Hello, I know that I want to be an electrician and as of right now i am still in high school. I do graduate this year and was wondering if i should go to college to be an electrician or what other options are there? I would like to go to college. But please give me some other options. What would be the easiest route to take?
Get hired on with an Electrical Contracting Company that provides schooling as one of their benefits.
Tell them that you have a tool belt and tools and are very eager to learn and willing to work hard. Tell them that you have a lot of common sense and that the electrical industry interests you very much.
Once you are hired on. Do what ever you need to, to get signed up in the school that they provide. Usually some sort of apprenticeship Program. Two nights a week, for a couple hours per night.
Before you know it, you will be well on your way to owning your own Electrical Contracting Company some day.
if you havent worked for an electrician, i recommend it before doing anything. that way you will see if its what you want to do for certain.
if you have, then take classes. the best way to learn the work is in the field. to learn the technical aspects, use home study books along with classroom time.
considering the amount of time required to become proficient as an electrician you should be aware that you may not earn as much over the course of your career as compared to other lines of work. when i got my 4 year journeymans card the people working in the car wash next door were making as much as we were and it probably hasnt changed much since then.
What is it that makes you want to be an electrician? Is your Dad one? Or do you know an electrician?
I got start working for an electrical contractor wiring new homes during the summer while I was in high school. I think that would be a good start for you. This next summer find an electrician that needs a helper and start working. You'll find out quickly if it's right for you.
As far a college goes, I don't know of a "real" college or univeristy that teaches you to be an electrican. There are some vo-tech schools that offer electrical programs. You could take electrical engineering courses, though.
My two cents worth: Find a good school that will teach you electricity. How it work, why it works. What i mean is try to learn as much as you can from the books, articles, by asking, magazines. Learn, learn, learn. At the same time try to find a position in this field this way you are learning the books version and the hands on version. The more you learn the easier to troubleshoot a system. Then again the electrical field requires you to be up-to-date. If you want to succeed you must keep up with the learning process.
My experience in the trade. I started while I was in High School, Then I went to Michigan State University through their Electrical Technology Program which is a 2 yr Associates Degree. I have never regreted that schooling. There is only 2 schools that offer that program that I know of, Michigan State University and North Carolina State University. I am now into my 27 year as an electrician/ contractor. Doug
I went through Northeast State Community College's Electrical Technology program, its a 2 year AAS degree. It was very good and teaches you basically to be an electrician. There were plenty of courses for theory as well as plenty of practical work related courses. I did things a little differently because of the way I entered in the program but the course outline is.
Fall yr 1 D.C. Fundamentals National Electrical Code Comp I Social Science
Spring yr 1 A.C. Fundamentals Motors, Alternators and Generators Trigonometry Public Speaking
Fall yr 2 Transformers and Power Factor Correction Magnetic Motor Controls Industrial Electronics Physical Science
Spring yr 2 Residental and Commercial Wiring Industrial PLC's Refrigeration and Air Conditioning I 2 electives
All of these were great courses. We had 2 instructors, one had a Masters License and the other was a Journeyman, both had many years of practical expierience.
My favorites were: NEC, this was an awesome class. It was kinda rough at times and you had to study but I really loved it.
Motors, Alternators and Generators. This was really fun too because you first get to learn all the theory and math dealing with motors then you have a lab where you actually get to connect the motors. We had just about every motor type you could think of. The final lab exam was to take a 9 lead 3 phase motor with no lead markings and use what you learned about transformers and their polarity to correctly mark the leads.. then go run the motor. Your tools were a screwdriver, a variable AC source, a multimeter and a pack of number tape.
Trig.. I had a really fun time here. Its very important when dealing with AC. I didnt know it but I think I really enjoyed it because later I discovered that Im a math geek.
Transformers and PF correction: This was fun for me too. Just like the motors class you first had a good dose of theory then you got to work on actual 5KVA transformers. We had enough per person to where each could make up thier own wye, delta and other weird connections. In our booths we each also had light bulbs for loads. Heres where I learned a whole lot about loose neutrals.
Magnetic Motor controls: This deals a lot with control systems using magnetics. In each of our booths we had contactors, relays with lots of push button start stop stations. They would go over in class fundamentals of control then in the lab youd actually do it. Some highlights were interconnecting all of the booths (20 total) and having the lights in each timed to come on in stages then back off in stages. The final lab exam is wiring a 4 floor elevator with indicator lights and every operation that a real elevator has.
Industrial Electronics: It was basically just an electronics course. Like the others you learned theory then practical stuff. We made dimmers, speed controls and such. Although not required to pass we did wire that elevator using a bunch of AND OR and NOR gates. We also had a bunch of motors and variable frequency drives to play with.
Residental Commercial wiring: Very fun! The classroom activity is lots of wiring practices as well as NEC work. Here I learned a lot about system grounding and equipment grounding, the differences between the two and the proper way to install it according to the NEC. The lab activity had 10 booths each having a 60 amp electrical service. You would wire up 3 way switches, receptacls, lights.. you name it. We also did lots of multiwire branch circuits. As always with this neatness counts!!! We also had "The House". The house is an actual home built in the lab but not finished out. Here you will completley wire the home from kitchen to bedroom as well as install an overhead service with meterbase, plus HVAC equipment. We also did plenty of conduit bending and installation from every size between 1/2" to 4" using every bender imagninable from hand to hydraulic.
Industrial PLC's: Here we programmed Allen Bradley and Siemens PLC's. This included a little theory and a lot of practical work. For the lab you would work in one of the 20 booths, having an Allen Bradley system. Here we interconnected all the lights and made some really cool programs. Nothings quite like hearing over 60 relays opening and closing rapidly to make a light show!! We also did traffic lights and the final exam was to run the elevator using PLC controls. We also ran some of the VFD's and motors using PLC controls.
Coming out of all that I felt really prepared and did work with an electrical contractor for a while. It was fun but rough. It was during this time where I really found out that I was a math geek. So I did the best I could and mixed math and electrical and am now working toward a BSEE. The math is really wild. Im in Calc III right now and all the 3D stuff is very cool.
Here is my 2 cents, go to a local electrical supply house and ask them who is looking for work. They should know who is busy, who is not, who is looking for help, etc. Then try and work in the field for a while before you enroll in a school. If you like the job, ( and some people don't) then I would find a good , local vo tech and get your class room training or go into the union apprentice program. Try it first before you waste your time money and effort in a trade school. Are you afraid of hieghts? Or are you afraid of crawl spaces? Electrical work may not your cup of tea then. One of my helpers was afraid and he couldn't do the high work or the enclosed spaces type of work. In that case, why would he want to be an electrician?
All good advice above, if you notice in most of the posts they recommend working in the field for a while, this trial time will give you a chance to see if this field is for you. Most county colleges offer a two year program with electrical subjects. If you enroll in college, and work for a contractor part time this would be a good start. Most of the students we had worked with us part time took this route. I am proud to report that today every one of them could buy a car wash. Don't look for the easy way, it does not exist.