Electrician Schools and Training in Virginia
Hello, Virginians! Welcome to the Electrician Careers Guide. We've got everything you need to start a high-paying career as an electrician in Virginia, including data about salaries, a full list of electrician schools in Virginia, and apprenticeships that can help you get your license. If you're ready to learn everything you need to get started, you're in the right spot.
How To Become An Electrician In Virginia
Beginning a career as an electrician can be a little complicated. There are plenty of different options getting started, and people aren't always sure about the choices they have. Here's how it breaks down:
- You can attend an electrical school or electrical training program. Community colleges have training programs, and tech schools have them as well.
- You can become an apprentice. There are union programs and non-union programs, and they provide great training.
Here are some more details about each option, followed by some advice about what you should choose.
Electrician Training At Community Colleges and Tech Schools
There are a number of excellent electrician schools in Virginia, and community colleges and technical schools offer first-rate training. Enrollees are able to develop their skills in a controlled---and safe---laboratory environment. Students are taught how to:
- Read blueprints, and draft blueprints for other electricians and trades workers to use;
- Wire different electrical systems, including the systems found in private homes, public office buildings, and industrial centers and factories;
- Check electrical systems that have been installed by others, to see that they've been properly maintained and are "up to code";
- Use measurement devices such as oscilloscopes, ohmmeters, and voltmeters to gauge how much electricity is running through a circuit; and
- Understand electrical theory and how to work safely with electricity.
There's a lot else you'll learn, but that gives you an idea of what the coursework will be like.
The benefits of an education are that you'll have solid training, you'll be a commodity on the job market (local economy depending!), and you'll earn more than unskilled laborers entering the field. The negatives are that schoolin' ain't free, and many students need to take out student loans.
This model of learning is very, very old---the word "apprentice" may make you think of medieval masons or stone workers---but the tradition has hung around because it works very well.
An apprenticeship combines on-the-job training with one-on-one instruction. Participants are paired with an experienced electrician who knows the trade inside and out, and they travel with the experienced electrician to each of the jobs he or she goes to. Participants are given small jobs, at first, and then graduate to bigger responsibilities once they gain understanding. There is some classroom work involved, but the majority of learning is done on the job (OTJ).
The great thing about the program is that participants in the program are paid for every hour they work, and their hours usually count towards state licensure. The downside is that openings are scarce, and the waiting list can range from a few months to a few years. Also, many positions are given to people who have some education or experience, so it can be difficult to get into a program when you're "green."
What Career Path Should I Choose?
It's always best to know what your options are. We recommend calling your local apprenticeship programs to get a feel for if they're accepting candidates, and checking out the electrician schools in your area, to see if they have an electrician training course you can benefit from. When you've figured out what your choices are, it'll be a little easier to make a decision.
Virginia Electrician Salary
If you decide to enter the trades and start a career as an electrician, what kind of a salary can you make? We checked the statistics released by the federal government, which said the following:
|Virginia||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage|
|All Occupations in VA||$24.40||$50,750|
As the chart shows, licensed electricians are among the highest-paid trades workers in Virginia. They earn $1,380 more than HVAC workers, $2,980 more than plumbers, $7,470 more than carpenters, and $18,860 more than construction workers (that large difference in salary between electricians and construction workers is most likely because electricians spent a lot more time getting trained than construction workers do).
The Virginia electrician salary is a little bit less than the average salary for all occupations, but keep in mind that that measurement ("all occupations") includes CEOs, lawyers, doctors, and so on, so they might be bringing that number up a bit. Also remember that the figures above are averages---some electricians are able to make money in a year, and some make less.
Virginia Electrical Schools
The list below charts all of the electrical schools in Virginia, as well as all the apprenticeship opportunities in the state.
Check if any are near you, and then give a call and see if it's a good fit.
Virginia Highlands Community College
100 VHCC Drive
Abingdon, VA 24210
Mountain Empire Community College
3441 Mountain Empire Road
Big Stone Gap, VA 24219
John Tyler Community College
13101 Jefferson Davis Highway
Chester, Virginia 23831-5316
Dabney S. Lancaster Community College — Clifton Forge Campus
1000 Dabney Drive
Clifton Forge, VA 24422
1008 South Main
New River Community
5251 College Drive
Tidewater Community College — Chesapeake Campus
1428 Cedar Road
Chesapeake, VA 23322
Southside Virginia Community College
1300 Greensville County Circle
Emporia, VA 23847
Paul D. Camp Community (PDCCC) — Franklin Campus
100 North College Drive
Franklin, VA 23851
Eastern Shore Community College
29300 Lankford Highway
Melfa, VA 23410
Lord Fairfax Community — Middletown Campus
Paul D. Camp Community — Smithfield Campus
253 James Street
Smithfield, VA 23430
Northern VA Community
(Multiple Locations in Northern Virginia)
6699 Springfield Center Drive
Springfield, VA 22150
Paul D. Camp Community — Hobbs Suffolk Campus
Blue Ridge Community College
One College Lane
Weyers Cave, VA 24486
Wytheville Community College – Main Campus
1000 East Main Street
Wytheville, VA 24382
Union Apprenticeship Programs in Virginia
JATC of Richmond Electricians
11255 Air Park Road
Ashland, VA 23005
Training at Tidewater Electrical
828 Providence Road
Chesapeake, VA 23325
JATC of Hampton Roads
553 Industrial Park Drive
Newport News, VA 23608
Independent Electrical Contractors (“IEC”) Apprenticeships in Virginia (Non-Union)
8751 Freestate Drive
Laurel, MD 20723
ABC Apprenticeships in Virginia (Non-Union)
A non-union organization called The Associated Builders and Contractors ("ABC") also offers apprenticeships in Virginia. They have three locations:
- Dulles, VA; phone number: (703) 968-6205
- Richmond, VA; phone number: (804) 346-4222
- Norfolk, VA; phone number: (757) 855-8220
You can also visit their website.