Electrician trade schools combine theory and practice. In most programs, students study principles of electricity and learn how to read and interpret the National Electrical Code. Lab sessions introduce students to basic methods of installation. More advanced courses cover cable installation, wire pulling, and magnetic motor controls.
The best electrician trade schools are affordable, reputable, and offer flexible study options for working professionals. Many programs prepare students for apprenticeships, licensing, and certification exams.
Best Electrician Trade Schools of 2021
- Best Overall: Alfred State College
- Best Value: Central New Mexico Community College
- Best In-Person Program: Coyne College
- Best Online School: Penn Foster College
- Best for Certification: Washburn University
- Best for Apprenticeships: Electrical Training Alliance
- Best Vocational Training Program: Northwest Lineman College
Best Overall : Alfred State College
- Cost of Tuition: $7,070 per year + fees (full-time), $295 per credit + prorated fees (part-time)
- Format: In-person classes, labs, and worksite training
- Certification: No
Alfred State College's Electrical Construction and Maintenance Electrician program prepares students to work in a variety of jobs anywhere in the country, earning it our top spot overall.
Provides both broad and specialized training
Study options for working professionals
Advanced entry into IBEW apprenticeship program
Only offers AS degree
Two years to complete program
Alfred State College's Electrical Construction and Maintenance Electrician program covers the basics of residential electricity while also offering specialized training in renewable energy systems, programmable logic controllers, fire alarms, and magnetic motor controls. Students spend at least 50% of their time engaged in hands-on training.
The program takes two years to complete, and graduates earn an associate of science (AS) degree. Students complete 18 credits of coursework per semester over the course of four semesters. Classes are offered on campus. Working professionals who cannot attend on-campus classes during work hours can earn the degree by taking morning or evening classes at the Northland Workforce Training Center in Buffalo, New York.
Tuition for the Electrical Construction and Maintenance Electrician program costs $7,070 per year plus $1,792 in fees for full-time students or $295 per credit plus prorated fees for part-time students. The program offers summer internships through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and other trade groups. Program graduates can also gain advanced placement in several IBEW locals' apprenticeship programs.
Best Value : Central New Mexico Community College
By enrolling in the Electrical Trades certificate program at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), you can cut down on the amount of work experience you need to earn your journeyman license, making the program a great value.
Counts toward apprenticeship
Many different certificate and degree options
Some programs take five semesters to complete
CNM offers two associate of applied science (AAS) degrees and five certificates through its Electrical Trades program. In New Mexico, electricians working toward the journeyman license must complete four years of on-the-job training. However, by earning your electrical trades certificate at CNM, you can cut your apprenticeship time in half because the state counts the certificate as two years of work experience.
CNM's certificate programs take one to four terms to complete. Students enrolled in the Electrical Trades certificate program sign up for 42 credits of coursework over three 15-week terms. However, individuals can earn the 13-credit Solar Electric (PV) certificate in one semester. Tuition costs $684 per term (12 to 18 credits), and four of the five certificate programs are eligible for financial aid.
Students pursuing their AAS degree can choose to concentrate in either photovoltaics or programmable logic controls. Both AAS programs require 70 credits of coursework and take five semesters to complete. Courses offered within the Electrical Trades program cover electrical circuitry, AC/DC motor operation, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance.
Best In-Person Program : Coyne College
- Cost of Tuition: $16,170 + fees (diploma), $30,030 + fees (AAS degree)
- Format: In-person classes and labs
- Certification: No
We chose Coyne College as the best in-person electrician trade school because of its reputation, job placement services, and small class sizes.
Small class sizes
Job placement and career assistance
Only one diploma and one AS degree option
Coyne College was founded in 1899 as the Coyne Electrical School of Chicago. Today, it boasts six trade programs, two of which focus on electrical construction. Coyne College enjoys a 120-year reputation as one of the nation's premier electrician trade schools.
Future electricians can enroll in either the Electrical Construction and Planning associate degree program or the Electrical Construction and Maintenance diploma program. The associate degree program consists of 91 credits of coursework and can be completed in 78 weeks. The diploma program requires 49 credits and can be completed in 42 weeks.
Coyne's classes are in-person, and students can choose to attend either day or evening classes. Courses cover electrical principles, electrical theory and applications, and electrical test equipment and safety. Both programs' curricula include classroom instruction and hands-on training.
In 2018, 555 students were enrolled at Coyne College across its six programs. Because the student body is small, individuals enrolled at Coyne can expect individualized attention from faculty and staff. Coyne College's Career Services office also helps students craft their resumes and find and apply for jobs.
Coyne College's tuition isn't cheap. During the 2018-2019 academic year, students enrolled in the Electrical Construction and Planning program paid $30,030, not including fees. Those enrolled in the Electrical Construction and Maintenance diploma program paid $16,170, plus additional fees.
