Electricians have a specialized skill that shows no sign of diminishing in importance. Electricians can expect strong job prospects and competitive salaries in the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that electricians earn a median salary of $55,190 a year, significantly more than the average worker's median annual wages of $38,640. The BLS also projects a strong market for electricians, with faster than average job growth projected from 2018-2028.
In addition to earning more than average, electricians spend less time and money learning their craft than many other professionals. Prospective electricians usually gain the skills and knowledge they need through some combination of college, trade school, and apprenticeships. Electricians do not need to earn a four-year college degree, but completing a college program may lead to increased career opportunities.
Many schools offer online electrician degrees for students interested in pursuing a career in the trade. Read on to find out about pathways for becoming a licensed electrician, online electrician programs, and choosing the right training program. This guide also covers electrician job and salary outlook and includes an interview with a licensed electrician.
Top 10 Best Electrician Schools and Programs
|1||Washburn Institute of Technology||Topeka, KS||Electrical Technology Career Program|
|2||Pamlico Community College||Gransboro, NC||Electrical Systems Technology Program|
|3||Salina Area Technical College||Salina, KS||Electrical Technology Program|
|4||Central Louisiana Technical Community College||Alexandria, LA||Electrician Technology Career Program|
|5||Altierus Career College||Tampa, FL||Electrical Construction Technician Trade Program|
|6||Mitchell Technical Institute||Mitchell, SD||Electrical Construction and Maintenance Program|
|7||Weber State University||Ogden, UT||Associate of Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology
|8||Northern Michigan University||Marquette, MI||Associate Degree in Electrical Technology
Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering Technology
|9||Ferris State University||Big Rapids, MI||Associate in Applied Science in Industrial Electronics Technology
Bachelor of Science in Electrical/Electronics Engineering Technology
|10||Pittsburgh State University||Pittsburg, KS||Associate in Applied Science in Electrical Technology|
How to Become an Electrician: Education and Training
Prospective electricians typically learn the trade through electrician trade school or college, a paid apprenticeship, or a combination of the two. Becoming an electrician does not require a four-year college degree, but enrolling in an electrician program or school can kickstart a career in the industry. Many technical and community colleges offer certificates or two-year associate programs in electrical technology.
It is nearly impossible to become a licensed electrician without completing an apprenticeship, as states require them as a prerequisite to taking licensing exams. Individuals who complete a college or trade school electrician program usually receive credit towards the required hours for their apprenticeship. Some students can complete part of the apprenticeship while still in school.
Enrolling in an electrician trade school or program provides a good introduction to the field and a path to receiving more formal instruction in the craft. Trade programs in electrical technology typically offer courses in safety practices, circuitry, and basic electrical information. Instruction also includes an overview of residential and construction electrical, electrical theory, and blueprint reading.
Electrician trade school programs offer technical certificates or associate of science degrees in electrical technology. Students who pursue an associate degree must take general education classes in addition to electrical technology courses. Some learners may choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. Electrical contractors must hold this degree or complete an additional seven years of work experience (in addition to the experience required to become a master electrician).
Electrician trade school graduates usually receive credit toward their apprenticeship, reducing the time it takes to become a licensed electrician. For example, they may be able to start their apprenticeship at the second electrician level (journeyman) instead of the first (apprentice). Many trade school or community college programs also incorporate apprenticeships into their curricula.
A critical part of the process of becoming a licensed electrician, apprenticeships provide technical instruction and hands-on training for future electricians. To receive an electrician license from a state, county, or town, applicants need proof of supervised on-the-job training -- in other words, an apprenticeship. Many college and trade school electrician programs include an apprenticeship component. In other cases, trade school or community college graduates earn credit towards their apprenticeship.
Prospective electricians who do not want to enroll in a college or technical school program can begin learning immediately through an apprenticeship. Some electricians start an apprenticeship after working as an electrician's helper, but most enter their apprenticeship directly. Contractor associations, unions, and other groups sponsor electrician apprenticeships. Apprentices are paid. They earn less than licensed electricians to start, but receive free training and instruction from experienced electricians.
Electrician apprenticeships typically last 4-5 years and include technical instruction and paid hands-on training in the field. During the apprenticeship, apprentices learn about electrical theory, electrical code requirements, blueprint reading, safety practices, and mathematics through hands-on practice and training from a supervising licensed electrician. After completing their apprenticeship, electricians become journeyman workers and can usually start performing electrical work on their own.
School vs. Apprenticeship: Choosing an Electrician Training Program
Electrician school and apprenticeships both offer promising pathways to a new career as an electrician. Choosing the right type of electrician training program is a personal decision. The right program for you might depend on what you hope to achieve, whether you need a certain type of schedule, and what you can afford. It might also depend on your individual learning style, your work history, and how much related experience and electrical knowledge you already have.
