How to Become an Electrician in Woodbridge Virginia
The first step to becoming an electrical contractor or tradesman is finding an electrician trade school near Woodbridge VA. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making certain that you enroll in the ideal one? Particularly because there are a number of factors to examine. For example, many students will start by looking for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have found a few that are within driving distance, they will pick the one with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the only factors that need to be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your final decision when picking an electrician trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let’s talk a little bit about becoming an electrician and the educational choices that are offered.
Electrician Diploma, Certificate and Degree Options near Woodbridge VA
There are several ways to obtain electrician instruction in a vocational or trade school near Woodbridge VA. 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 prevalent as the first three options. Often these programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship, which are required by most states in order to be licensed or if you want to earn certification. Bellow are short explanations of the three most prevalent programs available.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are typically provided by Virginia vocational and trade schools and require approximately a year to finish. They provide a good foundation and are aimed towards those who wish to enter an apprenticeship faster as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degree Programs require two years to finish and are provided by Virginia junior or community colleges, usually as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They furnish a more well-rounded education while providing the foundation that prepares students to join their apprenticeship program.
As previously stated, Bachelor’s Degree programs are offered at certain Virginia colleges, but are less popular at 4 years than the other briefer programs. The majority of states mandate that an apprenticeship of at least 2 years and more typically four years be performed prior to licensing. Therefore, most students are eager to commence their paid apprenticeship, especially if it’s not part of their educational program.
Electrician Licensing and Certification Criteria
Electricians in Woodbridge VA can undertake a wide range of tasks, including installing, replacing and testing electrical systems, and making sure that the wiring in houses and buildings comply with code standards. After concluding an apprenticeship, journeyman electricians are mandated to become licensed in the majority of municipalities and states. The period of apprenticeship varies by state, but normally about 4 to 5 years of experience is required in order to take the licensing exam. The exams usually test general knowledge and electrical theory, as well as knowledge of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Obtaining certification is also a voluntary means for an electrician to differentiate her or himself as a skilled and experienced professional. The certifications offered differ by state and can be earned in several specialties, including cable splicing as an example. The certification procedure in most cases entails three levels of competency:
- 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 pick not only delivers a strong educational foundation, but also helps prepare you for passing any licensing and certification exams that you may be required to pass in the future.
Attending Electrician Schools Online in Woodbridge VA
An option that you may have contemplated is enrolling in an online electrician school to earn a certificate or degree. Even though online training programs are becoming more popular as a means of attending class without the need for travel, in this case they are not entirely internet based. Just about all electrician schools require partial attendance on campus to obtain hands-on practical training. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, internet learning might be a more practical option for students that have minimal time for schooling. And as an added benefit many online training programs have a lower tuition cost compared to their on-campus alternatives. Travelling costs from Woodbridge VA are also lessened and some of the study materials may be available on line as well. Each of these benefits can make online electrician tech schools more economical and accessible. And many are fully accredited, which we will address in our due diligence checklist.
Questions to Ask Electrician Tech Schools
When you have made a decision to earn a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your training options. Considering that there are numerous electrician vocational and trade schools in the Woodbridge VA area, it’s imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. If you are interested in earning an degree online, then that needs to be a feature that your chosen school offers. And while all three qualifiers may be crucial when making your determination, there are additional factors that need to be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess prior to choosing an electrical vocational school.
Accreditation. A large number of electrician vocational schools have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They can acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Confirm that the Woodbridge VA school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are often unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, some states mandate that the electrician training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion and Placement Rates. Ask the electrician training programs you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate could signify that students were unhappy with the program and quit. It could also suggest that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist Woodbridge VA students obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. Many electrician vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating technical and vocational 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 Woodbridge VA area electricians or electrical companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the regional electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the electrical specialist you are working with regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Woodbridge VA electrical contractor if they can give you some suggestions. Also bear in mind that unless you can relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Woodbridge home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there can be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much personalized training as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk to some of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Woodbridge VA, confirm that the programs you are considering provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, ask 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 Woodbridge VA?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Woodbridge VA area.
Woodbridge is a census-designated place (CDP) in Prince William County, Virginia, United States, located 20 miles (32 km) south of Washington, D.C. Bounded by the Occoquan and Potomac rivers, Woodbridge Magisterial District had 54,275 residents at the 2010 census. The Woodbridge census-designated place comprises just one portion of the magisterial district and had a population of 4,055 in the 2010 census. The census-designated place consists solely of the section north of Occoquan Road and Dawson Beach Road, and east of Interstate 95.
Woodbridge offers a variety of amenities for residents and visitors, including the Potomac Mills shopping mall and the Stonebridge at Potomac Town Centre Shopping Centers. Woodbridge is served by the Prince William County Public Schools, and the Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College borders the district. Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, formerly Potomac Hospital, recently expanded and now has the capacity to serve 183 patients. Transportation includes access to Interstate 95, two VRE commuter train stations, bus service, and a local “slugging” system, offering residents a variety of transit options.
Woodbridge offers a wide range of recreational opportunities for resident and visitors. The Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a natural habitat for a variety of plant and animal life including the bald eagles and ospreys. Veteran’s Park and Leesylvania State Park are located on the Potomac River and provide swimming, boating, picnic and hiking services. Close-by is Rippon Lodge, the oldest house in Prince William County, which is open for tours throughout the summer. Trails at Leesylvania Park lead to the ancestral home of the Lee family.
Enroll in the Right Electrician Tech School near Woodbridge VA
Choosing the best electrician training program will probably be the most critical decision you will make to start your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It’s a necessity that any electrician training that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on training. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Training programs differ in duration and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to decide what length of program and certificate or degree will best serve your needs. Every training program offers different possibilities for certification as well. Probably the best way to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional electrician in Woodbridge VA.
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