How to Become an Electrician in Chicago Illinois
The initial step to becoming an electrical tradesman or contractor is finding an electrician trade school near Chicago IL. But with numerous vocational schools to choose from, just how do you tackle making sure that you enroll in the right one? Especially because there are so many variables to consider. For instance, some potential students will begin by searching for schools that are close to their residence. Once they have identified a few that are within commuting range, they will pick the one with the least expensive tuition. Although cost and location are significant, they are not the only things that should be considered. Also important are the accreditation and reputations of the schools, along with their graduation and job placement rates. These and other qualifiers should help mold your ultimate judgment when selecting an electrician training school. We will address that checklist in more detail later in this article. But to begin with, let’s talk a little bit about becoming an electrician and the training options that are offered.
Electrician Certificate, Diploma and Degree Options near Chicago IL
There are several ways to get electrician instruction in a trade or technical school near Chicago IL. You may enroll in a diploma or certificate program, or earn an Associate Degree. Bachelor’s Degrees are obtainable at a few schools, but are not as prevalent as the first three options. Frequently these programs are made available in conjunction with an apprenticeship, which are mandated by the majority of states to become licensed or if you want to become certified. Bellow are brief summaries of the three most typical programs available.
- Diploma and Certificate Programs are typically provided by Illinois technical and trade schools and take about a year to finish. They furnish a solid foundation and are aimed towards students who want to get into an apprenticeship faster as a journeyman electrician.
- Associate Degree Programs involve 2 years to finish and are provided by Illinois junior or community colleges, usually as an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology. They furnish a more well-rounded education while supplying the foundation that prepares students to join their apprenticeship program.
As earlier mentioned, Bachelor’s Degree programs are accessible at some Illinois colleges, but are less preferred at four years than the other shorter programs. Many states mandate that an apprenticeship of at least 2 years and in most cases 4 years be performed before licensing. Because of that, most students are anxious to begin their paid apprenticeship, especially if it’s not part of their educational program.
Electrician Certification and Licensing Prerequisites
Electricians in Chicago IL can perform a multitude of duties, such as installing, replacing and testing electrical systems, and ensuring that the wiring in houses and buildings comply with code standards. After concluding an apprenticeship, journeyman electricians are required to become licensed in the majority of states or municipalities. The period of apprenticeship varies by state, but usually around 4 to 5 years of prior experience is needed in order to take the licensing exam. The exams typically evaluate general knowledge and electrical theory, as well as knowledge of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Receiving certification is also an optional means for an electrician to differentiate him or herself as a experienced and skilled professional. The certifications offered vary by state and may be earned in many specialties, such as cable splicing as an example. The certification process usually involves 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) as well as the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET). It’s important that the electrician tech school that you select not only provides a strong academic foundation, but also helps prepare you for passing any certification and licensing examinations that you may need to take in the future.
Enrolling in Electrician Programs Online in Chicago IL
An option that you may have looked at is enrolling in an electrician online school to earn a certificate or degree. Even though online schools are becoming more popular as a way of attending class without the need for travel, in this situation they are not completely internet based. Pretty much all electrician schools require partial attendance on-campus to get hands-on practical training. But since the rest of the classes can be accessed online, internet learning might be a more convenient option for individuals that have minimal time for schooling. And as an added benefit many online degree programs have a cheaper tuition cost compared to their on-campus competitors. Travelling costs from Chicago IL are also reduced and some of the study materials can be accessed on line as well. Each of these advantages can make online electrician vocational schools more economical and convenient. And many are fully accredited, which we will address in our questions to ask checklist.
Topics to Ask Electrician Tech Schools
When you have decided to earn a diploma, certificate or degree, you can begin to focus your school options. Since there are numerous electrician trade and vocational schools in the Chicago IL area, it’s essential to have a checklist of qualifications that each school must satisfy. The first 2 that we mentioned were location and tuition expense. If you are interested in earning an degree online, then that needs to be an option that your final school offers. And while all three qualifiers may be important when making your determination, there are other factors that need to be considered also. Below is a checklist of those added qualifiers that you will need to analyze before selecting an electrical technical school.
