An in-depth look at two of Dunwoody’s fastest-growing programs: Electrical Construction Design & Management and Electrical Construction & Maintenance
That’s how Electrical Construction & Maintenance Principal Instructor Polly Friendshuh describes electricity to her students on their first day of lecture.
“When you think about it, you are teaching someone something that is basically invisible to the naked eye,” Friendshuh said. “It is something you cannot see. So how do we make sense out of that?”
If a career in magic—or electricity—seems abstract to you, you’re not alone.
“Most of the students who come to talk to us about the Electrical Construction & Maintenance program don’t have an understanding of what the program really is,” said Electrical Construction & Maintenance Principal Instructor Steve Lee. “They have a picture in their head of wiring a house or doing some kind of small or large commercial project—and that’s it.
“But there’s more than that. It’s troubleshooting, servicing, installation, and repair in any facet that you can think of where there is electricity. It’s more than just the plug-ins and the lights you see in your house.”
Some of those facets include electrical systems like renewable energy, solar power, elevators, batteries, fire alarms, and security.
But finding an interest in electricity is only just the beginning. The next step is determining what career path to take.
Exploring Dunwoody Electrical Construction Design & Management and Electrical Construction & Maintenance
Generally speaking, students who pursue a degree in Electrical Construction Design & Management work indoors, using computer software programs like AutoCAD and Revit to design construction documents. They work directly with architects and building owners to determine what kinds of electrical systems are logical and possible in a new or existing structure.
Common job titles for program graduates include Electrical Designers, Electrical Estimators, and Electrical Project Managers. On average, these workers make about $54,300 annually and are typically employed at electrical contracting companies or engineering firms.
Students who graduate from Dunwoody’s Electrical Construction & Maintenance take the proposals put forth by electrical designers and help make it happen. It’s their job to ensure the submitted blueprints are up to code and that the proposed designs will actually work in the given space.
Using their main tools of screwdrivers, benders, and wire cutters, these workers spend their days installing and maintaining electrical systems in a wide array of buildings, from residential to commercial to industrial and manufacturing.
Graduates from this program go on to become Apprentice or Maintenance Electricians, which make, on average, $58,810 annually.*
But, no matter the path, both electrical designers and electricians work hand-in-hand.
“We’re really two sides of the same blueprint,” said Electrical Design & Management Senior Instructor Nick Bohl. “It’s just a matter of figuring out whether you want to be the person creating and designing the blue prints or if you want to be the person who brings it to life.”
Choosing the right career path
But, sometimes that decision isn’t always obvious—especially for students right out of high school. That’s why Dunwoody’s electrical department is purposefully set-up so students in both the Electrical Construction Design & Management and Electrical Construction & Maintenance programs take the exact same classes their first year.
This provides a chance for students who are interested in electrical systems—but don’t yet know what path they’d like to take—an opportunity to experience both professions.
“Usually when you go to college, you have to pick a major. And for someone right out of high school or someone relatively young, that’s hard because you’re looking at your future and thinking ‘what do I do?’” Friendshuh said.
“So the opportunity to experience both paths helps tremendously. It’s a huge selling point of the programs for a lot of people, because students can come in, see both careers, and know they won’t be stuck.”
The course schedule also provides students with another major benefit: the ability to complete both programs—and earn both associate’s degrees—in just three years.
“It’s unbelievable what opens up for you when you have got both the hands-on skills and the computer/design skills,” Lee said.
Another career path available to both program graduates is in project management. Dunwoody’s Construction Management bachelor’s completion degree allows students to transfer their two-year electrical degree directly into a four-year bachelors degree in Construction Management.
Two additional years of schooling allows graduates to quickly move up in their given industries, taking on leadership roles such as Project Manager, Construction Manager, Estimator, or Construction Business Owner.
As managers, graduates can expect to oversee the work of both the designers and the electricians. They develop building schedules and estimates, monitor build progress, and track construction costs to make sure the project gets done on time and within budget.
The average annual salary for employees in these positions is around $90,470.*
Dunwoody graduates in high demand
Graduates from all three programs are in high demand. In fact, Electrical Construction Design & Management, Electrical Construction & Maintenance, and Construction Management each placed 100% of their students last year.**
And, in many cases, those students were hired while they were still in school.
“These students are hirable,” Friendshuh said. “Most electrical students are working by their first year—in their field. If you want a job and you want options, this career path is it.”
Bohl agreed: “Our students hit the ground [running]. They come out of the program knowing not only the job but they have the experience, too,” Bohl said.
And employers know it.
Recent graduates are working at companies like Egan Companies, Hunt Electric Corporation, Black & Veatch, Cal-Tex Electric, Laketown Electric, Kimley-Horn & Associates, Ryan Companies, Mortenson Construction, and with various local unions.
The bottom line? Dunwoody electrical programs provide students access to multiple career paths and the skills and knowledge to tackle any one of them. Whether it’s construction, maintenance, design, low voltage, high voltage, estimating, sales, or project management—Dunwoody’s programs help students find their niche and then succeed in their chosen field.
If either electrical program, or construction management, sounds interesting to you, attend our next open house on, Tuesday, June 13. Stop by anytime from 3 – 7 p.m. and meet with faculty, tour lab spaces, and talk curriculum. It’s not too late to enroll for fall semester.
*Based on May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for the state of Minnesota published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov.
**Data reflects placement for AY2015-16 graduates indicating employment in their field of study within 6 months following graduation. Full data calculations are available for review during College open hours Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT at Career Services or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.