Electrical trade school or college is the first step for many people in pursuing a career as an electrician. Students take electrical technology courses, develop an understanding of the craft, and learn from experienced teachers. If you like the idea of a structured curriculum, classroom learning, and the support of teachers and a cohort of classmates, consider electrical trade school. Tuition varies by school and program, but earning a certificate typically costs much less than completing an associate degree.
Another benefit of going to school to become an electrician includes the development of soft skills like communication, budgeting, and time management. Attending a formal school also provides access to support services like career development centers that can help graduates find jobs and connect with potential employers. Most programs also offer flexible schedules that allow students to work part time while in school.
Future electricians can also enter directly into an apprenticeship without ever going to school. One of the major benefits of completing an apprenticeship is that you get paid while receiving the required hands-on training required to become a licensed electrician. Even though apprentices make a low salary, they can still count on a consistent income. Technical schools and colleges, on the other hand, require students to pay tuition to learn the trade.
Individuals who choose apprenticeship programs can look forward to immediate hands-on training and real-world experience. They get a taste of what it takes to be an electrician right away. Another benefit of an apprenticeship is the possibility of getting a job offer from your supervisor at the end of your training.
Keep in mind that you may need to complete some type of apprenticeship or hands-on training even if you do go to electrician technical school or college. To receive your electrician license, you need a certain number of hours of on-the-job training or professional experience. Most college and technical school programs in electrical technology include at least a partial apprenticeship component. Students can usually get credit towards their apprenticeship requirement in schools that do not offer that component.
No matter which route you take, you can receive the training and skills you need to become a licensed electrician.
Electrician Job and Salary Outlook
Becoming an electrician can lead to a comfortable salary without needing to pay for a four-year college degree. In fact, electricians get paid while receiving technical instruction and on-the-job training through an apprenticeship program. Most people in other fields must pay significant amounts of money to learn their profession and qualify for jobs.
Licensed electricians earn more than average, with a median wage of $55,190 per year. The average construction worker makes $44,810 per year, and the average American makes just $38,640 annually. Top-paying industries for electricians include government work -- in which electricians earn $62,111 per year -- and manufacturing, which provides a median annual salary of $58,990. New electricians and apprentices start out making lower salaries but earn substantially more as they gain experience. The top 10% of electricians make more than $94,620 a year.
Electricians can expect an excellent job outlook, with a faster-than-average projected growth rate for the trade. The BLS projects that the number of electrician jobs will grow 10% between 2018-28, with about 94,000 electrician job openings each year.
Unlike some other tradespeople, electricians are difficult to replace with technology. Businesses and homes need electrical wiring installed and maintained by experienced, skilled electricians. Ongoing construction and increased interest in alternative sources of energy should contribute to the high demand for electricians.
Another benefit of becoming an electrician is the freedom and flexibility to work whenever and wherever you want. Electricians are essential all over the world and can often set their own hours and start their own businesses.
Licenses and Certifications For Electricians
In the United States, electricians do not receive a national license. Instead, most states regulate the industry and oversee electrician licensure. Most states require electricians to hold a license to work, but even in those that do not, individual counties, cities, or towns usually require a license. States and localities hold different licensure requirements, so contact your state or local electrical licensing board for more information. The National Electrical Contractors Association provides information about licensing requirements.
To receive a state license, electricians must pass the state test, which assesses knowledge of local electrical codes and the National Electrical Code. Passing the licensing test demonstrates that an individual can safely install electrical equipment and wiring. After receiving a license, electricians in some states and localities must complete continuing education courses on issues like electrical code changes and safety to maintain their licenses. Because they often drive to job sites, electricians usually need a driver's license.
In Colorado, for example, electricians apply for one of three electrician licenses from the state electrical board: residential wireman, journeyman electrician, or master electrician. To qualify for a residential wireman license, applicants must pass an exam and submit documentation of at least 4,000 hours of residential electrical experience over at least two years. Journeyman and master electrician licenses require additional experience.
Colorado and many other states also offer electrician licensure by reciprocity, recognizing journeyman or master electrician licenses from other states that participate in the National Electrical Reciprocal Alliance.
Electricians can also pursue voluntary certifications that demonstrate knowledge in specialized areas like lighting systems, solar photovoltaic, and electrical generating. To receive certification, electricians must meet experience requirements and pass a multiple-choice certification test.
A variety of organizations offer certifications. For example, the National Fire Protection Association offers the certified electrical safety compliance professional, certified electrical safety worker, and ccertified electrical safety technician certifications.
Expert Advice From a Licensed Electrician
Here is an interview with Marc Nowak, a licensed journeyman electrician and an instructor at Lincoln Technical Institute.
Benefits range from the simple -- like being more knowledgeable than someone without an education -- to the more complex, like having a support system to guide you through your career. Many people working in the field only know a small portion of the work electricians perform. Receiving a formal education gives students a chance to learn a broader scope of work and work-related skills.
