How to Become an Electrician in Williamsburg Virginia
The initial step to learning to be an electrical contractor or tradesman is finding an electrician trade school near Williamsburg VA. But with so many technical schools to choose from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly since there are so many points to consider. For example, some prospective students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have located several that are within driving distance, they will choose the one with the cheapest tuition. Even though cost and location are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that need to be considered. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should help mold your ultimate decision when selecting an electrician school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let’s review a little bit about becoming an electrician and the training choices that are available.
Electrician Degree, Diploma and Certificate Programs near Williamsburg VA
There are several ways to receive electrician instruction in a vocational or trade school near Williamsburg VA. You may choose a diploma or certificate program, or obtain an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are obtainable at certain schools, but are not as common as the first three alternatives. In many cases these programs are made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship, which are mandated by the majority of states in order to be licensed or if you want to earn certification. Following are short descriptions of the 3 most typical programs available.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are typically provided by Virginia trade and technical schools and require approximately a year to finish. They provide a good foundation and are aimed towards those who would like to join an apprenticeship faster as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degrees require 2 years to finish and are provided by Virginia community colleges, typically as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They furnish a more extensive education while providing the foundation that prepares students to join their apprenticeship program.
As earlier mentioned, Bachelor’s Degree programs are offered at some Virginia institutions, but are less preferred at four years than the other briefer programs. Most states require that an apprenticeship of at least 2 years and in most cases 4 years be carried out before licensing. Therefore, the majority of students are anxious to commence their paid apprenticeship, especially if it’s not a component of their educational program.
Electrician Certification and Licensing Criteria
Electricians in Williamsburg VA can perform a wide range of services, such as installing, replacing and testing electrical systems, and making sure that the wiring in buildings and homes are up to code standards. After completing an apprenticeship, journeyman electricians are mandated to become licensed in most states or municipalities. The length of apprenticeship differs by state, but normally about 4 to 5 years of prior experience is required in order to take the licensing examination. The exams usually assess general knowledge and electrical theory, in addition to understanding of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Receiving certification is also a voluntary means for an electrician to differentiate him or herself as a skilled and experienced professional. The certifications available vary by state and may be obtained in many specializations, such as cable splicing as an example. The certification process usually involves 3 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) as well as the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). It’s important that the electrician trade school that you select not only provides a strong academic foundation, but also helps prepare you for passing any licensing and certification exams that you might be required to take in the future.
Attending Electrician Online Schools in Williamsburg VA
An alternative that you may have contemplated is choosing an electrician online school to earn a degree or a certificate. While online schools are becoming more accepted as a means of attending class without the need for travel, in this instance they are not totally internet based. Just about all electrician training programs require partial attendance on-campus to receive hands-on practical training. But since the rest of the classes can be accessed online, internet learning may be a more practical alternative for individuals that have limited time for schooling. And as an added benefit many online degree programs have a reduced tuition cost compared to their on-campus alternatives. Travelling costs from Williamsburg VA are also minimized and some of the study materials can be accessed online also. Each of these advantages can make online electrician trade schools more economical and convenient. And many are fully accredited, which we will address in our questions to ask checklist.
Topics to Ask Electrician Tech Schools
Once you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Because there are numerous electrician tech and trade schools in the Williamsburg VA area, it’s important to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The first 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. If you have an interest in earning an online degree, then that must be an option that your chosen school offers. And even though all three qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other variables that must be taken into account also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to analyze before enrolling in an electrical vocational school.
Accreditation. Numerous electrician trade programs have attained 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 sure that the Williamsburg VA school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you acquire an excellent education, it may help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate 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 reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were dissatisfied with the course and dropped out. It could also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can 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 a good reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to help Williamsburg VA students secure apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of electrician technical programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of electrician companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with Williamsburg VA area electricians or electrical professionals. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be trained on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the electrical technician you are working under concerning what you should be looking for. If not, ask a local Williamsburg VA electrical contracting company if they can give you some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Williamsburg residence. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Talk to a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Williamsburg VA, confirm that the programs you are comparing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Williamsburg VA?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Williamsburg VA area.
Williamsburg was founded in 1632 as Middle Plantation, a fortified settlement on high ground between the James and York rivers. The city served as the capital of the Colony and Commonwealth of Virginia from 1699 to 1780 and was the center of political events in Virginia leading to the American Revolution. The College of William & Mary, established in 1693, is the second-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and the only one of the nine colonial colleges located in the South; its alumni include three U.S. presidents as well as many other important figures in the nation's early history.
The city's tourism-based economy is driven by Colonial Williamsburg, the restored Historic Area of the city. Along with nearby Jamestown and Yorktown, Williamsburg forms part of the Historic Triangle, which attracts more than four million tourists each year. Modern Williamsburg is also a college town, inhabited in large part by William & Mary students and staff.
Prior to the arrival of the English colonists at Jamestown in the Colony of Virginia in 1607, the area which became Williamsburg was within the territory of the Powhatan Confederacy. By the 1630s, English settlements had grown to dominate the lower (eastern) portion of the Virginia Peninsula, and the Powhatan tribes had abandoned their nearby villages. Between 1630 and 1633, after the war that followed the Indian Massacre of 1622, the English colonists constructed a defensive palisade across the peninsula and a settlement named Middle Plantation as a primary guard station along the palisade.
Select the Right Electrical Trade School near Williamsburg VA
Choosing the best electrical trade school will probably be the most important decision you will make to begin your new career. As we have discussed in this article, there are several factors that you will need to assess and compare among the schools you are reviewing. It’s a must that any electrical tech school that you are considering includes a lot of hands-on training. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom instruction should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the course of study should be current and conform with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to determine what length of program and certificate or degree will best satisfy your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification also. Perhaps the best way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the faculty and students. Invest some time to sit in on some classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you select is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final result will be a new career as a professional electrician in Williamsburg VA.
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