Best Online School : Penn Foster College
- Cost of Tuition: $699 (paid in full), $849 (monthly auto-pay)
- Format: Online classes and exercises
- Certification: No
Penn Foster College's Residential Electrician program lets students apply their skills in virtual wiring scenarios, making it our choice for the best online electrician trade school.
Complete coursework on a mobile device
Residential electrician focus only
No financial aid
In a recent roundup of the best online trade schools, Penn Foster College came out on top. The private, for-profit college is headquartered in Scranton, Pennsylvania. However, Penn Foster College doesn't have a physical campus. It offers all its degree, diploma, and certificate programs entirely online.
Penn Foster College does not accept federal or state financial aid. However, the college's tuition prices are lower than many brick-and-mortar trade schools. Tuition for the Residential Electrician program is $699 if you pay in full when you begin your studies. The school also lets students pay in monthly installments, increasing tuition to $849. Thanks to the G.I. Bill and other federal programs, current and former service members may be eligible for tuition remission.
Penn Foster College offers classes asynchronously, meaning students don't need to log in at set times. Students can complete coursework from their mobile devices and reach faculty through text, phone, and email.
If you choose to enroll in Penn Foster College's Residential Electrician program, you'll learn about safety procedures, telecommunications wiring, electronic security, and the National Electric Code. Coursework includes online simulations of real-world wiring scenarios. During these sessions, students complete virtual wiring and troubleshooting tasks from a computer or mobile device.
Best for Certification : Washburn University
- Cost of Tuition: $2,800 (college students), $131 (high school students)
- Format: In-person classes and labs
- Certification: Yes
At Washburn University (WU), students enrolled in the Electrical Technology program can earn up to four certifications.
Tuition mostly covered for high school students
Opportunity to earn four certifications
Takes one year to complete
Program only offered twice a year
WU's Electrical Technology program is open to both high school students and individuals with either a high school diploma or GED. Graduates of the program earn a 30 credit-hour certificate and may be eligible to enter an apprenticeship program through a union local at an advanced level.
Washburn stands out for its affordability. Postsecondary students pay $2,800 to complete the program, not including the cost of books and tools. However, high school students can earn their certificates for just $131 plus the cost of tools and books. That's because, through Kansas' Excel in Career Technical Education initiative, the state pays high school students' tuition when they enroll in approved community college technical courses.
Tuition includes the cost of two certification courses: the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) electricity level I course and the OSHA-30 course. Students can also earn the NCCER core certification and the NCCER field safety certification. Few other programs offer students as many opportunities to prepare for certification exams.
The Electrical Technology program takes one year to complete, and students can choose to attend classes in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings. Courses include introductory craft skills, AC/DC circuits I and II, and National Electric Code I and II.
Best for Apprenticeships : Electrical Training Alliance
- Cost of Tuition: None
- Format: In-person and online classes and on-the-job training
- Certification: Yes
The Electrical Training Alliance (ETA) oversees online and classroom courses for electricians enrolled in apprenticeship programs through IBEW locals. The benefits of completing an apprenticeship with a union shop make it our choice as the best training program for apprentices.
Offers higher pay than open shop apprenticeships
Lifelong union membership
Harder to get into than open-shop apprenticeships
In most states, individuals must complete an apprenticeship program and pass a state exam to become licensed electricians. Apprenticeships typically last four to five years and include both on-the-job training and coursework.
Non-union trade organizations, such as Independent Electrical Contractors, also offer apprenticeship programs. Both open shop and union apprenticeships cover the cost of attending classes. During your apprenticeship, you'll be paid for the work you do. However, you'll earn less than licensed electricians.
An apprenticeship program with the IBEW includes hands-on job experience and classroom training. The ETA offers courses online and at Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee offices across the country. The ETA oversees outside lineman, inside wireman, installer technician, and residential wireman apprenticeship programs.
As a member of the IBEW, you'll enjoy greater job stability than most open-shop employees. Union members also typically earn higher wages. However, you will also be required to pay union dues.
IBEW apprenticeship programs are competitive, so they can be hard to get into. To qualify, applicants must take a standardized test and attend an in-person interview. Those who perform well on both are admitted into programs at local IBEW chapters on a rolling basis.
Best Vocational Training Program : Northwest Lineman College
- Cost of Tuition: $15,000 to $16,500 (plus $850 lab fee)
- Format: In-person, online, in-person labs
- Certification: Yes
Northwest Lineman College (NLC) provides specialized training for electrical lineworkers. The college's reputation and high employment rate among graduates earned it our spot for the best vocational training program.
Specializes in lineman training
Campuses in four states
Additional fees for labs, licensing, and tools
No job placement services
All electrician trade schools offer vocational training. However, graduates of some schools may need additional training before they can enter the workforce. In contrast, Northwest Lineman College (NLC) provides specialized vocational training for linemen who are career-ready upon graduation.
NLC's Electrical Lineworker program takes 15 weeks to complete. The college uses a hybrid model, offering its courses both online and in-person. Students learn the theoretical foundations of electricity and wiring and apply their knowledge during hands-on lab exercises. Coursework also covers professionalism and career preparation.
