Electrical work can be an extremely rewarding career choice. It’s an industry that is constantly evolving, and there are always new challenges to answer and specialties to pursue. But the path has to start somewhere, and many folks choose to start their careers at one of the best online electrician schools.
Choosing the best online electrician courses isn’t always so straightforward. Between catchy marketing and various accreditations, the choices can be overwhelming. This guide will help by explaining some of the most important considerations as well as highlighting some of the best schools to attend.
- BEST OVERALL: Penn Foster Career School
- RUNNER-UP: Ashworth College
- BEST CONTINUING EDUCATION: Mike Holt Enterprises
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Online Electrician School for You
The best electrician schools online can provide an excellent foundation for a fulfilling career, but there are some points to consider. One very important consideration: Earning a career certificate from an online electrician school can be a foot in the door for an apprenticeship, but it does not guarantee a job. Nor does it allow graduates to immediately perform electrical work. They’ll still need to learn the trade through an apprenticeship and pass state-mandated testing to become an electrician.
Some of the best trade schools for electricians will advertise that their courses align with National Electrical Code (NEC) guidelines. This is certainly something to look for, but it’s not the all-encompassing governing codebook it sounds like. Although it’s an important and legitimate resource, the name’s use in marketing materials can be a bit misleading.
Despite having the word “national” in its name, the NEC is not federal law or a universally adapted book of codes. Instead, it is a set of best practices that electricians should follow. Individual jurisdictions may adopt it as a governing codebook, but it is not mandated by federal law.
When budding electrical professionals attend and graduate from an online school, they’ll receive a career certificate. This certificate indicates that graduates successfully completed the school’s coursework. It does not mark graduates as full-fledged professional electricians—they’ll need a license for that.
To become a professional electrician, one must complete an apprenticeship program where they learn the trade from an experienced journeyman or master electrician. They must then take tests to prove their aptitude before receiving their license. Only then can they strap on one of the best electrician’s tool belts and work on their own. A career certificate can assist a prospective electrician in securing an apprenticeship, however, and may provide a helpful foundation when it comes time for testing.
Many states require electricians to obtain a certain amount of work experience or a combination of work hours and college education to achieve a license. Before an apprentice chooses a route to take, they should check their state’s regulations to determine if an online career college will meet the criteria.
In some cases, courses offered by accredited colleges will meet these state requirements, and this can be a leg up in the apprenticeship process. However, courses offered by individual training programs and businesses most likely will not be accepted by state regulators. Although there may not be any college credits involved, these classes are often taught by lifelong electrical professionals, so they can still be a valuable resource.
Course Length, Structure, and Curriculum
One of the greatest values that online coursework offers is a flexible, self-paced schedule. For some, this makes the online route the best trade school for electricians. Since most of the classes are prerecorded and exam dates are flexible, there’s less pressure than one might experience in a typical classroom setting.
These courses are usually self-paced, but most have a deadline by which the student must complete them. This is usually between 1 and 2 years from the course’s start date. Over that length of time, the classes will be broken up into smaller sections with individual reviews, quizzes, and tests.
For many folks starting out in the trades, the amount of money they have to invest can be prohibitive. For this reason, it’s important to find a school that meets an individual’s budget or allows for flexible payments. Many schools allow students to apply for an installment plan. They can split up the tuition over several months or a year or two, helping minimize the barrier to entry.
When choosing a school for an electrical foundation, note that not all schools are accredited. A search online will reveal hundreds of courses in electrical work. Although they may be good sources of information, there aren’t any governing bodies ensuring the information is worth learning. It’s a buyer-beware scenario that may or may not pay off.
However, some online electrical schools are accredited. These schools are typically certified by the DEAC (Distance Education Accrediting Commission) or the IACET (International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training). Note that these accrediting bodies certify that the school meets their standards, but they do not guarantee individual course quality.
Investing in an online school for electrical work can be a tough decision for folks who are on the fence. Fortunately, many schools offer a money-back guarantee. These guarantees are typically good for a few days after the course starts, allowing students to get their feet wet and decide if the school is a good fit for them.
This is rarely the case for individual classes purchased piecemeal or courses offered by individuals. However, there is typically a lower price for each individual course, and students can choose whether or not they’d like to purchase another, lessening the level of commitment.
Our Top Picks
Below are some of the best electrician trade schools available online. Be sure to keep the most important considerations in mind when comparing these schools. A smart choice here may help a student to become the best electrician they can be.