Accreditation. A large number of electrician technical schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They can earn Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, such as electrical technology. Make certain that the Chicago IL program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you obtain an excellent education, it can assist in obtaining financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Also, 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 schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the portion or percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A low completion rate might signify that students were disappointed with the course and quit. It could also mean that the teachers were not competent to instruct the students. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive list of alumni, which can result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the field, but also that it has the network of contacts to help Chicago IL grads obtain apprenticeships or jobs.
Apprenticeship Programs. A large number of electrician vocational programs are taught along with an internship or an apprenticeship 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 comparing have referring partnerships with Chicago IL area electricians or electrical specialists. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by furnishing hands-on training, but it also furnishes job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the regional 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 in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the electrical specialist you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Chicago IL electrical contractor if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are willing to move, the school must be within driving distance of your Chicago home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, besides the added relocation costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much individualized instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak with a few of the students and get their opinions concerning class sizes and instruction. Last, talk with a few of the instructors and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Chicago IL, confirm that the programs you are reviewing offer those choices. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Finally, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family issues.
Considering Attending an Electrician School near Chicago IL?
Following is a little bit of background information about the Chicago IL area.
Chicago (/ʃɪˈkɑːɡoʊ/ ( listen), locally also /-ˈkɔː-/), officially the City of Chicago, is the third most populous city in the United States, after New York City and Los Angeles. With over 2.7 million residents, it is also the most populous city in both the state of Illinois and the Midwestern United States. It is the county seat of Cook County. The Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, has nearly 10 million people and is the third-largest in the United States. It is the birthplace of the skyscraper and perhaps the most influential architectural city of the 20th century. Chicago saw the creation of the first standardized futures contracts at the Chicago Board of Trade; today its successor has evolved into the largest and most diverse derivatives market in the world, generating 20% of all volume in commodities and financial futures.
Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837 near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed and grew rapidly in the mid-nineteenth century. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed several square miles and left more than 100,000 homeless, the city made a concerted effort to rebuild. The construction boom accelerated population growth throughout the following decades, and by 1900 Chicago was one of the five largest cities in the world. During this period, Chicago made noted contributions to urban planning and zoning standards, new construction styles (including the Chicago School of architecture), the development of the City Beautiful Movement, and the steel-framed skyscraper.
Positioned along Lake Michigan, the city is an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, technology, telecommunications, and transportation. O'Hare International Airport is the one of the busiest airports in the world, and the region also has the largest number of U.S. highways and railroad freight. In 2012, Chicago was listed as an alpha global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and it ranked seventh in the entire world in the 2017 Global Cities Index. Chicago has the fourth-largest gross metropolitan product in the world—about $670.5 billion according to September 2017 estimates-ranking it after the metropolitan areas of Tokyo, New York City, and Los Angeles, and ranking ahead of number five London and number six Paris. Chicago is also the largest economy in the Midwestern United States. The city has one of the world's largest and most diversified and balanced economies; not dependent on any one industry, with no single industry employing more than 14% of the workforce.
Enroll in the Right Electrical Trade School near Chicago IL
Choosing the right electrician trade school will undoubtedly be the most important decision you will make to launch your new trade. As we have covered in this article, there are several factors that you will need to examine and compare between the schools you are reviewing. It’s a necessity that any electrical training program that you are examining includes a considerable amount of hands-on training. Classes need to be small in size and every student must have their personal equipment to train with. Classroom teaching should provide a real-world frame of reference, and the curriculum should be up-to-date and conform with industry standards. Programs vary in length and the kind of credential offered, so you will have to ascertain what length of program and degree or certificate will best fulfill your needs. Every training program offers different options for certification also. Probably the best means to research your final list of schools is to check out each campus and talk with the teachers and students. Invest some time to monitor a few classes. Tour the campus and facilities. Make sure that you are confident that the program you decide on is the ideal one for you. With the proper training, effort and dedication, the final outcome will be a new trade as a professional electrician in Chicago IL.
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