Electricians-in-training may complete certificate or diploma programs before or during their apprenticeships. In addition to the National Electrical Code, such programs focus on wiring, safety practices, blueprint reading, conduits and mathematics for electricians. After completing the apprenticeship, aspiring electricians can take the state licensing exam to become certified.
In order to begin an electrician certificate or diploma program, students must have a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Certificate Programs for Electricians
Electrician certificate programs cover the maintenance and installation of electrical systems for residential, commercial and industrial properties. Construction safety is also dealt with. Certificate programs usually take under a year to complete.
Students learn technical skills as well as electrical theories and concepts. Courses may include the following:
- National Electrical Code
- Safety practices
- PLC programming and configuration
- Industrial controls
- Power distribution
Diploma Programs for Electricians
Diploma programs are often taken prior to starting apprenticeships and may help students land apprenticeship positions. Students learn the basics of electrical maintenance and installation. Electricity fundamentals, wiring methods and electrical motors are also covered.
The curriculum for a diploma program covers the basics necessary to begin a career as an electrician. Courses cover theory, safety, tools and electrical concepts. Additional topics may include the following:
- Math skills for electricians
- Lighting control
- Blueprint reading
Upon completion of the diploma program, graduates may seek entry-level employment or apprenticeship positions. Job opportunities may include the following:
- Repair electrician
- Commercial electrician
- Residential electrician
- Industrial maintenance electrician
- Field electrician
- Installation electrician
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected employment for electricians to grow at a rate of 14% between 2014 and 2024. Electricians with experience in new technologies, such as solar and wind power, might have the best opportunities. According to the BLS, electricians made a median annual wage of $51,880 in 2015. During the apprenticeship period, an electrician can expect to make 40%-50% of the annual wage, per the BLS.
Even after completing educational training programs, electricians generally complete apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are usually paid positions where entry-level electricians can receive hands-on training and instruction from experienced electricians. By the time electricians complete their apprenticeships, they have usually received enough training to pass the state licensing exam.
Licensing and certification are awarded at the state level. Most states require electricians to demonstrate their knowledge of electrical theory, national codes and local codes by passing licensing exams, like the one required to become a licensed journeyman electrician. Some states require the master electrician certification for certain types of electrical work. Candidates may be required to have a certain number of years of working experience before becoming eligible for state certification and licensing. Continuing education is needed to keep up with changes in electrical codes as well as technology advancements.
Aspiring electricians can complete a certificate program or diploma program to work in the field. Apprenticeships are also available to provide hands-on training and sometimes an immediate entry into work.