How to Become an Electrician in Charleston West Virginia
The first step to learning to be an electrical tradesman or contractor is locating an electrician trade school near Charleston WV. But with numerous technical schools to pick from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are a number of variables to examine. For example, some potential students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their home. After they have located several that are within driving range, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the sole factors that should be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifications should influence your final judgment when picking an electrician training school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let’s talk a little bit about being an electrician and the educational options that are offered.
Electrician Degree, Diploma and Certificate Options near Charleston WV
There are several options to receive electrician training in a trade or technical school near Charleston WV. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program, or receive an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are offered at certain schools, but are not as prevalent as the other three alternatives. In many cases these programs are offered in conjunction with an apprenticeship program, which are required by most states to be licensed or if you want to become certified. Bellow are brief summaries of the three most typical programs available.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are typically provided by West Virginia vocational and trade schools and require approximately a year to finish. They furnish a solid foundation and are geared towards individuals who wish to get into an apprenticeship faster as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degree Programs involve 2 years to complete and are offered by West Virginia junior or community colleges, commonly as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They offer a more well-rounded education while supplying the foundation that readies students to begin their apprenticeship program.
As earlier stated, Bachelor’s Degree programs are offered at certain West Virginia institutions, 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 in most cases four years be performed prior to licensing. Therefore, most students are anxious to start their paid apprenticeship, especially if it’s not a component of their academic program.
Electrician Certification and Licensing Requirements
Electricians in Charleston WV can perform a vast array of duties, such as 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 be licensed in the majority of municipalities and states. The period of apprenticeship varies by state, but generally around 4 to 5 years of practical experience is required before taking the licensing exam. The exams usually evaluate electrical theory and general knowledge, as well as understanding of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Obtaining certification is also a voluntary way for an electrician to differentiate her or himself as a experienced and skilled professional. The certifications available vary by state and may be earned in numerous specializations, including cable splicing as an example. The certification process usually includes 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) and also the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). It’s important that the electrician vocational school that you choose not only delivers a strong academic foundation, but also helps prepare you for passing any certification and licensing exams that you may need to take in the future.
Attending Electrician Schools Online in Charleston WV
An alternative that you may have contemplated is selecting an electrician online school to earn a certificate or degree. Although online training programs have become more popular as a means of attending class without needing to travel, in this case they are not completely internet based. Just about all electrician training programs require some attendance on campus to obtain hands-on practical training. But since the remainder of the classes can be attended online, distance learning can be a more practical alternative for individuals that have minimal time for education. And as a bonus numerous online degree programs have a reduced tuition cost compared to their on-campus competitors. Commuting costs from Charleston WV are also lessened and a portion of the study materials may be available on line also. All of these benefits can make online electrician trade schools more affordable and convenient. And many are fully accredited, which we will cover in our questions to ask checklist.
Things to Ask Electrician Training Schools
Once you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to refine your training options. Because there are so many electrician vocational and trade schools in the Charleston WV region, it’s imperative to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The initial 2 that we discussed were location and the cost of tuition. If you have an interest in earning an degree online, then that must be a feature that your final school offers. And even though all three qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be considered also. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze prior to enrolling in an electrical vocational school.
Accreditation. Many electrician vocational programs have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They may earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance electrical technology. Make sure that the Charleston WV school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping make certain that you obtain a superior education, it can help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, many states require 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also mean that the instructors were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only affirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist Charleston WV graduates obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of electrician technical programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating technical and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of electrician businesses or labor unions. Check if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with Charleston WV area electricians or electrical professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make certain that the school 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 already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the electrical technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Charleston WV electrical company if they can provide some pointers. Additionally keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Charleston home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much individualized training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between teachers and students. Speak to several of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the programs you are reviewing are flexible enough to fulfill your needs. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Charleston WV, verify that the schools you are considering provide those choices. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family emergencies.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Charleston WV?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Charleston WV area.
Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston is the most populous city in, and the capital of, the U.S. state of West Virginia. Located at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha rivers, the population during the 2016 Census Estimate was 49,138. The Charleston metropolitan area as a whole had 217,916 residents. Charleston is the center of government, commerce, and industry for Kanawha County, of which it is the county seat.
Early industries important to Charleston included salt and the first natural gas well. Later, coal became central to economic prosperity in the city and the surrounding area. Today, trade, utilities, government, medicine, and education play central roles in the city's economy.
Charleston is the home of the West Virginia Power minor league baseball team, the West Virginia Wild minor league basketball team, and the annual 15-mile (24 km) Charleston Distance Run. Yeager Airport and the University of Charleston are also located in the city. West Virginia University, Marshall University, and West Virginia State University also have higher education campuses in the area.
Pick the Ideal Electrician Tech School near Charleston WV
Choosing the right electrical training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new career. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any electrician tech school that you are reviewing includes a good deal of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and each student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should offer a real-world perspective, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in duration and the type of credential offered, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Perhaps the best approach to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the faculty and students. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you pick is the best one for you. With the right training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new occupation as a professional electrician in Charleston WV.
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