Electricity is one of those careers that likely won’t disappear as our dependency for electricity only increases. Our society is dependent on it in many ways. As an electrician, you can work in a variety of settings from working with computer systems, or you can wire new homes, alarm systems, or eventually move up to wiring city buildings.
Electrical Technician Diploma Programs
Electrical technician programs at vocational schools are usually offered as diploma programs. Having an Electrical Technician diploma in Texas can be used as a starting point to get a job in the electrical field, although you should be aware that your career opportunities will be limited unless you complete an apprenticeship program and gain your official license. Some of the positions that may be available to you with just a diploma are as a service technician working with computers, wiring cars or working on agricultural equipment.
Most of these diploma programs will have little variation on what they teach you. On one important side you will learn about is compliance with national electrical codes, environmental protection agency (EPA) standards and guidelines, and occupational safety rules. More specifically for electrical technicians, you will learn about motor and transformer systems, reactance and impedance, and conduit bending.
Penn Foster Career School has a unique program that includes these lessons and a few more in 15 instructional sets that are sent to your house so you can learn at your own pace and then take regular tests online to earn the diploma. The other schools, such as Kaplan and the Lamson Institute, have more traditional in-class programs that aim to include hands-on training.
The Penn Foster program allows students to take up to two years to complete the program, but estimate students usually take an average of 14 months. An average for other electrical technician diploma programs is of nine months, or less than a year.
The Southeastern Career Institute, that is now part of Kaplan’s network of schools, charges an estimated $14,000 for its nine-month program. Penn Foster’s program is an exception in prices as well, charging $998 for its 15 instruction set diploma program.
In order to work in most areas of the electrical field, Texas requires you to be licensed. To become licensed, the most basic starting license is a journeyman’s license, which requires 8,000 hours of on the job training work, or the equivalent of about 4 years of full-time work.
Although the time-commitment is significant, the good news is that you are paid a reasonable rate during your apprenticeship and employed the entire time. Kelly Steele, a receptionist at El Paso Electricians Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, said students start earning $9.10 an hour, and are eligible for raises twice a year if they satisfy school requirements such as not missing class more than twice per year.
As part of the apprenticeship program, you are enrolled in electrical classes but the tuition is covered as part of the program. However, the student is usually responsible for tools, equipment and required safety clothing, and occasionally for books.
At the end of the four or five years working and learning as an apprentice, you can apply for a license. Steele said at the end of the four years students are often able to get jobs with their license, earning about $20 per hour. To keep working as an electrician in Texas, the license also has to be renewed every year and requires four hours of renewed education each time.
You can apply for an electrician apprenticeship through the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. To get into an apprenticeship program, many places will also require a valid driving license, and a clear background check with no convictions.
Apprenticeship programs are offered at:
ABC South Texas Chapter, San Antonio
ABC Southeast Texas, Nederland
Austin JATC, Austin
Britt Rice Construction Company, College Station
IEC Dallas, Irving
IEC El Paso Chapter Inc, El Paso
IEC, multiple Texas locations
North Texas Electrical JATC, Grand Prairie
Pfeiffer & Son, LTD, La Porte
South Texas Electrical JATC, San Antonio
Texas Gulf Coast Electrical JATC, Corpus Christi
West Texas Electrical JATC, Amarillo
Read about what to consider when choosing your career as an electrician.