How to Become an Electrician in Muscle Shoals Alabama
The initial step to becoming an electrical contractor or tradesman is finding an electrician trade school near Muscle Shoals AL. But with so many technical schools to pick from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the best one? Especially since there are a number of points to examine. For instance, many potential students will start by looking for schools that are close to their home. When they have found some that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the lowest tuition. While cost and location are of importance, they are not the only factors that should be considered. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your final decision when choosing an electrician trade school. We will discuss that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But first, let’s talk a little bit about becoming an electrician and the educational options that are available.
Electrician Diploma, Certificate and Degree Programs near Muscle Shoals AL
There are multiple ways to get electrician training in a vocational or trade school near Muscle Shoals AL. You can choose a certificate or diploma program, or earn an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are obtainable at some schools, but are not as common as the other three options. In many cases these programs are offered together with an apprenticeship, which are required by the majority of states in order to be licensed or if you wish to become certified. Bellow are brief descriptions of the 3 most common programs offered.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are generally offered by Alabama vocational and trade schools and take about a year to complete. They furnish a good foundation and are geared towards students who wish to join an apprenticeship faster as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degrees require two years to finish and are offered by Alabama community colleges, typically as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They furnish a more extensive education while supplying the foundation that prepares students to join their apprenticeship program.
As earlier mentioned, Bachelor’s Degree programs are accessible at some Alabama colleges, but are less preferred at four years than the other briefer programs. The majority of states require that an apprenticeship of no less than 2 years and more typically 4 years be carried out prior to licensing. Therefore, many students are eager to commence their paid apprenticeship, especially if it’s not part of their academic program.
Electrician Licensing and Certification Requirements
Electricians in Muscle Shoals AL can perform a vast array of functions, such as testing, installing and replacing electrical systems, and making sure that the wiring in houses and buildings are up to code standards. After finishing an apprenticeship, journeyman electricians are mandated to become licensed in most states or municipalities. The duration of apprenticeship varies by state, but generally around 4 to 5 years of prior experience is needed in order to take the licensing exam. The exams usually assess general knowledge and electrical theory, along with understanding of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Obtaining certification is also an optional method for an electrician to distinguish her or himself as a skilled and experienced professional. The certifications available differ by state and can be acquired in numerous specializations, such as cable splicing as an example. The certification process in most cases involves 3 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 trade school that you enroll in not only provides a strong academic foundation, but also helps prep you for passing any certification and licensing exams that you may be required to pass in the future.
Enrolling in Electrician Online Programs in Muscle Shoals AL
An option that you may have contemplated is choosing an online electrician program to earn a degree or a certificate. While online schools are becoming more accepted as a means of attending class without needing to travel, in this instance they are not completely internet based. Virtually all electrician training programs require some attendance on campus to obtain practical hands-on training. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, internet learning may be a more accommodating option for individuals that have minimal time for schooling. And as an added benefit many online degree programs have a lower tuition cost compared to their traditional alternatives. Commuting costs from Muscle Shoals AL are also minimized and some of the study materials can be accessed online as well. All of these benefits can make online electrician trade schools more affordable and accessible. And a number are fully accredited, which we will address in our due diligence checklist.
Topics to Ask Electrician Training Schools
Now that you have decided to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Considering that there are so many electrician vocational and trade schools in the Muscle Shoals AL region, it’s important to have a checklist of criteria that each program must meet. The initial two that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. If you have an interest in earning an online degree, then that needs to be a feature that your final school offers. And even though all three qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to research before choosing an electrical vocational school.
Accreditation. A large number of electrician vocational schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Muscle Shoals AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a superior education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the electrician training course be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion and Placement Rates. Ask the electrician schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It might also signify that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It’s also important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which can produce more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of contacts to help Muscle Shoals AL graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of electrician training programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of electrical companies or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with Muscle Shoals AL area electricians or electrical specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the electrical technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Muscle Shoals AL electrical contractor if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Muscle Shoals home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Talk with several of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm 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 in the evening or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, confirm that the schools you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Additionally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Muscle Shoals AL?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Muscle Shoals AL area.
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Both the city and the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Area (including four cities in Colbert and Lauderdale counties) are commonly called "the Shoals".Northwest Alabama Regional Airport serves the Shoals region, located in the northwest section of the state.
Since the 1960s, the city has been known for music – developing the "Muscle Shoals Sound", as local recording studios (including FAME Studios in the late 1950s and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969) produced hit records that shaped the history of popular music.
Due to its strategic location along the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals played a key role in historic land disputes between Native Americans and Anglo-American settlers in the late 18th century and early 19th century.
Choose the Right Electrician Vocational School near Muscle Shoals AL
Picking the best electrician trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to launch your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It’s a must that any electrician training that you are evaluating includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and each student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to offer a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification also. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the final result will be a new career as a professional electrician in Muscle Shoals AL.
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