Study to Be an Electrician at the Center for Employment Training

Some of us were just not made to sit in an office for 40 hours each week. As an electrician, you’ll be providing an essential service, planning, installing and repairing the systems that do everything from keeping our lights on to powering precision manufacturing equipment. It’s a challenging job that requires physical stamina and mental acumen, and in the state of California electricians need to complete a rigorous educational and training process in order to work legally. A good place to begin your training is at the Center for Employment Training in San Jose.

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Requirements for Becoming an Electrician in California

The state of California licenses and regulates electricians at every stage of their careers. You start as a trainee by enrolling in a state-approved training program (like CET). To move to the level of journeyman, you’ll need to complete about 140 hours of coursework annually for several years, and spend many hours working under the supervision of experienced electricians. You’ll also need to pass a tough exam. The state website for electricians explains the process in detail.

The Electrician Program at the Center for Employment Training

Offered in San Jose and Soledad, the electrician program is a daytime program that takes 900 hours to complete, and is generally completed in eight or nine months. The program takes place during the hours of 8am to 3pm, Monday through Friday.

With classroom and hands-on laboratory work, you will learn a variety of skills and techniques including:

  • Wiring and installation methods for commercial and residential properties
  • Essential safety skills for the job
  • The math and physics that makes electricity work
  • Computer skills for electricians
  • Job preparedness skills

Assessments and Milestones in The Program

You’ll be periodically evaluated on what you learn in the electrician program, whether it’s through traditional quizzes and tests or through performance evaluation in a practical or laboratory setting. CET does not allow for open-book examinations or the use of computers or mobile phones during testing, so you’ll need to thoroughly study and practice new knowledge and skills.

Tuition Costs

This tuition calculation tool from CET can help you determine an estimate of what it will cost you, in total, to complete the electrician program. You can tell the tool the location of the program you wish to take, whether you’re living on your own or with parents, and whether you plan to apply for financial aid.

If you don’t plan to apply for financial aid, programs at the San Jose campus would cost about $31,000 per year, but that includes an estimate of your living costs such as rent, transportation, food, healthcare and utilities. It also includes the cost of tuition, books, tools, uniforms and supplies. It’s important to remember that 60 percent of students at CET apply for—and receive—financial aid, which can include federal and state loans, federal and state grants, and military, vocational or disability-based scholarships. Work-study programs, where you have the chance to earn money while you are enrolled are also available. To determine your eligibility for financial aid, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form.

Another benefit of the programs at CET is that they’re career-focused. You won’t need to be enrolled for four years, studying lots of prerequisites to graduate—you’ll be out well before that, earning a decent wage as an entry-level electrician.

Admission Requirements and Process

You don’t need to have your high school or general equivalency diploma to get into CET, and there are no grade point average requirements. CET has a basic skills course to get you up to where you need to be to enroll in the electrician—or any other—program. Here’s the process:

  1. Email or phone CET to schedule an appointment.
  2. Meet with an advisor to determine which program at which location works best for you.
  3. Discuss financial aid with the finance advisor (to get the most out of this appointment, please bring proof of income such as income taxes or W2 forms, ID, social security card, high school diploma or GED certificate, and residency card if relevant).
  4. Review program details with the adviser such as start date, books required and other specific information about your chosen program.
  5. Enroll. CET career training operates rolling admissions, meaning programs start year-round so you can get going right away.

A Bit More About CET

CET has an interesting origin story. It is a community development corporation that started as a project to offer educational opportunities to migrant farm workers in California, inspired by union organizer Cesar Chávez and the Catholic social justice movement. Today, CET has a robust program for farm workers and their dependents as well as a program to help people navigate the U.S. immigration system. Many instructors and programs are fully accessible to Spanish speakers whose English proficiency is still developing.

The center has a number of locations across California, from Coachella to Watsonville, as well as locations in Virginia and Texas. Alongside the electrician program there are also programs in business, childcare, culinary, transportation and medical disciplines.