Most electrical technology courses focus on the two most important things: safety and the National Electrical Code. After basic theory courses, students are introduced to materials (Romex, MC, EMT, etc.) and basic installation methods (switching, receptacles, disconnects, and starters). Then, students move on to more complex equipment (motors, transformers, VFDs, and PLCs). However, courses are constantly changing to keep pace with our industry. New avenues of education being brought to these courses involve environmentally friendly and green technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, and fuel cells.
Know who you are. I went to a four-year college and spent five years getting a bachelor's degree because I didn't know myself well enough. The students who always work their hardest are always the first to get employment. It's easy to work hard at something if you love doing it.
Those interested in enrolling in a program that teaches the industry-specific skills they will need to kick-start a career as an electrician may want to look into electrician schools and programs. Through one of these programs, students will be able to learn how to install, maintain and repair electric power in various settings. To help students find the best program that meets their individual needs, we have ranked the best electrician schools and programs in the country based on our criteria. Explore the top electrician schools and programs below.
|Rank||Logo||School||Tuition||# of Online Programs||Acceptance Rate||Graduation Rate||Financial Aid||Credit For Experience||Placement Service||Counseling Services||Description & Additional Information||Toggle|
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|1||Washburn Institute of Technology Topeka, KS||Tuition $5,472||# of Online Programs 2||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 82%||Financial Aid 54%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
Located in Topeka, Kansas, Washburn Tech is part of Washburn University, which serves more than 6,000 students. The university provides career-specific training in a format that fits students' lifestyles. Washburn Tech offers an online electrician degree to help future professionals enter this rewarding, hands-on career field.
Washburn Tech's electrical technology career program prepares students to work in electrical maintenance and construction. Open to high schoolers and adults, the half-day program takes two semesters to complete. Courses include print reading, commercial wiring, residential wiring, national electrical code II, and international residential code. Upon completing the program, students can pursue professional licensure.
Admission to the electrician program requires an applied math score of six and a reading for information score of five on the Accuplacer.
Washburn Tech is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, and the program is accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.
|2||Pamlico Community College Gransboro, NC||Tuition $1,824||# of Online Programs 2||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 72%||Financial Aid 18%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
A public community college located in Grantsboro, North Carolina, PCC serves about 600 students. The school provides career-ready programs, including an electrician degree.
PCC's electrical systems technology program involves hands-on training in basic wiring practices, conduit bending, and industrial motor controls. Major courses include codes and standards, digital electronics, construction math, and programmable logic controllers.
The 67-credit program can lead to an associate degree along with certification in career readiness, an OSHA-10 card, and an NCCER national registry listing. Applicants need a high school diploma or its equivalent and may need to take a placement test to determine the right math and English course sequence.
PCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the electrician program is accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.
|3||Salina Area Technical College Salina, KS||Tuition $4,531||# of Online Programs 4||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 77%||Financial Aid 4%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
Situated in Salina, Kansas, SATC is a public technical college of about 800 students. The school offers associate degrees along with career preparation certificates, and learners can pursue an electrician degree over two years.
SATC's electrical technology career program equips students with the skills to calculate accurately; use appropriate electrical terminology; and interpret blueprints, diagrams, and schematics. Courses include technical math, commercial wiring, blueprint reading, and tech writing. Upon graduation, students can pursue jobs as journeyman electricians, water plant electricians, or electrical and instrumentation technicians. The 60-credit program leads to an associate degree.
Applicants should hold a high school diploma or its equivalent and earn acceptable scores on the ACT, SAT, or Accuplacer. Prospective students with college credits earned at another accredited school may transfer courses completed with a 2.0 GPA or higher.
SATC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
|4||Central Louisiana Technical Community College Alexandria, LA||Tuition $3,335||# of Online Programs 4||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 72%||Financial Aid 20%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
A public community college located in Alexandria, Louisiana, CLTCC provides work-ready education to about 2,000 students across eight campuses. The college's programs include a 45-credit electrician degree.
CLTCC's electrician technology career program provides future electricians with a technical diploma and competency certificates in seven areas, including industrial electrician, solar systems, and commercial wiring. Courses include electrical raceways, blueprint interpretation, technical mathematics for electricians, and introduction to programmable logic controllers. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA to graduate.
The electrician program requires 1,350 hours to complete. By taking 15 credits per semester, students can finish the program in about two years. Admission requires a high school diploma, GED, or HiSET along with ACT, SAT, or Accuplacer scores.
CLTCC is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education.
|5||Altierus Career College Tampa, FL||Tuition $12,729||# of Online Programs 1||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 75%||Financial Aid 3%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
Located in Tampa, Florida, Alterius offers career-focused education for in-demand industries to about 1,200 students. The college's electrician degree features a blend of online and on-campus learning.
