Electrician student_featured image

Enhancements to NICC electrical programs increase student enrollment capacity and help meet workforce needs.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The new enhancements to the programs allow NICC to expand program capacity from 15 students annually to 30 students.

NORTHEAST IOWA—There will always be a need for skilled people to do electrical work, professional and safe wiring for our homes, businesses, rental properties and public infrastructure. Two programs at Northeast Iowa Community College – Commercial/Residential Electrician and Industrial Electrician – provide students with the training and knowledge needed to thrive in this critical industry.

As part of their learning students in the programs cross-train with Carpentry students each year to construct a new house in the community from foundation to roofing and finish work. The experiential learning integrated into the program provides many of the best real-world, hands-on lessons, said Reilly Reader, a May 2019 Industrial Electrician graduate.

“In high school I became very interested in the electrical field and the career’s endless opportunities. What sealed the deal with choosing Northeast Iowa Community College were the alumni I met from the Industrial Electrician program. The hands-on classes, such as Commercial/Residential Installation and Motor Control Principles, really helped because I learned actual applications of the trade,” Reader said. “The house project was a great learning experience! Our instructor split us into groups and assigned us certain sections of the house to wire.”

Kathleen Nacos-Burds headshotKathleen Nacos-Burds, Ph.D., believes the programs’ focus on hands-on interdisciplinary learning, as well as comprehensive renovations to three lab areas in the program, prepares students for their career in the skilled trades.

“The College has completed a complete makeover of our three labs, and these new state-of-the-art spaces include Programmable Logic Controller trainers and other advanced equipment that develop students’ skills. We have incorporated the input of a fully engaged Advisory Board that worked with us on revisions to the entire curriculum; this ensures the skills students develop in our two electrician programs meet commercial, residential and industry needs,” Nacos-Burds said. 

There are now additional courses in blueprint reading and small equipment operation, and we have three full-time faculty. The programs focus on developing students’ skills and knowledge so that, as graduates, they are truly interdisciplinary professionals in the trades working with carpenters, HVAC personnel and other electricians in the field.”

Nacos-Burds said the new enhancements to the programs allow NICC to expand program capacity from 15 students annually to 30 students. Students who graduate from the two-year program earn 2,000 journeyman electrician hours that are applicable to industry in both Iowa and Minnesota, she added.

There is also high employment demand in northeast Iowa for skilled people, according to Lightcast data. Lightcast data is a hybrid dataset derived from official government sources such as the US Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data for the college’s eight-county district indicates a 14 percent increase in job openings through 2033. The median salary for employed electricians is $61,465, a bit higher than the national median of $59,039.

Students in the Commercial-Residential Electrician diploma program gain wiring experience including service, required circuits, lighting, National Electric Code (NEC) and other electrical applications used on a job site. Graduates may advance their skills further in the Industrial Electrician Associate of Applied Science degree program. 

The two-year Industrial Electrician program teaches advanced coursework in solar energy, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), solid state electronics, motor controls, industrial troubleshooting and residential and commercial electrical construction. For more information on the programs, visit nicc.edu.