How to Become an Electrician in Helena Arkansas
The first step to learning to be an electrical tradesman or contractor is finding an electrician trade school near Helena AR. But with so many vocational schools to choose from, just how do you go about making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially since there are so many factors to consider. For instance, some potential students will commence by looking for schools that are close to their residence. When they have located some that are within commuting distance, they will decide on the one with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the only things that should be evaluated. Also critical are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their job placement and graduation rates. These and other qualifiers should influence your ultimate decision when selecting an electrician trade school. We will address that checklist in greater detail later in this article. But to begin with, let’s review a little bit about becoming an electrician and the training options that are offered.
Electrician Certificate, Diploma and Degree Programs near Helena AR
There are several approaches to receive electrician training in a vocational or trade school near Helena AR. You may choose a diploma or certificate program, or earn an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are offered at certain schools, but are not as common as the other three options. In many cases these programs are offered together with an apprenticeship, which are mandated by most states to be licensed or if you want to become certified. Following are short explanations of the 3 most common programs available.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are usually offered by Arkansas trade and technical schools and take approximately a year to complete. They furnish a good foundation and are aimed towards individuals who would like to join an apprenticeship more quickly as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degree Programs take two years to finish and are provided by Arkansas community colleges, typically as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They furnish a more well-rounded education while providing the foundation that prepares students to begin their apprenticeship program.
As previously stated, Bachelor’s Degrees are offered at some Arkansas colleges, but are less favored at four years than the other shorter programs. The majority of states mandate that an apprenticeship of at least 2 years and more typically four years be carried out before licensing. Therefore, most students are anxious to begin their paid apprenticeship, especially if it’s not part of their academic program.
Electrician Certification and Licensing Prerequisites
Electricians in Helena AR can undertake a multitude of services, such as installing, replacing and testing 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 be licensed in the majority of states or municipalities. The period of apprenticeship varies by state, but usually around four to five years of experience is needed before taking the licensing exam. The exams typically test electrical theory and general knowledge, along with knowledge of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Obtaining certification is also an optional method for an electrician to distinguish her or himself as a experienced and skilled professional. The certifications available vary by state and may be obtained in several specialties, such as cable splicing as an example. The certification process in most cases entails 3 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) as well as the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). It’s crucial that the electrician vocational school that you select not only delivers a solid 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 Programs Online in Helena AR
An alternative that you might have looked at is choosing an online electrician program to earn a degree or a certificate. While online schools are becoming more popular as a way of attending class without needing to travel, in this case they are not completely internet based. Just about all electrician schools require some attendance on campus to obtain hands-on practical training. But since the rest of the classes may be attended online, distance learning may be a more convenient alternative for individuals that have limited time for education. And as an added benefit many online degree programs have a reduced tuition cost compared to their traditional counterparts. Commuting expenses from Helena AR are also lessened and some of the study materials may be accessed on line also. All of these benefits can make online electrician tech schools more affordable and convenient. And many are fully accredited, which we will discuss in our questions to ask checklist.
Topics to Ask Electrician Vocational Schools
When you have made a decision to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can start to narrow down your school options. Because there are so many electrician vocational and trade schools in the Helena AR area, it’s imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must meet. The initial 2 that we talked about were location and tuition expense. If you are interested in earning an online degree, then that must be an option that your final school offers. And while all three qualifiers may be critical when making your determination, there are additional factors that must be taken into account also. Following is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess prior to enrolling in an electrical vocational school.
Accreditation. Numerous electrician vocational programs have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can receive Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Helena AR school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, many states mandate that the electrician training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion and Placement Rates. Ask the electrician training programs you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also suggest that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist Helena AR grads acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most electrician vocational programs are taught in conjunction 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 electrical contractors or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working partnerships with Helena AR area electricians or electrical companies. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm 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, talk to the electrical tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Helena AR electrical company if they can give you some pointers. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school needs to be within driving distance of your Helena home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can see how large they are and experience the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of expertise is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Helena AR, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Helena AR?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Helena AR area.
Helena–West Helena, Arkansas
Helena–West Helena is the county seat of and the largest city within Phillips County, Arkansas, United States. The current city was consolidated, effective January 1, 2006, from the two Arkansas cities of Helena and West Helena. Helena is sited on lowlands between the Mississippi River and the eastern side of Crowley's Ridge. West Helena is located on the western side of Crowley's Ridge, a geographic anomaly in the typically flat Arkansas Delta. The Helena Bridge, one of Arkansas' four Mississippi River bridges, carries U.S. Route 49 across to Mississippi. The combined population of the two cities was 15,012 at the 2000 census and at the 2010 census, the official population was 12,282.
The municipality traces its historical roots to the founding of the port town of Helena on the Mississippi River by European Americans in 1833. As the county seat, Helena was the center of a prosperous cotton plantation region in the antebellum years. Helena was occupied by the Union Army early in the American Civil War. The city was the site of the Battle of Helena fought in 1863. Confederate forces unsuccessfully tried to expel Union forces from Helena in order to help relieve pressure on the strategic river town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Later in the year, Helena served as the launching point for the Union Army in the capture of Little Rock, the state capital.
A thriving blues community developed here in the 1940s and 1950s as rural musicians relocated for city jobs. Mechanization had reduced the need for farm workers. The city continued to grow until the closing of the Mohawk Rubber Company, a subsidiary of Yokohama Rubber Company, in the 1970s. Unemployment surged shortly after.
Select the Right Electrical Vocational School near Helena AR
Choosing the right electrician training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are many factors that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are reviewing. It’s a must that any electrical training program that you are considering includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes should be smaller in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom education needs to offer a real-world perspective, and the course of study should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Training programs differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will need to ascertain what length of program and credential will best satisfy your needs. Every program provides different options for certification also. Probably the best way to research your short list of schools is to go to each campus and speak with the students and instructors. Take the time to monitor some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the training program you select is the ideal one for you. With the right training, hard work and commitment, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional electrician in Helena AR.
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