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Is anyone here an electrician or maybe your SO?

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I'm looking for advice on what it takes to become an electrician and what the best route to take would be. From what I understand, there are really 3 options:


1) Go to a CC and get a degree

2) Go to a technical college to learn about being an electrician

3) Start out as an apprentice whether that is union or non-union


Can anyone share with me about these options. The 3rd option is what sounds like the best option, but I know that it's VERY hard to get accepted into the union and is probably very difficult to get an apprentice job right now much of anywhere. Would that be an accurate assumption?



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I wonder if it would depend on the state you live in?


My dh is an electrician. He was hired as a helper back in the day when they did that. It was suggested he attend a 9 month technical program, which he did at night after he worked all day. He works at a University and is coming up on 25 years. Very good pay, good benefits. He works M-F 7am-3pm. They do have some shift work now but that falls on new hires. There is plenty of work/overtime and the University is expanding all the time and hiring.


My dh is not IBEW but IOUE (that is the union at the University). There are a number of IBEW electricians who came over to the University because it is steady. My dh does not need a license because he works under a supervisor who holds the license for Chicago. IL does not require a state license but allows each city to offer the license. My dh did have a license from our city which was inexpensive, but the CE classes to renew the license were crazy expensive. We eventually let it lapse because of that. So he does not do independent side work.


Much of the work my dh does is considered maintenance. But it has been a good job for him and has paid the bills - the university is the only place he has worked. I think it is a good trade, but much will depend on the area. Recently the university opened up a new position and there were 75 applicants on the first day the position was posted.


My dh could possibly make more $ working out of the union hall, but the university offers good benefits and steady work/pay.

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I would think where you live is a big factor. Dh is an a/c contractor. He never looks at tech school grads because they so often are un-teachable. They know the lingo & the basics, but it takes YEARS to be proficient. It's rare for contractors to be union in FL, so I don't know anything about that part of things. Dh & every contractor we know started at the bottom and worked their way up. They may have college, but the deciding factor is getting the state licenses which require experience.

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My DH is a Journeyman Carpenter and a Journeyman Pointer, Caulker, Cleaner (it's in the masonry restoration field). He would love to join the Electricians union as well.


It's not too hard to get into the Union, but it can be hard to find work. The Union's around here accept applications, but if there is no work, you won't get your hours and it will take longer than 3 years to get up to Journey level.


As a general rule, I am anti-union for most professions, but I think for the "trades" the apprenticeship programs are great.

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Dh is a master electrician in several states. I can ask him when he gets home what is best right now in industry in our area to help you get an idea. He went to vo tech through high school and then joined a union. I know the kids from college frustrate him as they can't seem to think outside the box. His most hated line is when they tell him that the examples in the books said it was ok. Then he has to explain again that code says no and so does common sense. He has somewhere around 30 years of experience and says lately he not impressed at what he is seeing. He has been teaching for a few years as a side job and sees a lot. He likes the kids whose companies do not pay for courses as they show up, do the work and are not offended when they get the grade they earned. He had a student bring a six pack to classes once as he didn't want to be bored during the 8 hour class.


I don't know if you are set in the career but welders are short right now and in our area they are paying well and paying for classes. Most welders here are at retirement age and they need them.

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FIL learned in the Navy. He requested it and was trained in it. After 4 years doing electrical for the Navy he was an electrician in a manufacturing plant. Very steady work, a lot of overtime. He did not need a license. He says manufacturing pays less but is much steadier with better benefits then construction.


He just retired though. I'm sure you could get more current viewpoints.

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