Friday, May 11, 2012

Less Theory, More Practice: The Benefits of Apprenticeship Programs

The main difference between an apprenticeship and a traditional degree program is the theory-practice ratio implemented in each. Typically, degree programs are extremely theory-heavy, and aim to introduce students to centuries' worth of ideas and schools of thought pertaining to a respective area of study. For example, an English Literature major will spend a good portion of their academic career reading and discussing the works of countless authors, from Homer's The Iliad (1194-1184 BC) to more obscure, lesser known works by modern authors like Michael Turner and Charles de Lint.
An apprentice, on the other hand, will find that their time in school will be dedicated more to practicing their skill set. That is not to say that apprenticeship programs do not focus on theory. Of course they do! However, before apprentices can even think of approaching a mechanism, they must first understand the concepts around it. In fact, theory is typically taught throughout the entire apprenticeship program, giving students the opportunity to learn new principles as their skills mature.
A focus on practice means that students will be able to get hands-on experience while they are earning their certification. Unlike degree graduates, who more often than not graduate with little to no experience in their field, apprentices leave school having already clocked in a significant number of hours working. What this means is that apprentices overcome their novice stage while they are still in school, giving them a one-up in their respective industry.
An additional benefit to apprenticeship programs is the level of industry exposure students get. While apprentices are put alongside master tradespeople to learn and perfect the required expertise, they are also forming relationships with industry leaders. For example, let us say a student pursuing an automotive apprenticeship is placed at a local garage in order to complete the work experience necessary to gain his certification. The student will invariably develop relationships with colleagues, ones that will likely last years, and which will expose him to other sectors and people of the industry. In short, the nature of apprenticeships place students in an environment that gives them the opportunity to develop bonds with people, to discover different aspects of the industry, and, ultimately, be completely in the know of all things field-related.
Students who aspire to enter a skilled trade profession, such as mechanics, welding, and plumbing, may prefer to opt for an apprenticeship. There are no hard facts to sustain the belief that degree programs are better than apprenticeship programs, or vice versa. The advantages of one over the other completely depend on your own goals, and what you hope to get out of your time as a student.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

5 Different Types of Electrician Careers

Deciding that you want to become an electrician is only part of narrowing down your career options. There are several different specializations within the electrician industry, so it is important that you explore these specializations before enrolling into a program and earning your certification. Here is a quick look at some of the different types of electricians out there.
Domestic electricians are likely the type of electrician who we are all most familiar with. Ultimately, domestic electricians are responsible for installing and repairing any and all electrical wiring in a residential setting. From the breaker unit to the wire running across the walls in the attic, domestic electricians are the go-to pros for any house-hold electrical work.
Commercial electricians extend their skills to trade settings, such as stores, shopping malls, schools and hospitals, restaurants and office buildings. This line of electric work involves installing, testing and repairing lighting and air conditioning systems. Also, many commercial facilities will need to be equipped with security systems. Most importantly, commercial settings are often obliged to adhere to health and safety standards, which electricians are responsible to know and implement.
Construction electricians are trained to install and design the electrical structure of a new building, be it residential, commercial, or industrial. That said, construction electricians typically work closely with engineers, architects, and carpenters during each step of the construction process.
Industrial electricians are responsible for installing, repairing, maintaining, and testing electrical equipment in factories, workshops, or any other industrial setting. Typically, most industrial electrician apprenticeships will train students to become specialists in instrumentation control systems, electronics and robotics, and blueprint interpretation.
Linemen (also referred to as Journeymen or outdoor electrician) specialize in building electrical power systems. From the construction of support tower to the installation of overhead power lines and underground cables, the work of linemen allows everyone to go about their day with modern conveniences, including street and traffic lights.
Regardless of which area you decide to specialize in, most electrician apprenticeships will teach the Canadian Electrical Code, meaning you will need to learn and know the code thoroughly. The code itself contains information on requirements and provisions pertaining to all electrician work, as well as details on alternative materials and resources that electricians can use instead of their traditional counterparts.
Depending on the situation, industrial electricians may prefer to work as independent contractors rather than permanent technicians for corporations. There is no good or bad choice. It all depends on your preferred career setting.