Electrician Certificate: Overview of Programs
Students interested in becoming electricians can enroll in community college certificate programs. In some cases, program coursework may be combined with the apprenticeship training required for licensure as a journeyman electrician. Read on to learn more about the admissions and course requirements for these programs.
Students in electrician certificate programs begin by learning about job safety, tool and equipment use, electrical hazards and basic first aid. Students can also learn how to choose the right insulators and conductors, read meters and set up rigging. They might study industrial and commercial wiring techniques as well.
Some certificate programs may be completed in conjunction with an apprenticeship program. In addition to taking classes, students also participate in on-the-job training. These programs may also offer specializations for such trades as inside electrician or manufacturing plant electrician.
Most certificate programs admit students with a high school diploma or GED. Those that are part of apprenticeship programs may require students to complete prerequisite math courses or pass math placement tests. Additionally, first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification may be required by some schools. Programs that include specialization areas may only admit applicants who already hold a journeyman electrician card.
Most programs include basic math courses, especially in algebra. Some programs may also offer specialty courses in topics like fiber optics or security systems. Other topics include:
- National Electrical Code (NEC)
- Residential wiring
- Industrial electrical concepts
- Electric motors
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations
- Electric circuits
- Blueprint reading
- Voltage testing
Employment Outlook and Career Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 584,000 jobs were held by electricians in 2012 (www.bls.gov). A faster-than-average 20% increase in employment opportunities for these professionals was projected for the 2012-2022 decade. This job growth was expected to come from new construction and the need to update electrical systems in older commercial properties and homes. Additionally, the increasing use of automated technologies was expected to aid job growth. The mean annual wage for electricians was $53,560 as of May 2013.
Licensing and Continuing Education Info
Most states require electricians to be licensed, according to the BLS. In some cases, applicants can be licensed as journeyman electricians after completing an apprenticeship program or acquiring at least four years of work experience. They must also pass a written examination. These professionals may perform electrical work without supervision.
With additional work experience or a bachelor's degree in a field such as electrical engineering, journeymen electricians can become licensed as master electricians. The BLS states that electricians who want to work as contractors may be required to hold this credential.
Electrical engineering bachelor's degree programs can include coursework in analog and linear circuits, calculus and control systems. Some programs may even offer specializations or focus areas in topics such as alternative energy systems, electro-mechanical systems, signal processing and electromagnetics.
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