Associate degree programs in electrical technology generally are 1.5-2 years in length and divide instruction between classrooms and hands-on laboratory experiences. The labs provide opportunities for students to develop skills in wiring, installation, troubleshooting and repair according to the National Electrical Code (NEC). Specific lab exercises might include wiring a new building, installing a lighting system or connecting industrial equipment. Other program coursework might teach students to work with programmable logic controllers (PLCs), electrical drawings and blueprints.
Applicants will need a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Some programs also have students take math placement exams and may require students to have a set of specific tools.
Associate Degree in Electrical Technology
Coursework covers general electrical theory and relies heavily on math and science concepts. Classroom instruction also emphasizes standards required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency that governs worker safety practices. Students are exposed to broad academic courses in addition to core electrical technology subjects. Coursework may include the following:
- Alternating and direct current (AC and DC)
- Wiring techniques
- Motor controls
Popular Career Options
Programs teach the knowledge and skills needed by such employers as construction companies, utility companies and telecommunications companies. Typical careers include the following:
- Electronics troubleshooter
- Electrical relay technician
- Electrical research technician
- Electrical distribution salesperson
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment opportunities for electricians will increase by 14% between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than the national average. These workers earned an average salary of $55,590 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education and Licensure Information
Graduates who choose to pursue careers as electricians need to be licensed in most states, according to the BLS. To obtain a license, aspiring electricians might need to take tests that cover NEC and state and local codes, the BLS reports. Employers could also require applicants to acquire hands-on training through apprenticeships after completing classroom training.
Bachelor's degree programs are available for students who desire to expand career opportunities in this field. These programs may include building automation technology and electronics engineering technology. Some programs allow students to apply related associate's degree coursework towards bachelor's degree requirements.
Associate's degree programs in electrical technology teach students the safety standards and techniques behind installing, repairing and wiring various electrical systems. Graduates will need to obtain state licensure if they're interested in working as electricians, while 4-year degrees are available to individuals who want to pursue advanced career options.