Electrician Certification, Diploma and Certificate Program Info
Read about certificate and diploma programs as well as certifications for electricians in this article. See educational prerequisites, program coursework, career opportunities and salary statistics.
Electricians are trained through apprenticeship programs sponsored by electrical contracting companies, local unions or national associations. Electricians-in-training may also complete certificate or diploma programs before or during their apprenticeships. In addition to the National Electrical Code, such programs focus on wiring, safety practices, blueprint reading, conduits and mathematics for electricians. After completing the apprenticeship, aspiring electricians can take the state licensing exam to become certified.
Certificate Programs for Electricians
Electrician certificate programs cover the maintenance and installation of electrical systems for residential, commercial and industrial properties. Construction safety is also dealt with. Certificate programs usually take under a year to complete.
A high school diploma or the equivalent is necessary to enter an electrician certificate program. No specific coursework is required; however, knowledge of basic circuitry and basic math is helpful.
Students learn technical skills as well as electrical theories and concepts. Courses may include the following:
- National Electrical Code
- Safety practices
- PLC programming and configuration
- Industrial controls
- Power distribution
Salary Information and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected employment for electricians to grow at a rate of 23% between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). Electricians with experience in new technologies, such as solar and wind power, might have the best opportunities. According to the BLS, electricians made a mean annual wage of $53,030 in 2012. During the apprenticeship period, an electrician can expect to make 30%-50% of the annual wage, per the BLS.
Apprenticeships and Continuing Education
Even after completing educational training programs, electricians generally complete apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are usually paid positions where entry-level electricians can receive hands-on training and instruction from experienced electricians. By the time electricians complete their apprenticeships, they have usually received enough training to pass the state licensing exam.
Diploma Programs for Electricians
Diploma programs and certificate programs are similar. They are often taken prior to starting apprenticeships and may help students land apprenticeship positions. Students learn the basics of electrical maintenance and installation. Electricity fundamentals, wiring methods and electrical motors are also covered.
The curriculum for a diploma program, much like a certificate program, covers the basics necessary to begin a career as an electrician. Courses cover theory, safety, tools and electrical concepts. Additional topics may include the following:
- Math skills for electricians
- Lighting control
- Blueprint reading
Upon completion of the diploma program, graduates may seek entry-level employment or apprenticeship positions. Job opportunities may include the following:
- Repair electrician
- Commercial electrician
- Residential electrician
- Industrial maintenance electrician
- Field electrician
- Installation electrician
Certification, Licensing and Continuing Education
Licensing and certification are awarded at the state level. Most states require electricians to demonstrate their knowledge of electrical theory, national codes and local codes by passing licensing exams, like the one required to become a licensed journeyman electrician. Some states require the master electrician certification for certain types of electrical work. Candidates may be required to have a certain number of years of working experience before becoming eligible for state certification and licensing. Continuing education is needed to keep up with changes in electrical codes as well as technology advancements.
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