Becoming an Electrician?


Old 06-07-05, 08:43 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: WA
Posts: 117
Becoming an Electrician?

Anyone able to offer insights into the career path of an electrician?

For those who are -- would you do it again?

What steps does one need to take?
I've seen 3 yrs education + 8000 hours listed.

Does it tend to be 3 years full time classroom education?
Or is it more work full time as an apprentice + 3 years of night classes?

Where does one start? Contact a trade school? Local electrician's union?
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Old 06-07-05, 11:01 AM
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Great Question

I am interested in learning more myself.
Old 06-07-05, 03:08 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 83
You can make a good living at it. It's a serious occupation and does take time to learn and develop the skills needed to be successful.

I started in vocational school and then served a four year apprenticeship through my local JATC. I would have to say it was the best training I ever had. It was quite a commitment but they made me realize it was time to buckle down and think of my future.

The years have had ups and downs but if your agressive enough there is always work out there.

If your interested I have attached a link to the National JATC which will explain in more detail.

Good luck!
Old 06-07-05, 04:34 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: WA
Posts: 117
What do you do? Linemen, residential, industrial?

I saw quite a bit on the union page (or a local equiv of), show a sliding scale during apprenticeship that went something like 40 50 55 60 65 75 percent of journeyman's wage (~$33/hr) during the first 7 periods (sound like years).

Does this sound accurate?

Do you have one employer that you work for full time (40 hours per week?) for the entire year?

Or do you work job by job, and sometimes have dryspells with no work? Some weeks with insane overtime? If that is the case, (if you don't mind me asking), about how many hours a year do you work, and what does your annual salary end up being?
Old 06-08-05, 06:36 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 83
I have been an outside and inside wireman. I went outside during the hurricanes in Florida and ice storms in Maine.

Currently I am inside and work between 2100 and 2500 hours per year for the same company for three years now. It's possible to gross 100-125K with overtime as times are good. It all depends on the area of the country you are from.

If times get tough you may have to drag yourself (and/or family) to another part of the country that has work. It is best to obtain continuing education that your local union provides and gain certifications in the field such as welding, electrical testing and maintenance, medium voltage splicing, telecom, etc...It's a benefit to have these additional skills if inside construction dries up in your area.
Old 06-08-05, 06:48 PM
ElectricalMan's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Harrisonburg
Posts: 744
Well I can honestly say when you become an Electrician you have a great group of brothers and sisters out their who have a like interest which is what makes a board like this so great.

I am a Master Electrician here in VA but started my carreer many years ago in vocational school when I was in high school and then won the national VICA contest and was able to take my local test to become a journeyman back before it is now state I am not dating has only been state wide run here in VA since 1995 but I was licensed back in 1988.

As a career it is like anything in that it has its days and it has it's rewards as well. If you are interested in being an Electrician the education is very important and in VA you will need to join the apprentice program for 4 years here and then you can take your exam for Journeyman and then 1 year later you can take the exam again for Master.

Would I do it again...IN a heart I know it all...heck no as I learn everyday in this profession and always try something new but the basics and the knowledge you learn over the years are priceless. I am mainly a residential and commercial electrician and own my own company but I have done some industrial....I dont care for that end

If you are really serious about it you may want to contact your local community college as I am sure they have an apprentice program or can steer you in the right direction for it....if you want some learning experience now and can afford to make helpers wages ( 9-12 hr around here ) then contact a few local electrical contractors and see if they are needing helpers and you get your feet wet that way as you take on the prospect of the apprentice program.

If the work hard.....yes, it can it Electricians complain about the HVAC guys cutting our lines, and the plumbers moving our lines and so on...yep...sometimes.....BUT knowing what you do and how safe you do it can save better feeling than that as I have never seen a plumbers work kill someone.....ok plumbers dont bash me...

Again contact your local community college if you have one and I am sure they will have a program.
Old 06-09-05, 05:10 AM
pgtek's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: north Carolina
Posts: 1,391
my 2 cents

Well to start all my family are all in the electrical field
Grandpa was super for Comstock, father master electrician, uncle lineman for power company, and i was sent to tech school to become an electrical engineer.
I did 3 years and my dad would hired me in the summer.
One day we where all at my grandpa cottage and someone broke the front door.
All where puzzle how to replace the door. That'ss when i decided to switch trade and go for carpentry.
Now i'm a master carpenter and cabinet maker. I do furniture to.
But what i learn in electrical still pays me off now when i do cabinet replacement.

Ps i did replace the door for my grandpa
Old 06-09-05, 01:44 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: WA
Posts: 117
A final question or two -

I spoke with a local union rep IBEW and their apprenticeship program offers fulltime employment (4 days work, 1 day class). It pays on a scale something like $33.15/hr for journeyman wages.
First year of apprenticeship, 40% ($13/hr), goes up 5-10% per year after that.

Unfortunately, I'm ~25 with financial commitments that wouldn't allow me to take a paycut of that size.

Are there programs that you're aware of that you some how get the education (vocational school?) in the evenings, etc. and they can start full time at a significantly higher (year 2-3?) rate?
Old 06-11-05, 01:59 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 83

Unfortunately, I'm ~25 with financial commitments that wouldn't allow me to take a paycut of that size.
I know many 2-3 yr apprentices in the same boat, some with wifes and two kids. Most work two jobs or chase the OT.

IBEW apprentice rates are minimum requirements for electrical contractors. Sometimes you may get a buck or two more if you have prior experience and skills from the contractor.

If your going in green you are looking at $13/hr.

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