How to Become an Electrician in Portage Wisconsin
The initial step to becoming an electrical tradesman or contractor is finding an electrician trade school near Portage WI. But with numerous vocational schools to select from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are so many variables to consider. For instance, some potential students will commence by searching for schools that are close to their residence. After they have found a few that are within driving range, they will decide on the one with the lowest tuition. Even though location and cost are of importance, they are not the only things that need to be examined. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should influence your ultimate decision when choosing an electrician trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let’s talk a little bit about becoming an electrician and the instructional options that are offered.
Electrician Diploma, Certificate and Degree Options near Portage WI
There are several ways to obtain electrician training in a technical or vocational school near Portage WI. You may choose a certificate or diploma program, or earn an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are available 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, which are required by most states to be licensed or if you would like to earn certification. Following are short descriptions of the 3 most prevalent programs available.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually provided by Wisconsin trade and technical schools and require about a year to complete. They provide a solid foundation and are geared towards those who wish to get into an apprenticeship faster as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degrees involve two years to finish and are provided by Wisconsin junior or community colleges, commonly as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They offer a more comprehensive education while providing the foundation that readies students to enter into their apprenticeship program.
As earlier stated, Bachelor’s Degrees are offered at some Wisconsin institutions, but are less favored at four years than the other briefer programs. Many states mandate that an apprenticeship of at least 2 years and in most cases 4 years be carried out prior to licensing. For that reason, many students are eager to start their paid apprenticeship, particularly if it’s not part of their academic program.
Electrician Licensing and Certification Criteria
Electricians in Portage WI can carry out a multitude of tasks, such as testing, installing and replacing electrical systems, and ensuring that the wiring in buildings and homes are up to code standards. After completing an apprenticeship, journeyman electricians are required to become licensed in most states or municipalities. The period of apprenticeship differs by state, but generally around 4 to 5 years of prior experience is required before taking the licensing examination. The exams typically evaluate electrical theory and general knowledge, along with understanding of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Obtaining certification is also an optional means for an electrician to identify him or herself as a skilled and experienced professional. The certifications available differ by state and may be earned in various specialties, such as cable splicing as an example. The certification procedure 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) and also the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). It’s imperative that the electrician trade school that you choose not only delivers a strong educational foundation, but also helps prepare you for passing any licensing and certification exams that you may need to take in the future.
Attending Electrician Online Schools in Portage WI
A possibility that you may have considered is choosing an electrician online program to earn a degree or a certificate. Although online schools have become more popular as a means of attending class without the need for travel, in this instance they are not entirely internet based. Just about all electrician training programs require partial attendance on-campus to receive hands-on practical training. But since the balance of the classes can be accessed online, distance learning can be a more convenient option for individuals that have limited time for schooling. And as a bonus numerous online degree programs have a cheaper tuition cost compared to their on-campus competitors. Driving expenses from Portage WI are also lessened and a portion of the study materials can be available online 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.
Things to Ask Electrician Vocational Schools
Now that you have made a decision to obtain a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Considering that there are so many electrician trade and vocational schools in the Portage WI area, it’s important to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. 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 an option that your chosen school offers. And while all three qualifiers may be crucial when making your decision, there are other factors that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those additional qualifiers that you will need to assess prior to choosing an electrical trade school.
Accreditation. Numerous electrician trade schools have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Portage WI school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you acquire a superior education, it can help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, some states require 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 looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It could also suggest that the instructors 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 directory of graduates, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ 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 trade, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist Portage WI students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of electrician training programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of electrician contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with Portage WI area electricians or electrical professionals. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus 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 presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the electrical tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Portage WI electrical company if they can provide some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Portage home. Remember that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much one-on-one training as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Portage WI, check that the programs you are looking at offer 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 emergencies.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Portage WI?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Portage WI area.
Portage is a city in and the county seat of Columbia County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 10,662 at the 2010 census making it the largest city in Columbia County. The city is part of the Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Portage was named for the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway, a portage between the Fox River and the Wisconsin River, which was recognized by Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet during their discovery of a route to the Mississippi River in 1673. The city's slogan is "Where the North Begins."
The Native American tribes that once lived here, and later the European traders and settlers, took advantage of the lowlands between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers as a natural "portage". In May 1673, Jacques Marquette joined the expedition of Louis Jolliet, a French-Canadian explorer, to find the Mississippi River. They departed from St. Ignace on May 17, with two canoes and five voyageurs of French-Indian ancestry (Métis). They followed Lake Michigan to Green Bay and up the Fox River, nearly to its headwaters. From there, they were told to portage their canoes a distance of slightly less than two miles through marsh and oak plains to the Wisconsin River. Later, French fur traders described the place as "le portage", which eventually lent itself to the name of the community. As a portage, this community developed as a center of commerce and trade; later, a canal was constructed to facilitate this trade. When the railroads came through, the community continued in this role.
Select the Ideal Electrician Vocational School near Portage WI
Picking the best electrical trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new career. As we have addressed in this article, there are several things that you will need to assess and compare among the training programs you are reviewing. It’s a must that any electrical tech school that you are evaluating includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be smaller in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be current and in-line with industry standards. Courses vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each training program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal means to research your final list of schools is to visit each campus and speak with the students and faculty. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the best one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the final outcome will be a new career as a professional electrician in Portage WI.
Other Cool Cities in Wisconsin