Why It Made the Cut: Penn Foster Career School boasts several accreditations as well as flexible payment options and interactive learning materials.
When it comes to comprehensiveness, Penn Foster Career School’s Online Electrician School is at the top of the heap. Penn Foster’s specialization in distance learning stretches back to the 1890s. This history earned the school accreditations from the DEAC, IACET, and Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA-CESS) over time, making it one of the best trade schools for electricians online.
The Penn Foster Online Electrician School is an 11- to 15-month course that students can take at their own pace. It includes interactive study guides, video lessons and lectures, and animations to make information easily digestible. Note that this course does not meet the education requirements for the following states: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Vermont. The coursework focuses on residential electrical work, and students can also choose to pursue a high school diploma simultaneously.
Penn Foster’s Online Electrician School’s tuition costs $1,089, but there are often $100 to $300 discounts available. Also, there are three methods for payment: full payment, monthly auto-pay, and monthly mail-in pay. Should the student decide that this course isn’t a good fit, they’ll have 6 days from the course start to get their money back.
- Certification earned: Residential electrician career diploma
- Course length: 11 to 15 months
- Price: $1,089
- School accreditation: DEAC, IACET, MSA-CESS
- Money-back guarantee: Within 6 days of course start
- Comprehensive, interactive learning materials
- Option to simultaneously pursue electrician career path and high school diploma
- Three flexible tuition payment options
- Accredited by the DEAC, IACET, and MSA-CESS
- Course does not meet education requirements of 10 states
Why It Made the Cut: Ashworth College’s focus on residential and commercial electrical work, as well as providing graduates continued access to valuable educational resources to valuable educational resources, is a solid option for students looking for electrical education.
Ashworth College’s Electrician Training Course has a relatively short yet flexible completion window of 4 to 12 months, so students can earn their career diplomas and begin applying for apprenticeships quickly. Also, since Ashworth is DEAC accredited and this course is recognized in all states but California and New Jersey, students are sure to get real, applicable value. This electrician training program differs from other courses in that it focuses on both commercial and residential procedures, whereas other courses may only focus on one. Coursework includes following practices outlined by the NEC as well.
Beyond the actual electrical training, Ashworth College graduates will receive continued access to the school’s Central Network. This is an online tool kit to assist with resumes, cover letters, and other career-seeking resources. Also, graduates will retain access to ProQuest, an online database of scholarly articles and journals. Do note that despite the school’s ongoing educational and career support, some students report customer support to be lacking. Tuition to this online electrician career school is $999, and as with some other online schools, there are often discounts available. The student has the choice of paying for the entire course up front or carrying a monthly payment plan. Should they choose not to pursue the diploma after signing up, they have 5 days from course start to get their money back.
- Certification earned: Electrician career diploma
- Course length: 4 to 12 months
- Price: $999
- School accreditation: DEAC
- Money-back guarantee: Within 5 days of course start
- Residential and commercial electrical procedures included in curriculum
- Continued access to Ashworth College Central Network after course completion
- ProQuest digital access included in tuition
- Reports of customer support being difficult to communicate with
Why It Made the Cut: The wide variety of available courses makes Mike Holt Enterprises a valuable resource for continuing education.
Apprentices and licensed electricians often have to complete a certain amount of continuing education credits or hours, and Mike Holt Enterprises is one of the best resources. This online school offers a wide variety of courses including NEC changes, wiring methods, basic motor controls, and even business skills for contractors.
Mike Holt Enterprises isn’t an online college, so accreditations aren’t readily available. However, the school does have an interactive map that details the courses each state recognizes. The student can then choose individual courses to meet their continuing education requirements. For some states, Mike Holt Enterprises offers prep classes for journeyman, master electrician, and electrical inspector exams, helping further one’s career path. While money-back guarantees aren’t readily available, each course is relatively affordable. With most courses costing around $90, the student can try one class and choose whether or not to continue with other courses without making an expensive commitment.
- Certification earned: Varies by course
- Course length: Varies by course
- Price: Varies by course
- School accreditation: Not specified
- Money-back guarantee: Not specified
- Wide selection of continuing education courses
- Convenient search function for state-approved courses
- Preparation classes for journeyman, master electrician, and electrical inspector exams
- Accreditation information is not readily available
- Money-back guarantee information is not readily available
Penn Foster Career School Online Electrician School’s wide accreditation, flexible payment plans, and long-standing experience in distance learning make it an excellent choice for prospective students. Ashworth College is another fine choice for students searching for an entryway into the electrician trade.
