How to Become an Electrician in Opelika Alabama
The first step to learning to be an electrical tradesman or contractor is finding an electrician trade school near Opelika AL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you approach making sure that you enroll in the best one? Particularly because there are so many variables to consider. For example, many students will begin by looking for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have found a few that are within commuting distance, they will pick the one with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are of importance, they are not the sole qualifications that must be considered. Also critical are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their job placement and graduation rates. These and additional qualifications should contribute toward your ultimate decision when choosing an electrician training school. We will cover that checklist in greater detail later in this post. But first, let’s review a little bit about becoming an electrician and the instructional choices that are accessible.
Electrician Degree, Diploma and Certificate Programs near Opelika AL
There are three general options to obtain electrician training in a technical or vocational school near Opelika AL. You may select a certificate or diploma program, or earn an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are offered at some schools, but are not as common as the first three alternatives. Often these programs are offered combined with an apprenticeship program, which are required by the majority of states in order to be licensed or if you want to become certified. Bellow are short explanations of the three most common programs available.
- Certificate and Diploma Programs are generally provided by Alabama technical and trade schools and require approximately a year to complete. They provide a good foundation and are geared towards students who would like to get into an apprenticeship faster as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degrees involve two years to finish and are offered by Alabama junior or community colleges, usually as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They offer a more extensive education while supplying the foundation that readies students to enter into their apprenticeship program.
As previously stated, Bachelor’s Degrees are accessible at certain Alabama colleges, but are less preferred at four years than the other shorter programs. The majority of states require that an apprenticeship of at least 2 years and more typically four years be carried out before licensing. Therefore, many students are anxious to begin their paid apprenticeship, particularly if it’s not a component of their academic program.
Electrician Licensing and Certification Criteria
Electricians in Opelika AL can perform a multitude of tasks, such as testing, installing and replacing electrical systems, and making sure that the wiring in houses and buildings are up to code standards. After concluding an apprenticeship, journeyman electricians are required to become licensed in the majority of states or municipalities. The duration of apprenticeship differs by state, but commonly around four to five years of prior experience is needed before taking the licensing exam. The exams commonly assess general knowledge and electrical theory, as well as knowledge of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Receiving certification is also a voluntary method for an electrician to differentiate him or herself as a skilled and experienced professional. The certifications offered vary by state and can be obtained in several specializations, including cable splicing as an example. The certification process usually includes three levels of proficiency:
- An experience requirement
- Passing a written exam
- Passing a practical exam
Examples of certifying organizations include the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) along with the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). It’s important that the electrician vocational school that you choose not only furnishes a solid educational foundation, but also helps prep you for passing any certification and licensing exams that you may be required to pass in the future.
Enrolling in Electrician Training Classes Online in Opelika AL
An option that you might have contemplated is enrolling in an electrician online program to earn a degree or a certificate. Even though online training programs have become more prevalent as a way of attending class without the need for travel, in this situation they are not totally internet based. Virtually all electrician training programs require partial attendance on campus to receive hands-on practical training. But since the rest of the classes can be attended online, internet learning may be a more accommodating alternative for individuals that have minimal time for education. And as an added benefit many online degree programs have a reduced tuition cost compared to their on-campus competitors. Commuting expenses from Opelika AL are also reduced and a portion of the study materials may be accessed online as well. All of these benefits can make online electrician tech schools more affordable and convenient. And a number are fully accredited, which we will discuss in our questions to ask checklist.
Things to Ask Electrician Technical Schools
Now that you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to narrow down your training options. Since there are numerous electrician vocational and trade schools in the Opelika AL area, it’s essential to have a checklist of criteria that each school must meet. The first 2 that we mentioned 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 although all three qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other variables that need to be taken into account as well. Below is a checklist of those added qualifications that you will need to assess before choosing an electrical technical school.
Accreditation. Many electrician vocational schools have attained 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 Opelika AL program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you acquire an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the electrician training program be accredited for it to be approved for licensing.
High Completion and Placement Rates. Ask the electrician training programs you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage or portion of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the program and quit. It may also indicate that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It’s similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which may mean 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 an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of contacts to assist Opelika AL students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous electrician vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of electrician contractors or trade unions. Check if the schools you are comparing have working relationships with Opelika AL area electricians or electrical contractors. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by providing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the regional electrician professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the campus facilities and the equipment that you will be trained 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, consult with the electrical tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. If not, ask a local Opelika AL electrical contractor if they can give you some tips. Also keep in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your Opelika residence. Remember that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there may be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a couple of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and experience the interaction between teachers and students. Talk with a few of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Verify that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Opelika AL, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Opelika AL?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Opelika AL area.
Opelika (pronounced |ˌoʊ pəˈlaɪ kə|) is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the State of Alabama. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. According to the 2013 Census Estimate, the population of Opelika was 28,635. The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 150,933 which, along with the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area and Macon County, Alabama, comprises the greater Greater Columbus, Georgia, a region home to 501,649 residents.
The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebanon. After the removal of the native Creek (Muscogee) peoples by federal troops in 1836-37, the area became known as "Opelika." This word taken from the Muskogee language means "large swamp". Settlement was sporadic until the late 1840s, when the railroad reached the town. This stimulated development of Opelika as a commercial center.
In 1848, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama, to Opelika, and in 1851, completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard. It rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery and West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia, in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.
Select the Right Electrician Trade School near Opelika AL
Picking the ideal electrician trade school will undoubtedly be the most critical decision you will make to start your new profession. As we have addressed in this article, there are many factors that you will need to evaluate and compare among the training programs you are looking at. It’s a prerequisite that any electrician tech school that you are reviewing includes a lot of hands-on instruction. Classes should be small in size and every student should have their own equipment to train with. Classroom instruction needs to provide a real-world frame of reference, and the training program should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Courses differ in length and the kind of credential provided, so you will have to decide what length of program and degree or certificate will best serve your needs. Each program provides unique options for certification as well. Perhaps The ideal way to research your final list of schools is to go to each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to sit in on a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the training program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and commitment, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional electrician in Opelika AL.
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