NLC has campuses in four states: Idaho, California, Texas, and Florida. Tuition costs $15,000 to $16,500, depending on the campus. Students also pay an $850 lab fee and additional fees for tools and licensing. However, active military and veterans may be eligible for tuition remission. At NLC, one out of every five students is a veteran.
The Electrical Lineworker program prepares students to install and maintain high voltage power lines and use heavy equipment, such as cranes, boom trucks, and digger derricks. Students earn certifications in climbing, pole-top rescue, aerial-lift rescue, and several others. Based on data from the 2017-2018 academic year, 80% of NLC graduates secured employment in their field.
Some electrician training programs stand out for their affordability, while others are notable for the variety of certificates, diplomas, and degrees they offer. Some of the schools on our list work with the U.S. government to provide benefits to service members. While each of the schools we included excels in a different area, Alfred State College offers the best electrician training program overall.
Alfred State College's Electrical Construction and Maintenance Electrician program provides both foundational and specialized training in electrical technology. Graduates are qualified for many different positions in the field, both in New York and across the U.S. Students spend at least 50% of their time engaged in hands-on training and can gain advanced placement in one of the IBEW's competitive apprenticeship programs.
Compare the Best Electrician Trade Schools
|Alfred State College
|In-person classes, labs, and worksite training||$7,070 per year (full-time), $295 per credit (part-time)||Two years||AS degree||36 credits|
|Central New Mexico Community College
|In-person classes and labs||$684 per semester (12 to 18 credits)||15–75 weeks||5 certificates and 2 AAS degrees||13–70 credits|
Best In-Person Program
|In-person classes and labs||$16,170 for diploma, $30,030 for AS degree||42–78 weeks||Diploma and AAS degree||49–91 credits|
|Penn Foster College
Best Online School
|Online classes and exercises||$699 if paid in full; $849 with monthly auto-pay||7 months||Career diploma||10 courses|
Best for Certification
|In-person classes and labs||$2,800 (college students), $131 (high school students)||1 year part-time||Technical certificate; 4 certifications||30 credits|
Best for Apprenticeships
|In-person and online classes and on-the-job training||$0||Approx. 4 years||Partial fulfillment of licensing requirements;5 certifications||576–1,000 hours of classroom instruction, 8,000–10,000 hours of on-the-job experience|
|Northwest Lineman College
Best Vocational Training Program
|In-person and online classes and labs||$15,00–$1650, $850 lab fee||15 weeks||9 certifications and 2 optional certifications||480 credit hours|
How to Choose the Best Electrician Trade School
There are many factors to consider when choosing an electrician trade school or training program. These include:
- Cost: Consider the cost of tuition and whether the programs that interest you fit your budget.
- Length of program: Some certificate programs take only 15 weeks to finish. In contrast, degree programs and apprenticeships can take several years to complete. Before choosing a program, decide how long you can commit to your studies.
- Location: Licensing requirements vary by state, so when choosing a program, make sure it provides the level of instruction you need to meet your career goals.
- Certifications: Some programs allow students to earn OSHA, NCCER, and other certifications. If you're interested in earning certifications, talk to an admissions counselor to see if their program offers certification courses.
- Format: Some electrician training programs only offer courses on-campus while others only administer classes online. Some schools provide students with a mix of both. When choosing a training program, consider which format will work best for you.
- Specializations: Electricians work as outside linemen, inside wiremen, installer technicians, and residential wiremen. If you know what you want to specialize in, choose a program that provides training in that area.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is It Worth It to Attend Electrician Trade School?
If you want to learn a skilled trade that's in high demand, enrolling in an electrician training program can be a good place to start. In most states, you will need to complete an apprenticeship program to become a licensed electrician. By enrolling in a trade school, you can gain the knowledge and skills you need to qualify for an apprenticeship and advance your career.
What Prior Education Is Needed to Attend an Electrician Trade School?
To enroll in an electrician trade school, you may need a high school diploma or GED. However, this isn't required for all programs. Many programs do not require prior technical training. To join an IBEW apprenticeship, you must earn your high school diploma or GED and pass a high school or post-high school algebra course. A high school diploma or GED may not be required to join an open-shop apprenticeship.
What Is the Duration of a Typical Electrician Trade School Program?
Some of the certificate programs on our list can be completed in 15 weeks. Some trade schools and technical colleges offer associate degrees, which usually take two years to complete. Most states require electricians to enroll in apprenticeship programs to obtain licenses. Apprenticeship programs typically last at least four years.
We reviewed nearly two dozen electrician trade schools to find the best program in each of the above categories. We considered technical colleges, vocational schools, and community colleges offering electrician trade programs.
In developing our list, we compared the cost, reputation, and duration of each program. We chose electrician training programs with low student-to-faculty ratios, high graduation rates, and special benefits, such as tuition remission for high school students or members of the U.S. military. All of the schools we included are independently accredited.