Students in the college's electrical construction technician trade program learn to install, maintain, and repair electrical systems. Courses include electrical theory, electric motors, electrical craft skills, and transformers and power distribution. The 58-credit curriculum takes nine months to complete and requires students to attend on-campus learning experiences three days per week. Learners spend 420 hours in the classroom and 260 hours in the lab. By studying an extra three months, learners can add training as industrial electrical technicians.
Alterius is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, and the electrician program is accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.
|6||Mitchell Technical Institute Mitchell, SD||Tuition $3,488||# of Online Programs 5||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 70%||Financial Aid 26%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
A public technical school in Watertown, South Dakota, MTI serves about 1,200 students through its 25 associate degrees and 15 certificates. MTI offers an electrician degree that boasts a 100% job placement rate for graduates.
Students in the electrical construction and maintenance program prepare for careers in residential and commercial wiring and maintenance. During the program, students review basic math related to the electrical trade and receive an introduction to materials, theories, tools, circuit construction and troubleshooting practices.
The curriculum also includes courses in estimating, equipment installation, blueprint reading, and motor theory. Additional coursework includes programmable logic controls along with fiber optic and data cabling. Upon completing the program, graduates receive 2,000 hours toward journeyman electrician licensure in South Dakota. Applicants need to submit high school transcripts and ACT, Accuplacer, SAT, or Compass scores.
MTI is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
|7||Weber State University Ogden, UT||Tuition $4,611||# of Online Programs 1||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 50%||Financial Aid 58%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
Founded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1889, WSU is now a public institution located in Ogden, Utah. The university serves about 27,000 students in academic and career-focused programs, including an electrician degree.
WSU offers both an associate of applied science and a bachelor of science in electronics engineering technology. The associate program requires 67 credits -- including 37 major credits -- and the bachelor's degree requires 122 credits. Courses include digital systems, semiconductor circuits, troubleshooting, PC board designs, and solar PV technical assessments. Students in both programs must maintain a 2.0 GPA to graduate.
Applicants to the associate program need a high school or a GED diploma with a score of 2250 or above. They also need either an ACT score of at least 21 or an SAT score of 1030.
WSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
|8||Northern Michigan University Marquette, MI||Tuition $9,330||# of Online Programs 1||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 52%||Financial Aid 82%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
A public university located in Marquette on the state's Upper Peninsula, NMU serves about 8,000 graduate and undergraduate students. The school offers approximately 180 programs, including an electrician degree.
Students in NMU's associate degree in electrical technology and bachelor's in electrical engineering technology can prepare for careers as electrical engineers, alternative energy leaders, electrical chip designers, or managers at power companies.
The two-year program requires 60 credits and offers three tracks: general electronics, industrial electrical, and electrical power technician. The four-year degree requires 120 credits. Both programs provide graduates with a strong background in testing, process control systems, and circuit analysis.
Required courses for the associate degree include advanced linear circuits, discrete semiconductors, digital electronics, and general industrial safety. Learners must maintain a 2.25 GPA to graduate.
NMU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
|9||Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI||Tuition $11,144||# of Online Programs 2||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 51%||Financial Aid 69%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
A public research university located in Big Rapids, Michigan, FSU serves about 15,000 students, making it the ninth-largest higher education institution in the state. Through FSU, students can earn an associate in applied science in industrial electronics technology and a bachelor of science in electrical/electronics engineering technology.
FSU's electrician degree offers a distinctive 2+2 laddering system in which students earn a two-year associate degree and then add on another two years at either FSU or another institution. Courses include troubleshooting, electric circuits one and two, engineering graphics comprehensive, and industrial automation and motors.
Applicants need a high school GPA of 2.75 and qualifying scores on the ACT or SAT.
FSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the electrician program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
|10||Pittsburgh State University Pittsburgh, PA||Tuition $5,396||# of Online Programs 2||Acceptance Rate -||Graduation Rate 51%||Financial Aid 59%||Credit For Experience Yes||Placement Service Yes||Counseling Services Yes||
A public university located in Pittsburg, Kansas, PSU serves about 7,500 graduate and undergraduate students. The university offers various academic and career-focused programs, including an electrician degree.
Graduates from PSU's associate in applied science in electrical technology can pursue careers or further education in residential electrical wiring, commercial electrical construction, and industrial electrical construction and maintenance. This two-year, hands-on technical program prepares students to earn journeyman electrician licensure in Kansas.
The degree takes five semesters to complete and includes courses in residential wiring methods, cooperative industrial training, and electrical estimating and blueprint reading. Applicants under 21 should hold a high school diploma with a minimum GPA of 2.0 (Kansas residents) or 2.5 (non-residents). All prospective students must either meet a minimum ACT or SAT score requirement or place in the top third of their graduating class.
PSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.