guidelines
Electricians in Florence AL can undertake a vast array of functions, including testing, installing and replacing electrical systems, and making sure that the wiring in buildings and homes comply with code standards. After finishing an apprenticeship, journeyman electricians are required to become licensed in most municipalities and states. The period of apprenticeship differs by state, but typically about four to five years of experience is called for before taking the licensing exam. The exams usually test general knowledge and electrical theory, as well as understanding of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Obtaining certification is also an optional way for an electrician to identify her or himself as a skilled and experienced professional. The certifications available vary by state and may be acquired in many specialties, including cable splicing as an example. The certification process in most cases involves three 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) and also the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). It’s imperative that the electrician trade school that you choose not only delivers a solid academic foundation, but also helps prepare you for passing any licensing and certification examinations that you may need to take in the future.
Attending Electrician Online Programs in Florence AL
An option that you might have looked at is choosing an electrician online school to earn a certificate or degree. Even though online schools are becoming more prevalent as a way of attending class without needing to travel, in this instance they are not completely internet based. Just about all electrician training programs require partial attendance on campus to receive hands-on practical training. But since the remainder of the classes may be accessed online, internet learning might be a more practical choice for students that have minimal time for schooling. And as a bonus many online schools have a lower tuition cost compared to their on-campus competitors. Commuting expenses from Florence AL are also reduced and a portion of the study materials may be available online as well. Each of these advantages can make online electrician vocational schools more economical and accessible. And many are fully accredited, which we will deal with in our due diligence checklist.
Points to Ask Electrician Tech Schools
Now that you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your training options. Considering that there are so many electrician trade and vocational schools in the Florence AL area, it’s essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The initial two 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 chosen school offers. And even though all three qualifiers may be important when making your selection, there are additional factors that must be considered also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to selecting an electrical vocational school.
Accreditation. Numerous electrician trade programs have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to a specific program, for example electrical technology. Make certain that the Florence AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. Additionally, some states mandate that the electrician training course be accredited for it to qualify for licensing.
High Completion and Placement Rates. Ask the electrician training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and quit. It could also signify that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of alumni, 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 a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help Florence AL students obtain apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most electrician training programs are taught in conjunction with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of electrician businesses or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have referring partnerships with Florence AL area electricians or electrical contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the electrical tech you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Florence AL electrical contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Florence home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Florence AL?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Florence AL area.
Florence is the largest and principal city of the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Statistical Area (which includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia metropolitan areas in Colbert and Lauderdale counties). Florence is considered northwestern Alabama's primary economic hub.
Annual tourism events include the W. C. Handy Music Festival in the summer and the Renaissance Faire in the fall. Landmarks in Florence include the Rosenbaum House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home located in Alabama.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Florence has a total area of 25.0 square miles (65 km2), of which 24.9 square miles (64 km2) is land, and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.40%) is water. Florence is located on Wilson Lake and Pickwick Lake, bodies of water on the Tennessee River dammed by Pickwick Dam and Wilson Dams. Pickwick Lake was created by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), one of several alphabet agencies of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. Wilson Dam (currently operated by the TVA) was authorized by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 and was the first dam constructed on the Tennessee River.
Choose the Right Electrician Vocational School near Florence AL
Picking the ideal electrical training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many things that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are considering. It’s a must that any electrical training that you are reviewing includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best satisfy your needs. Each program offers different options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and dedication, the end outcome will be a new career as a professional electrician in Florence AL.
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