Industrial Electrical Technology Degrees: Career Diploma, Associate & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in an industrial electrical technology program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of a diploma and an associate degree, and potential careers.
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Studying Industrial Electrical Technology: Programs at a Glance

Industrial electrical technology refers to all electrical equipment used in non-residential settings, which can include business and construction areas. Graduates from an industrial electrical technology diploma or associate degree program can find employment as industrial electricians or electrical repairers and installers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for electricians from 2010-2020 are projected to grow 23%, while jobs for electrical installers and repairers are expected to increase by only 3% over the same decade.

Most states regulate electricians but licensure requirements vary per state, so be sure to check into local regulations. Requirements often include a certain amount of on-the-job training under supervision as well as passing a written exam. You might want to consider that apprenticeship programs in the field are standard, according to BLS, and build in on-the-job training; however, you can also apply some credit earned in educational programs toward an apprenticeship.

Diploma Associate
Who is this degree for? Aspiring industrial electrical technicians or electricians who want some formal education in the field Aspiring industrial electrical technicians or electricians who want a formal, broad-based education
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) Career paths for the electrical technology diploma are similar to those for the associate degree - Electrician ($49,000 - on-the-job training may be required in addition to competing a program before being able to work independently)*
- Industrial and commercial equipment electrical repairer and installer ($52,000)*
Time to Completion 1 year full-time 2 years full-time
Prerequisites A high school diploma A high school diploma
Online Availability Rare Rare

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Industrial Electrical Technology Diploma

You can find diploma programs in both electrical technology and industrial electrical technology. In an electrical technology diploma program, you learn about both residential and industrial equipment and systems - although some programs allow you to concentrate specifically in one or the other - while a program specific to industrial electrical technology focuses exclusively on equipment used in non-residential settings, such as factories and manufacturing companies.

Diploma programs might include between 34-60 credit hours. Most schools include hands-on training, which allows you to interact with professional equipment and practice diagnosing technical issues with the machinery; however, some schools may require you to purchase your own tools.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Will help you develop technical skills necessary for the field
  • Can be completed within a year
  • Less cost due to less required courses (compared to an associate degree program)

Cons

  • Electrician apprenticeship programs are also available and can provide an education that includes on-the-job training
  • Employers typically prefer electrical repairers and installers with an associate degree*
  • May have to purchase your own tools and equipment to complete practice labs

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

A few general education courses are commonly included in the diploma curriculum, such as English, math, and communication. At least one course on safety procedures for electricity is generally included. You can expect hands-on interactions with the equipment in courses such as:

  • Wiring
  • Electrical circuits
  • Transformers
  • Electrical controls
  • Troubleshooting
  • Grounding
  • Safety procedures

Online Diploma Options

Online diploma programs in this field are very rare. Programs are generally hands-on and site-based. However, some options are available that allow you to complete part of your industrial electrical technology diploma coursework online.

Getting Ahead with a Diploma

To stand out with a diploma, you can gain voluntary certification available from the Electronics Technicians Association International. Four basic certification options are offered and intended for entry-level practitioners, in addition to journeyman and senior-level options. The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians also offers voluntary certifications for students and technicians at all levels.

Diploma Alternatives

According to the BLS, most electricians receive training through apprenticeship programs, which generally last around four years. Apprenticeships include both technical training as well as on-the-job experiences. Prerequisites include a high school diploma and completed math coursework, and you must be at least 18 years old to apply.

Associate Degree in Industrial Electrical Technology

While earning an associate degree in the field, you learn to install, test, and maintain various electrical systems. You study fundamental principles of electricity as well as system components including wiring, motor controls, programmable controls, and transformers. Additionally, you can expect to review the National Electrical Code, so you will be well-versed in the safety standards required in the electrical industry.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Job growth for electricians is predicted to be faster than average*
  • Opportunity to participate in an internship
  • Courses could transfer to a 4-year technology bachelor's degree program

Cons

  • Job growth for electrical repairers and installers is predicted to be slower than average*
  • Electrical shock is an industry hazard*
  • Electricians may need to work overtime or on weekends and evenings

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Course requirements for an associate degree in industrial electrical technology are similar to those in a diploma program; however, students have to take more classes, which could include extra technical courses as well as more general education requirements. You can expect laboratory courses in which you'll troubleshoot and repair real electrical systems. In addition to the courses featured in the above diploma course list, you might take these courses in an associate degree program:

  • Digital electronics
  • Transducers
  • Electronic blueprints
  • Electronic communications

Online Degree Options

Online options for associate degree programs in industrial electrical technology are also available but uncommon. It's important to be aware that even associate degree programs with online dimensions generally require site-based labwork in this field of study.

Getting Ahead with a Degree

Although many schools offer opportunities for students to participate in internships, they aren't necessarily built into the curriculum. Take advantage of this time to get some real-world experience while still pursuing your degree. Often, schools have connections with local businesses and factories, and you can gain hands-on practice for academic credit.

Degree Alternatives

An alternative program to consider is an associate degree program in electrical engineering technology. Unlike an industrial electrical technology program, electronic engineering technology programs focus on design and development. According to the BLS, electrical and electronics engineering technicians earned a median annual wage of approximately $57,000 as of May 2011, which was higher than wages for electricians and industrial/commercial equipment electronic repairers and installers. However, the jobs in this field are only expected to grow by 2% in the 2010-2020 decade, reports the BLS.

Popular Schools

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      • Associate's - Electronics Engineering Technology
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      • Associate: Network Engineering
      • Associate: Network Engineering
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      • AAS in Technical Studies (Electronic / Instrumentation Technologies)
      • AS in Science in Technology (Computer Technologies)
      • AS in Science in Technology (Electromechanical Technologies)
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ECPI University

  • Associate's - Electronics Engineering Technology

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Kaplan University

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Virginia College

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