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#61186 - 01/18/06 12:57 PM questions about becoming an electrician
rechargeable Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/05/05
Posts: 2
Loc: New York, NY
First of all, hello everyone. This is my first post here. From the title of this thread, I am obviously not an electrician (yet?) but I am seriously considering entering an apprenticeship, most likely for inside wireman, though I don't fully understand the differences between that and residential just yet.

I do have an electrical engineering degree, and I worked as an RF engineer for a cell phone company for three years before I could no longer stand the office environment and the fact that my job didn't involve accomplishing anything tangible. While I was there I envied the field technicians because they got to go out to the cell sites and tear things apart, fix them, put them back together, etc... They were the really skilled people in that establishment, and I swear they were the only ones there who were basically down to earth.

The more I consider it, the more I think I need to be out there working with actual, practical electrical applications and learning universally useful skills from people who really know what they're doing. So, I think I want to be an electrician.

Currently, I live in New York City, which I discovered recently is a serious impediment for people who want an apprenticeship. I called the local 3 here the other day and before I could even ask, I was told that they didn't have anything at all for the next 2-3 years.

That was disappointing, but not really a huge problem since I didn't think I wanted to live here for five more years anyway, but it does make me wonder about other major cities.

Do any of you know if other big cities generally pose such obstacles for new apprentices? Judging from the union websites, places other than NYC seem to be a bit more organized in their approach, with particular application times each year and whatnot, but obviously there could still be waiting lists...

Is there any particular area of the country where there's a lot of need for new electrical workers? The areas I'm specifically interested in, other than NY, are the San Francisco bay area and metro Boston...

Is there much difference in the knowledge required for inside wireman vs. residential? Is one preferable to another for any particular reason?

Also, are apprentices always expected to stick to a particular region during their entire apprenticeship, or can they move around the country? Part of what attracts me to electrical work is that it's needed everywhere...

Thanks for all your help, and for taking the time to read all this.

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#61187 - 01/18/06 01:32 PM Re: questions about becoming an electrician
Old Town Offline

Registered: 11/24/05
Posts: 21
Loc: Dallas,TX USA
I don't know if you are interested in moving south, but the Dallas, TX area is always in need of skilled electrical workers. The union is not very strong in Texas but there are other resources for training such as IEC. With your educational background you should be able to jump right in and find work in a hurry.

Good Luck,

#61188 - 01/18/06 02:16 PM Re: questions about becoming an electrician
Radar Offline

Registered: 04/30/04
Posts: 349
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I'm an inside wireman in the Los Angeles area, and I believe there is a waiting period here as well in order to start an apprenticeship with the local union. I also understand that in the San Francisco area the local union is very strong, so that may or may not work to your advantage. You can check things out here for the LA area at:

Work in general is good in the greater LA area, and there are also plenty of small, medium and large non-union contractors that could use bright and energetic help. Some belong to another contractors group that runs a separate state approved apprenticeship program. I was involved with that association 20 or so years ago, long before they developed their apprenticeship program, but I'm not able to be more help than that nowdays. I'm sure others here can help.

Hope this helps some,
There are 10 types of people. Those who know binary, and those who don't.

#61189 - 01/18/06 03:05 PM Re: questions about becoming an electrician
Celtic Offline

Registered: 02/26/05
Posts: 367
Loc: NJ
The main difference between between an "inside wireman" and a "residential wireman" is the training.

An inside wireman goes through a 5 year apprenticeship, a residential is 3 years.

Coupled with the extra training is also a higher rate. A inside wireman is an "A" electrician and gets "A" rate. A residential wireman is a "B" electrician and gets a "B" rate. NYC has classifications down to "M" (maintanance..if I am not mistaken).

SF and NYC have high rates - it also costs a lot to live there. NJ (Northern..LU 164 and 102) also have a high rate...but 102 has limited work; 164 is experiencing a "lull" is work - but with the much ballyhooed "Xanadu" project in the process of setting steel the next 5 years looks very promising. The Don (as in Trump) is also builing two 54 story hi-rise buildings in 164 area.

If I were you, I would set my sights a bit to the West (NJ).

EDIT: Below

Whatever you do, where ever you go - do not become a "C" man (communications). The C program was flooded in the early 90's with the internet explosion....followed by the dot com bomb - some C men have not worked in years.

[This message has been edited by Celtic (edited 01-18-2006).]
~~ CELTIC ~~
...-= NJ =-...

#61190 - 01/19/06 01:48 AM Re: questions about becoming an electrician
Trumpy Offline


Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8532
Loc: SI,New Zealand
If you are that keen on training to be an Electrician.
Get ready for hard work.
No amount of theoretical knowledge will prepare someone like yourself for the work ahead.
You will be ahead on the theoretical side and that is where you advantage ends.
I was a 21 year old Radio Ham when I started my time here in New Zealand as an Electrician.
You will crawl through nasty places under buildings, houses, you name it and for little more than a meal ticket.
We all start at the same level mate!.
I was on a broom for the first 6 months of my Apprenticeship.
Having said that I did another apprenticeship as a Line Mechanic after that.
You have to have a reasonably thick skin to be an Electrical Apprentice, or you won't last.
I however, wish you the best of luck, mate!.
You have to want it!, for you, not your Dad or your Mum
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

#61191 - 01/19/06 10:43 AM Re: questions about becoming an electrician
rechargeable Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/05/05
Posts: 2
Loc: New York, NY
Thanks for all the responses! Very helpful info.

Radar, you mention that there are plenty of non-union contractors in your area that would be in need of decent - though not necessarily skilled (yet) - help. Is there a particular site on the web, or some other publication, through which these contractors advertise their need for that work? Or do I just have to rifle through all the local classifieds and cold-call contractors myself?

While I'm apprenticeship-less in NYC it would be nice if I could find some of that work to get my feet wet...

#61192 - 01/19/06 11:55 AM Re: questions about becoming an electrician
Old Town Offline

Registered: 11/24/05
Posts: 21
Loc: Dallas,TX USA
Here is a link for the IEC. They offer training and probably have a chapter in a city near you.

#61193 - 01/19/06 12:19 PM Re: questions about becoming an electrician
mshaw Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 45
Loc: Fairborn, Oh, USA
I went through a program through ABC here is the link. I am neither pro/con union programs. Most E/C's in my area are merit shops (non-union). Most unions will not recognize journeyman certifications from non-union organizations but I know many electricians who were placed on the rolls by locals when they needed electricians. It appears to be more political than anything else.


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