Best Electrical Apprenticeship Programs in Chicago
If you’re considering an electrical apprenticeship in Chicago, you need to find a school that will provide sound training and the leg-up you need to find your first professional electrician job. The top 2 programs are the IBEW 134 apprenticeship from EJATT (Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Trust) and the non-union apprenticeship Chicago from the Illinois chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.
So what are the advantages of these programs? Let’s take a look.
The IBEW Illinois apprenticeship comes from the IBEW-NECA technical institute. As it works with IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), it’s a union program. This means that training is coordinated by the union and will be comprehensive rather than potentially targeted at a niche area.
You can undertake either a 5-year electrical construction program or a 4-year telecommunications program. Classroom studies tend to take up only 3 months of the year, with the rest of your education being provided in the field. Both courses focus heavily on learning on the job: possible “classrooms” include locations like O’Hare airport or a solar panel field.
The course also offers the opportunity to earn money while studying, which is an attractive prospect.
As a union course, the IBEW Illinois apprenticeship has incredible industry links, and finding a high-paying job with good benefits after graduation is likely. An advantage of union courses is that you have almost unmatched networking prospects and the union can leverage higher wages for its contractors.
This non-union apprenticeship in Chicago provides in-depth training and education across the board, with many opportunities for specialization.
The program offered by the Illinois Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors is divided into 4 levels:
- Level 1: heavily focused on electrical theory and applications of the profession
- Level 2: more technical, covering areas like alternating current and motors
- Level 3: requires stronger mathematical skills and provides a deeper understanding of electrical practices
- Level 4: advances your knowledge and teaches you to apply it in practical areas
This course is provided by a very influential trade association and offers excellent graduate prospects. The non-union route can provide more freedom to specialize and choose your clients once you graduate.
Choosing whether to go with the union or not is often a difficult decision. The former tends to provide greater wage security while the latter can offer more freedom. For this reason, planning what you want your career path to look like before choosing a school is the best place to start.