Students can expect a division between hands-on labs and classroom lectures when they study for an electrical technology associate’s degree. These programs usually are 18 to 24 months and give students a chance to work with machines, devices, and electronic and electrical systems.
A.A. Programs in Electrical Technology
Students enrolled in Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Science programs in electrical technology are trained in the installing, testing, maintaining and repairing of electronic circuits and devices and electrical equipment. Coursework focuses on general electrical theory and relies substantially on concepts in science and math. Classroom lectures adhere to standards defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency involved in governing technical wiring methods in addition to worker safety practices. Training on programmable logic controllers (PLC) – employed in manufacturing among other applications – is also included in some programs.
Lab training enables students to hone their skills in repair, troubleshooting, installation and wiring, in keeping with the standards defined by the National Electrical Code (NEC). Lab training may specifically teach students how to wire a new building, install a lighting system or connect industrial equipment. Lab training also covers OSHA safety practices.
Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. The passage of math placement examinations may also be required in some programs. In general, a set of specific tools may need to be acquired by students enrolled in an associate program.
Broad academic courses are taught to students to augment classes in core electrical technology subjects. Coursework may include subject areas such as:
•Alternating and direct current (AC and DC)
•NEC and OSHA standards
•Electrical drawings and blueprints
Students are imparted the skills and knowledge they would expect to have by employers such as telecommunication companies, utility companies and construction companies. Typically, these professionals can aspire for entry-level jobs such as:
•Electrical relay technician
•Electrical distribution salesperson
•Electrical research technician
Licensure and Continuing Education Choices
Prospective electricians must satisfy licensure standards in a majority of states before they are allowed to practice their profession; (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). These standards include passage of tests that cover local, state and NEC codes (BLS). Applicants may also be required by job givers to pursue hands-on training by participating in apprenticeships after the completion of classroom-based courses.
Those who seek advancement in the industry could also pursue continued education through bachelor’s degree programs in areas such as electronics engineering technology and building automation technology. Students enrolled in some programs are allowed to transfer credits earned in related associate degree coursework to four-year bachelor’s degree programs.