How to Become an Electrician in Helena Alabama
The initial step to learning to be an electrical tradesman or contractor is locating an electrician trade school near Helena AL. But with numerous vocational schools to select from, just how do you undertake making certain that you enroll in the right one? Particularly because there are a number of variables to evaluate. For example, some potential students will commence by searching for schools that are nearby their home. When they have located several that are within driving range, they will select the one with the most affordable tuition. Even though location and cost are significant, they are not the sole things that need to be evaluated. Also important are the reputations of the schools, their accreditation, as well as their graduation and job placement rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your final decision when picking an electrician trade school. We will discuss that checklist in more detail later in this post. But to begin with, let’s review a little bit about being an electrician and the educational options that are offered.
Electrician Diploma, Certificate and Degree Programs near Helena AL
There are three general options to receive electrician training in a vocational or trade school near Helena AL. You can choose a certificate or diploma program, or receive an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are obtainable at some schools, but are not as prevalent as the first three options. Often these programs are offered together with an apprenticeship program, which are required by the majority of states in order to be licensed or if you would like to become certified. Following are short descriptions of the three most common programs offered.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are usually offered by Alabama vocational and trade schools and require about a year to complete. They provide a good foundation and are geared towards individuals who wish to get into an apprenticeship more quickly as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degrees involve two years to finish and are offered by Alabama community colleges, typically as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They offer a more well-rounded education while providing the foundation that prepares students to enter into their apprenticeship program.
As previously stated, Bachelor’s Degree programs are accessible at certain Alabama institutions, but are less preferred at 4 years than the other briefer programs. Many states require that an apprenticeship of no less than 2 years and in most cases four years be completed before licensing. Because of that, the majority of students are anxious to begin their paid apprenticeship, particularly if it’s not a component of their educational program.
Electrician Licensing and Certification Prerequisites
Electricians in Helena AL can undertake a vast array of tasks, such as installing, replacing and testing electrical systems, and making sure that the wiring in houses and buildings comply with code standards. After concluding an apprenticeship, journeyman electricians are mandated to become licensed in most municipalities and states. The duration of apprenticeship differs by state, but generally around four to five years of experience is called for in order to take the licensing examination. The exams typically evaluate general knowledge and electrical theory, in addition to understanding of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Obtaining certification is also a voluntary way for an electrician to identify her or himself as a skilled and experienced professional. The certifications available differ by state and can be obtained in various specializations, including cable splicing as an example. The certification process in most cases involves 3 levels of proficiency:
- 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 provides a strong academic foundation, but also helps prepare you for passing any licensing and certification exams that you may need to pass in the future.
Attending Electrician Online Training Classes in Helena AL
A possibility that you may have considered is selecting an electrician online program to earn a degree or a certificate. Although online training programs have become more prevalent as a way of attending class without the need for travel, in this instance they are not completely internet based. Pretty much all electrician training programs require partial attendance on-campus to receive practical hands-on training. But since the remainder of the classes can be accessed online, distance learning can be a more accommodating choice for individuals that have minimal time for schooling. And as a bonus many online schools have a lower tuition cost compared to their on campus alternatives. Commuting expenses from Helena AL are also minimized and a portion of the study materials can be available online as well. Each of these advantages can make online electrician trade schools more affordable and accessible. And a number are fully accredited, which we will address in our due diligence checklist.
What to Ask Electrician Trade Schools
When you have made a decision to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Because there are numerous electrician tech and trade schools in the Helena AL region, it’s imperative to have a checklist of qualifications that each program must satisfy. The initial 2 that we mentioned were location and the cost of tuition. If you are interested in earning an online degree, then that must be a feature that your final school offers. And while all three qualifiers may be crucial when making your selection, there are additional variables that need to be considered as well. Following is a checklist of those additional qualifications that you will need to analyze before choosing an electrical vocational school.
Accreditation. A large number of electrician vocational schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for example electrical technology. Verify that the Helena AL school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition to helping guarantee that you obtain a superior education, it can assist in acquiring financial assistance or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of states mandate that the electrician training program be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.
High Completion and Placement Rates. Ask the electrician schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate could signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It might also signify that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have higher job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of alumni, 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 field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to help Helena AL grads secure apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of electrician vocational programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and trade programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program within their network of electrical contractors or trade unions. Find out if the schools you are comparing have referring relationships with Helena AL area electricians or electrical specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to establish relationships in the local electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the electrical tech you are working under concerning what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Helena AL electrical contractor if they can give you some pointers. Also keep in mind that unless you can move, the school must be within driving distance of your Helena home. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition charges 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 sit in on some of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Helena AL, confirm that the schools you are considering offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make certain that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Helena AL?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Helena AL area.
Helena (pronunciation hel-LE-nah) is a city in Jefferson and Shelby Counties in the state of Alabama. Helena is considered a suburb of Birmingham and part of the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 16,793. Helena is highly regarded as a place to live and raise children; Business Week named Helena the 13th "Best Place to Raise Your Kids" in 2007. It has the eighth-lowest crime rate per population in the U.S., and the city was ranked in Money magazine's 2007 list of "Best Places to Live: Top 100" in the U.S., placing at number 91. The Alabama League of Municipalities awarded Helena the 2008 Municipal Achievement Award (population 10,001 to 20,000).
Helena initially incorporated in 1877, but reincorporated in 1917 after errors were discovered in the initial incorporation papers. It did not first appear on the U.S. Census until 1920, giving credence to the later date of incorporation.
The initial settlers to Helena, initially named Cove, were veterans of the final campaigns of the War of 1812. Members of Andrew Jackson's army who cut through the brush were attracted to the quiet, peaceful valleys and streams after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. These first settlers were reported to arrive in 1849 and were predated by the Creek Indian tribes who these settlers had battled. By 1856, the Cove post office opened. Shortly thereafter, the settlers changed the name of the town to Hillsboro.
Enroll in the Ideal Electrical Technical School near Helena AL
Picking the right electrical training program will probably be the most important decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have covered in this article, there are a number of things that you will need to examine and compare between the training programs you are considering. It’s a necessity that any electrical training that you are assessing includes a considerable amount of hands-on instruction. Classes need to be small in size and every student should have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching needs to offer a real-world context, and the training program should be up-to-date and in-line with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the type of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and credential will best serve your needs. Each program provides different options for certification as well. Probably the best means to research your short list of schools is to visit each campus and talk with the students and instructors. Invest some time to attend some classes. Inspect the campus and facilities. Make certain that you are confident that the school you decide on is the right one for you. With the right training, effort and dedication, the end outcome will be a new occupation as a professional electrician in Helena AL.
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