Do You Need Previous Experience to Join a Trade School?
October 29, 2021
The answer is… no! You do not need previous experience to join a trade school. You can be a complete novice. Even if you have never held a wrench before, you can enroll in classes, learn the ropes, and begin working in the construction industry.
In fact, courses are designed to take beginners and build up their knowledge to the point where they can work productively and safely on a job site. Will you learn everything you need to know about being an electrician? No. Some things take years of experience to learn. But you’ll learn what you need to get hired and succeed.
While students sometimes start classes after gaining previous experience in construction, instructors don’t expect students to know anything about the program or trade. And everyone takes the same courses. There are no “advanced” or “upper division” classes. The construction trades are regulated by the state and federal government.
So, if you want to become an electrician, you should know that you can join an electrician trade school even if you have never turned a wrench before. It does not matter if fellow students in your class have worked hands-on with tools and are already somewhat knowledgeable in the trade.
A trade school education is roughly the same for everyone, regardless of what school they attend or how much they know beforehand.
The trade school curriculum is designed for beginners, and the majority of people who attend electrical trade school will have had no prior experience. After all, how do you get experience as an electrician without first going to school? You really can’t—at least, not safely. The only experience one may have is knowledge of basic electrical principles. Some people may also be mechanically inclined, so they know how to use tools better than others.
But that prior knowledge doesn’t amount to much. The learning experience for everyone will be the same. And at the end of the course everyone will have the same knowledge and abilities.
It doesn’t even matter which electrical trade school you attend. The state of California mandates that electrical trainee students take at least 720 hours of classes. Some trade schools do have courses that have more hours. Here at I-TAP, students in our 26-week electrical trainee program receive 900 hours of instruction. That said, at a basic level, electrical trade schools across California are required to cover the same material.
The only real difference between trade schools is the size and sophistication of their hands-on labs.
The state-mandated education is one of the factors that make a trade school education different from a 4-year college.
Students at 4-year colleges must take required courses to earn their degree. But even students in the same major can take different courses to fulfill their requirements. And the same course at two or more different colleges may cover vastly different material, as course material is not mandated by the state.
In addition, prior experience in a subject does matter, as professors expect students to already know many of the topics covered in the class. This is especially true in upper division courses. Remember, electrical training courses have only one track. There are no upper level courses required, so what you learn in class and lab is what you will need to know on the job.
Electrical trainee courses are built for beginners. Never hammered a nail? It really won’t matter. You may need to play catchup in developing your mechanical abilities. But when it comes to school, once the course starts, everyone in the class will receive the same training. It’s different for students at a 4-year college. These students may have more options, but those options don’t guarantee the same experience, even for students in the same major.
If you are interested in becoming an electrician—and you are just a beginner with no previous experience—contact I-TAP! Our 26-week trainee program is perfect for people of all backgrounds and experience levels. Get in touch to learn more today.
Ready to learn a skilled trade and work on some of the most exciting commercial construction projects in California and beyond?
I-TAP is an electrical apprenticeship program that helps you find your passion, grow your skills, and place you in the perfect electrician job.