Do you really need to complete an electrician pre-apprenticeship program, or can you just approach an employer and ask them to sign you on?
We get this question all the time. Many people believe companies will hire electrician apprentices right off the street—and that getting these jobs is relatively easy.
The reality is quite different. Imagine you’re an employer. Would you hire a random person with little or no knowledge of electrical systems, tools, codes, or safety procedures?
Or, would you prefer to sign on an apprentice who already knows the fundamentals? Someone who has already invested in some training, understands the trade, and has proven himself/herself capable of learning and hard work?
Herzing College Skilled Trades instructor, Steve Dramnitzke, puts it this way:
“If someone signs you on, straight off the street, you won’t get actual in-school training for several years into your apprenticeship. You’re a liability to the employer, and there’s a greater overall cost to them, because you don’t really know what you’re doing.
I’m an employer, and I’m much more willing to hire someone who’s done this training versus a person straight off the street.
Doing pre-apprenticeship training shows employers you are serious about the trade. You’ve already made a commitment to better yourself and learn.
They see that you’re invested in the career. You’ve spent money on tuition, you have the right tools, and you’re going to see it through. This is the true value of quality pre-apprenticeship programs.”
Bottom line? The goal of a good electrician pre-apprenticeship program is to get you hired as an apprentice. In addition to in-class training, you must complete 8160 hours of apprenticeship to qualify for certification as an electrician.
So getting signed on is a top priority. Some companies will put you on a 3-month probation period to verify your skills, before making you an apprentice. Once again, having some basic training will help you pass the probationary period successfully.
Which leads us to the topic of this post: How do you choose a quality electrician pre-apprenticeship program?
Here are a few key features to look for when comparing your training options.
1. Instructors who are licensed electricians with years of professional experience
This is essential. You want to study with licensed electricians who have worked in the trade for years and know exactly what it takes to get hired as an apprentice.
Ideally, the instructor has hired and trained electrician apprentices themselves over the years. They’ve worked in supervisor roles, and in different parts of the electrician trade. They know the industry inside and out and can pass those real-world lessons on to you.
Learning from a true expert means you’ll be better prepared for an actual job site. You will arrive ready for work on day one of your apprenticeship.
When you’re inquiring about electrician pre-apprenticeship programs, be sure to ask about the instructor’s background and years of experience.
2. Good balance of electrical theory and hands-on training
If you’re interested in the skilled trades, you’re probably someone who really enjoys working with your hands. You’re probably not a huge fan of sitting at a desk, memorizing information, taking tests, etc.
However, it’s important to know that theory (classroom learning) is a vital part of a quality electrician pre-apprenticeship program. Students must learn and understand things like:
- How electrical circuits are formed
- How to interpret the Electrical Code
- Mathematics for electricians (basic math, algebra, trigonometry)
- Reading blueprints
- How to estimate project costs and make materials lists
Of course, there is also a strong practical component to electrician training. You will spend a good amount of time in a workshop, practicing hands-on skills like:
- Installing wiring, electrical fixtures and controls
- Basic rough–in of electrical outlet boxes, receptacles and switches
- Conduit bending and wire pulling
- Troubleshooting electrical problems
- Building electrical circuits
- Learning how to use hand and power tools
- Learning how to use safety equipment (ladders, elevated work platforms, etc.)
A good program has the right balance of theory and practical training. You need both to get hired as an electrician apprentice.
Check this out: Should You Become an Electrician? Top Pros & Cons
3. Safety certifications are included in the program
Most employers prefer to hire electrician apprentices who have been trained and certified in work safety.
Remember: the employer is legally liable for everything the apprentice does on a job site. They can’t afford to take any risks.
This is why quality electrician pre-apprenticeship training always includes safety training. Make sure your program comes with (at least) the following certifications:
- Working at Heights
- Elevating Work Platforms
- Lockout & Tag Safety
- Scaffold Users’ Hazard Awareness
- Confined Spaces Hazard Awareness
4. Do graduates get hired?
This is an obvious one. Why would you invest in a program that doesn’t produce hired apprentices?
Make sure you ask each trade school about their “graduate employment rate.” This is the percentage of graduates who actually get hired after completing the electrician pre-apprenticeship program.
Look for rates above 85%. In 2019, our electrician training programs had an average graduate employment rate of 93% (based on most recent available data).
The higher the number, the better! If you don’t see it posted on the website, ask admissions.
5. Good career support services
An electrician school with good graduate employment rates probably has a great career services team.
Career services is in charge of helping students find and apply for electrician apprenticeships. This includes helping you:
- Write a professional resume and cover letter
- Reach out to unions and trades organizations
- Practice what to say on interviews
- Know how to search for apprenticeships online and offline
- Apply for electrician apprenticeships
- Contact industry partners on your behalf, to inquire about apprenticeships
Career support is key, especially if you’re completely new to the skilled trades and don’t have any contacts. You will need guidance to find and apply for good jobs.
Make sure any trade school you choose has a really solid career support team, to help you transition from student to apprentice.
Check out this interview with our own Associate Director of Career Services, to learn how we help students find work: How to Get Hired After Trades Training: Christine’s Top 10 Tips
6. Helpful, non-pushy admissions representatives
When you’re talking with admissions reps at each trade school, you should never feel pressured to enrol. A good trade school tells admissions staff to offer guidance and support—not a big sales pitch.
Admissions is there to answer your questions about electrician training and careers. Their job is to help you figure out if this trade is right for you. That means discussing your interests, goals, background, and natural strengths/weaknesses.
It’s also your opportunity to question them about the program, school, career support, and other points we listed here.
You can ask about class schedules, tuition costs, financial aid options, and where graduates get hired. There’s a lot to talk about! It’s about gathering information so you can make the decision that fits you best.
Education is the most important investment you’ll make. At no point should you feel pushed to enrol before you’re ready.
Bottom line: your experience with admissions tells you a lot about the school in general. Look for helpful, knowledgeable staff who are genuinely interested in helping you succeed.
Explore Herzing’s Electrician Pre-apprenticeship program
Interested in learning more about Herzing’s Electrician Pre-apprenticeship program? Your best bet is to chat with an Admissions Advisor. Find out about program length, costs, class schedules, and how to book an appointment.
Even if you don’t end up choosing Herzing, we’re happy to offer advice and point you in the right direction. Click below to explore the program and chat live now.
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