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Paying for Electrician School and How Much It Costs

By Jennifer Calonia · January 23, 2023 · 6 minute read

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Paying for Electrician School and How Much It Costs

Becoming an electrician can lead to a fulfilling, rewarding, and high-paying career. However, electrician school costs up to $20,000, depending on the program.

Paying tuition costs up front may not be possible. To help manage this hefty electrician trade school price tag, there are a few different program and financing options to consider.

How Much Does Electrician School Typically Cost?

A profession as an electrician is among the list of high-paying, no-degree jobs that can be a lucrative career. If you decide to enroll in electrician trade school to help you along your path to becoming an electrician, it can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 to complete the program. This might depend on the program you enroll in and the school you attend.

How Long Does Electrician School Take?

Community college electrician school programs prepare students for apprenticeship and a future career as an electrician. Typically, it takes one to two years to complete electrician trade school.

What Are Classes Like at Electrician School?

Although each program is different, generally, electrical school guides you through relevant mathematics, standardized electrical code, electrical theory, and fundamental techniques regarding wiring, safety, conduit bending, and other skills.

In addition to in-class knowledge, electrician school often includes hands-on practical application.

Can You Make Money As an Electrician While In School?

It might be challenging to secure paid electrician work, if you’re in the middle of electrician school. However, if you’ve been accepted into an electrical apprenticeship program, and are attending electrical school on the side, the apprenticeship often involves paid, hands-on learning opportunities and possibly health benefits.

Pros and Cons of Electrician School

If you’re unsure whether enrolling in electrician school is worth it, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of going this route.

Pros

Cons

Might be a fast way to get in the door toward an electrical career State might still require an apprenticeship program
Sets you apart when applying for apprenticeship Potentially high-cost and might incur student debt
Might count toward required apprenticeship hours Not an “earn as you learn” option

Financing Electrician School

Although you can choose to pay entirely out of pocket for electrician trade school costs, it’s not always feasible. Fortunately, there are a handful of ways to get your trade education financed — some of which must be repaid while others don’t need to be paid back.

Financial Aid

Future electricians attending an eligible trade school may be able to qualify for federal student aid including grants, scholarships, work-study, or federal student loans. Not all trade or vocational schools qualify for federal aid.

To find out if the program you are considering is eligible, take a look at the Federal School Code Search administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Another option is to check in with the financial aid office at the school.

To apply for federal financial aid, students will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

Grants

Federal grants, like the Pell Grant, are available to students who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree and demonstrate financial need. Pell Grants typically don’t need to be paid back, and offer awards up to $6,895 for the 2022-23 academic year.

Recommended: FAFSA vs. Pell Grants

Scholarships

Scholarships are another type of gift aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. They can be found through your state, local government, school, and nonprofit institutions. For example, the American Public Power Association offers lineworker and technical education scholarship awards of $2,000 to chosen recipients.

Employer Sponsoring

If you’re already employed, and want to enroll in an electrician school to enhance your job-related skills, ask your employer if it’s willing to sponsor your electrician school cost. Some companies offer this benefit as long as you successfully complete the program and agree to apply your training within the company for a certain number of years.

Federal Student Loans

Through the FAFSA, you can see if you’re eligible for subsidized or unsubsidized student loans. This type of aid must be paid back, plus interest at a fixed rate.

Private Student Loans

If the above financing sources aren’t an option and you need funds, private student loans may help pay for electrician trade school costs. Private student loans are offered by banks, credit unions, trade schools, and other financial institutions. Be aware that they typically don’t offer the same level of protections as federal student loans, such as extended forbearance or deferment options if you face financial hardship.

Recommended: Guide to Private Student Loans

How to Select an Electrician Training Program

Deciding how you want to pursue an electrician training program highly depends on the amount of time you’re willing to commit, and your preferred learning style. Below is an overview of the program options available.

Apprenticeship

Learning the electrical trade is commonly done through apprenticeship. This option is typically a four-year commitment with a mix of classroom and field training. This option lets you learn the hands-on skills and knowledge needed to become an electrician while earning a wage.

Certificate

Certification can take about 1 to 2 years to complete. You can enroll in an electrician certification program through a local community college or trade school. In some states, like California, an electrical certification might be required to perform work for contractors with a certain license class.

Associate Degree

An associates degree can offer more comprehensive education, though it’s not typically a requirement to be an electrician. Associate degrees might be offered through a trade school or community college, and can help boost applications for apprenticeship programs.

Bachelor’s Degree

If you’d like to pursue a bachelor’s degree as an electrician in a highly academic setting, a four-year program might make sense for you. Students typically enroll in programs, like electrical technology and learn about regulation, electrical theory, and more.

This option provides the greatest flexibility in terms of transferable courses for related industries, like electrical and/or systems engineering.

Military Training

Another way to obtain electrical school training is through the U.S. Armed Forces. By enlisting as a service member, you’ll first receive basic military training, and afterward, can receive electrical job training if you meet program requirements.

For example, the U.S. Army offers interior electrician job training for soldiers who complete 10 weeks of basic training, and seven weeks of Advanced Individual Training, and earn an ASVAB score of 93 in Electronics.

Electrician Job and Income Prospects

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for electricians from 2021-2031 is expected to grow at an average pace at 7% growth.

PayScale.com estimates that an electrician journeyman earns an average base salary of $61,886 per year, while a master electrician earns a higher salary at $73,334 per year. Salaries, however, depend on a variety of factors, such as skill certifications, years of experience, and location.

Alternatives to Becoming an Electrician

If after learning how much electrician trade school costs you feel it’s not the right profession for you, pursuing another trade or performing a hands-on field job might be of interest. Some alternative jobs include being a:

•   Construction laborer

•   Automotive service technician

•   Equipment operator

•   HVAC installer

•   Home inspector

•   Project manager

The Takeaway

Electrician school costs can range widely, from $1,000 to $20,000, depending on factors like the program, location, and more. Paying for electrician school costs can be an incredible investment for your career advancement and to enhance your technical knowledge, but it’s also a financial commitment.

If you’ve exhausted your financing options, and find that you need additional aid, a private student loan from SoFi might help (though SoFi’s student loans aren’t available for those attending trade school or community college). Undergraduate student loans may be available for those pursuing a four-year electrician degree.

Qualifying borrowers can secure competitive private student loan rates and SoFi loans have zero fees, and up to the total cost of your school’s certified cost of attendance. Plus, it only takes three minutes to check your rate online.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.

FAQ

How long does electrician school take?

An electrician school program can take about four years to complete for an apprentice to acquire the training necessary to become a state-licensed Journeyman electrician who’s able to work unsupervised. However, this time frame varies, depending on the training path you decide to take and the licensing requirements of your state.

How much do the highest paid electricians make?

Master electricians are the highest level in the field and command an average base salary of $82,000 per year, according to PayScale data. Where you’re located and your years of experience impacts your earning potential.

What are the highest paid trade jobs in the U.S.?

A profession as an electrician makes up the top five highest-paid trade jobs in the U.S., along with licensed practical nurses, HVAC technicians, home inspectors, and plumbers.


Photo credit: iStock/Davizro

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