How to Become an Electrician in Columbia Illinois
The initial step to becoming an electrical contractor or tradesman is finding an electrician trade school near Columbia IL. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are a number of variables to examine. For instance, many prospective students will start by searching for schools that are nearby their home. Once they have found some that are within driving distance, they will decide on the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though location and cost are significant, they are not the sole things that should be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, in addition to their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifiers should contribute toward your ultimate decision when selecting an electrician training school. We will cover that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let’s review a little bit about becoming an electrician and the training options that are offered.
Electrician Degree, Diploma and Certificate Programs near Columbia IL
There are several ways to obtain electrician instruction in a technical or vocational school near Columbia IL. You may choose a certificate or diploma program, or obtain an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are available at certain schools, but are not as common as the other three alternatives. Frequently these programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship, which are mandated by the majority of states in order to be licensed or if you would like to become certified. Bellow are short descriptions of the 3 most common programs available.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by Illinois trade and technical schools and take approximately a year to complete. They furnish a good foundation and are geared towards those who wish to get into an apprenticeship faster as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degrees require two years to complete and are provided by Illinois junior or community colleges, usually as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They provide a more extensive education while supplying the foundation that readies students to enter into their apprenticeship program.
As previously stated, Bachelor’s Degrees are available at certain Illinois institutions, 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 4 years be carried out before licensing. For that reason, many students are anxious to start their paid apprenticeship, especially if it’s not a component of their educational program.
Electrician License and Certification Requirements
Electricians in Columbia IL can undertake a wide range of tasks, including 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 mandated to become licensed in the majority of states or municipalities. The duration of apprenticeship varies by state, but generally about four to five years of experience is called for before taking the licensing examination. The exams usually evaluate general knowledge and electrical theory, as well as understanding of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Receiving certification is also an optional method for an electrician to differentiate her or himself as a experienced and skilled professional. The certifications offered differ by state and may be acquired in various specializations, such as cable splicing as an example. The certification process in most cases includes 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) as well as the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). It’s crucial that the electrician trade school that you pick not only delivers a strong academic foundation, but also helps ready you for passing any licensing and certification examinations that you may need to pass in the future.
Attending Electrician Schools Online in Columbia IL
An option that you might have looked at is selecting an electrician online school to earn a certificate or degree. While online training programs are becoming more accepted as a means of attending class without needing to travel, in this situation they are not completely internet based. Virtually all electrician training programs require some attendance on-campus to obtain hands-on practical training. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, distance learning can be a more practical choice for individuals that have minimal time for schooling. And as a bonus many online schools have a lower tuition cost compared to their on-campus alternatives. Driving costs from Columbia IL are also minimized and a portion of the study materials can be accessed on line also. All of these benefits can make online electrician vocational schools more affordable and convenient. And a number are fully accredited, which we will cover in our due diligence checklist.
Points to Ask Electrician Tech Schools
Now that you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Because there are so many electrician vocational and trade schools in the Columbia IL region, it’s important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The first two that we discussed were location and tuition expense. If you are interested in earning an online degree, then that must be an option that your final school offers. And while all three qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are additional factors that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze prior to choosing an electrical technical school.
Accreditation. Many electrician technical programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Columbia IL school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, some states mandate that the electrician training program be accredited in order 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 percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate may suggest that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It may also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to train the students. It’s similarly imperative that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help Columbia IL grads acquire apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many electrician trade programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of electrician contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with Columbia IL area electricians or electrical contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also supplies employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are up-to-date and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the electrical technician you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Columbia IL electrical company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Columbia residence. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Finally, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Columbia IL, verify that the programs you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Additionally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Columbia IL?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Columbia IL area.
The first white settlers to come to the area of Columbia, Illinois, were Frenchmen in the mid-17th century. They named the area in which Columbia was founded L'Aigle, which is French for "The Eagle."
In the mid-18th century, the British took over the territory until the Revolutionary War forced them out of the area. The colonial American settlers soon arrived in the early 1780s and established the first permanent settlements in the area of Columbia, Fort Whiteside and Fort Piggott. Both frontier forts were of log construction and were used to protect the settlers against Indian raids.
Germans began immigrating to the area around 1833, with the majority coming in the 1840s. United States land agents had traveled to Germany to sell land to emigrating Germans. When the immigrants arrived in the United States, they traveled immediately to their own parcels of land.
Choose the Right Electrician Vocational School near Columbia IL
Picking the right electrical training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to begin your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are a number of factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any electrical training program that you are evaluating includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes should be smaller in size and each student must have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to determine what length of program and credential will best fulfill your needs. Each training program provides different possibilities for certification also. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to check out each campus and speak with the teachers and students. Take the time to sit in on some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the program you select is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional electrician in Columbia IL.
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