How We Chose the Best Online Electrician Schools
Choosing the best online electrician schools was a challenge. We had to draw on our own experiences in both education and the trades to choose the important criteria each school needed to meet to make our list. First, we compiled a list of schools that appeared to meet our criteria. Then, we sorted through the courses, the accreditations, and state recognition before removing courses that didn’t meet our standards. Next, we took a look at tuition costs to ensure that each school we suggested offered enough value to make the list. At that point, we assigned awards based on each course’s strengths and weaknesses.
Before You Choose the Best Online Electrician School for You
There are a few additional items worth thinking about before deciding on the best electrician school. First, consider the commitment: With families, careers, and personal obligations to think of, students need to be sure that a school’s course timeline works for their lifestyle.
Also, note that a career diploma is not equivalent to a license, and graduates aren’t necessarily allowed to start performing electrical work on their own. In most cases, graduates will still need to complete state-mandated apprenticeship programs before they can apply for licensing.
Finally, understand that online learning isn’t for everyone. Folks who need more structure than others, or those who might learn better in person, might find online coursework to be a waste of money. For those folks, applying for apprenticeships or attending the best trade school for electricians might be a better bet. To find one, perform an online search for terms like “best electrician schools near me.”
Cost of Attending the Best Online Electrician School for You
The best online electrician courses typically cost anywhere between $500 and $1,500, with the average being closer to $1,000. For this tuition, students will have access to online lessons and lectures, study guides, tests, and possibly career-seeking resources.
For many folks looking for the best way to become an electrician, that amount of money can be a significant barrier to entry. Many online schools offer flexible payment plans specifically for this reason. Monthly payments can make a significant difference, allowing the student to take a course they might not otherwise be able to afford. Prospective students should perform a bit of research or contact their chosen school before writing off a course because of its cost.
The Advantages of Attending the Best Online Electrician School for You
Life is busy, and the best online electrician schools offer coursework that students can adapt to their lives. Rather than attending a school for 8 hours a day, students can continue to care for their families or work full-time while pursuing their diplomas during free time—whatever that might look like for them.
Also, there’s a low level of commitment when it comes to online electrical training. Students can maintain their current professions and simply test the waters to find out if electrical work or the course is a good fit.
For students who find online coursework isn’t a great fit for them, many schools offer money-back guarantees. The windows for these guarantees are small, but they do provide some peace of mind for hesitant applicants.
- The best online electrician schools offer flexible schedules that can work around family, personal, and professional lives.
- Students can test the waters without a high degree of commitment or leaving their current jobs.
- If students find the school is not a great fit, many schools offer money-back guarantees.
That’s a lot of information on choosing the best online electrician school, but some folks may still have questions. The following are some of the most common questions on the topic as well as the answers.
Q. Can I work as an electrician without a license?
This depends on each individual jurisdiction, and DIYers should check with their local electrical or fire inspector to find out. In some cases, a homeowner may take a test to prove proficiency, allowing them to work on their own homes. Otherwise, they’ll have to hire an electrician, and a simple online search for “the best electricians near me” may help.
Q. How long does it take to become an electrician?
Apprentices typically must perform 4 to 5 years of work under a licensed journeyman electrician. At that point, they may take the exam for licensing.
Q. Can I take an electrician course online?
There are lots of electrician courses available online. None will result in a license to perform electrical work, but they can provide an excellent foundation in the trade.
Q. How long does online electrician school last?
Online electrician school typically lasts between 6 and 24 months, depending on the coursework, school, and specialty.
Q. Do I pay in advance for an online electrician school?
Many schools offer payment plans for students, though there may be discounted rates for those who pay the total cost up front.
Q. Do I get a license after I complete online electrician school?
Online electrician school graduates do not receive licenses upon course completion. Instead, they receive career diplomas or certificates that certify them as graduates of that particular school’s course. This can be a big help in landing an apprenticeship.
Q. Do online electrician schools require any prerequisite knowledge?
No, students can take courses without any prior knowledge of electrical materials, tools, or techniques, and educational requirements are relatively low. Some schools will even offer simultaneous trade and high school diploma courses. However, do note that most states do require apprentices and journeymen to hold at least a GED in addition to completing a certain number of work hours.
Q. Are there any entry exams for online electrician school?
No, entry exams are not typical for online electrician schools.