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Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 3
kbrown Offline OP
New Member

I am starting a first year electrical apprenticeship in a few weeks. This is a career shift for me as I have had a cushy office job for over a decade.

I will be on site at a concrete low-rise townhouse project. Working on a construction site will be a new experience for me and I am looking for a few tips or pointers on my first day/week.

I am supposed to show up with a hard-hat, steel toes, 14.4v Dewalt drill, and a side pouch. Any advice on these items in particular would help (recomendations).

Any input would be appreciated.


Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 174
Yeah ditch the Dewalt and get a Milwaukee.

Jesus may have been a capenter,but God was an electrician.Genesis1:3
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 29
Junior Member
I read this post a few extra times.

Sounds like BS to me.

But, I will give some advice Kbrown.

Im an EC and I would never hire an 10 year "cushy office guy"

Unless your an exceptional athlete of some kind with a desire for misery and pain:


Construction is no place for you to start with your "cushy" background. Your in for a world of hurt.

Job site politics will make you fail. You will be made the joke of every day. You will be told to do and learn things that are designed to make an idiot out of you. Sometimes these things are not safe.

You will not do "ELECTRICIAN" work. You will be a "grunt".

Try digging ditches and unloading semi trailers of gear and fixtures for hours on end.

If your lucky after a year or so you might and start to "bend conduit" and no one will help you or spend any time teaching you how to do it. You wont no any CODE. So the sh!t you run will be ridiculed and you wont no why.

Then on one bright and happy day you will graduated to a wire pulling detail. Heavy wire. You will be pulling with all your guts, sometimes on a ladder and it will not be "cushy".
I just scratched the surface here Kbrown.

I would advise you to reconsider what you "think" your getting into.

Then muliple classes for code training will follow, right during your kids school activities. You wont be there.

Sorry, "first day" I dont give you a chance in hell.

Last edited by electure; 12/17/07 09:47 PM. Reason: Edited for "union" comment
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 29
Junior Member

Will you explain why you edit my "union" comment.

I will need to consider for any/if or other post.

I hate stopping free speech.

If your "union" just say so now.

Last edited by Gmack; 12/17/07 10:15 PM.
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,457
Likes: 3
Cat Servant
Gmack, if I may explain the policies here at ECN ...

Any topic that, in the slightest way, suggests a "union vs. non-union' issue is simply not allowed here.

The topic is a tender one for many. The original reason for the discussion is quickly forgot, as rants, raves, and bad manners come to the fore.

You want to learn the trade? More power to you. But ... it will be quite some time before you know enough to do more than manual labor. For a beginner, the 'tools of choice' are shovels and pipe benders.

Show up for work as instructed. Do your best. Just don't expect to be doing anything even remotely resembling 'electric work' for some time.

Last edited by renosteinke; 12/17/07 11:04 PM.
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,949
Likes: 34
I suppose one thing that is different in a right to work state is, if you can do the job, they will let you. Commercial is a little tougher to jump into because of the complexity and coordination necessary for the job to flow but in 1&2 family I have seen some exceptional guys who were running a crew in a month.
Granted they were just yanking Romex around cookie cutter houses but they did get a chance to work up to their ability (and unfortunately beyond sometimes their ability).
IMHO a manager is a moron if they don't develop their people as fast as they can ... but that may just be a "management" opinion.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 3
kbrown Offline OP
New Member
Thanks for the replies. I was hoping to have a few illusions dispelled. I realize working conditions are going to be difficult.

I should clarify. I have some experience with low voltage video systems, but the construction environment is a huge departure.

What I lack in practical experience is hopefully offset by a degree of maturity and motivation to stick it out (family to provide for).

I have the opportunity due to an influential character reference.

Some of the replies have given me pause for thought. Any further would still help.


Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 49
kbrown it all depends upon your employer and the current projects he might have. Townhouses/condos will not strain you too much. Especially "low rise townhouses" as you stated you will be starting with, no real difference from residential there....if it is three stories or less.

Just show up on time and do what the foreman tells you to do...yes the new guys end up doing all the dirty jobs...but they also end up doing all the mindless rote jobs that involve no real effort just mind numbing repetition.

Also I have to disagree with some of the comments made above, as a leadman it is my job to train you to do the job I need you to do. I will show you how to bend conduit and teach you the basic "rules of thumb" for doing it. I will teach you phaseing and explain the conductor color codeing we use. If you ask me any kind of semi-intelligent question I will take a few minutes to try to answer/explain it to you.

Yeah you don't know jack about the trade, but then again neither did I in 1981...doesn't mean I have to lord it over you or have fun at your expense now. I came up in the trade in that atmosphere and if it wasn't for a couple of guys who actually tried to help I wouldn't be here now. Don't let the previous answers discourage you, we aren't all like that. But make no mistake that it is hard (very hard sometimes) work and that you need a fairly good I.Q. to excell at it.

Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 49
And by the way the best asset you have IS your maturity and a good willing to do anything and don't whine. You'll go far that way.... laugh

Joined: May 2006
Posts: 29
Junior Member
Reno, thanx for the tip on ECN. I think it is a mistake to limit free speech. My comment was not out of line for the OP. Kbrown should know what he is getting into. I too was a bonified brother of the IBEW back in the day.

Does that statement now have to be deleted also?

Example of a 1 year apprentice "hot shot" who told me he was going to make it on the "fast track".

After a month of putting up with his constant doing things his "fast track" ways AND having to un-train what others had "not taught him", I told him to grab his "Wiggy" and test all the emergency duplexes.

He stared at me in total ignorance. I then and there had to "train" him how to use a voltage tester. He was lost.

The premonition that these new guys will get training is just not reality.

And it is not safe either.

In my zip we have had more than one death due to new guys being in the wrong place at the wrong time working for the wrong foreman.

Kbrown, beware. electrical. We had one 21 year old apprentice with a wife and kid who fried on some 480. I knew the dumb ass foreman from previous jobs. They took him out of the field and gave him a cushy desk job to satisfy the insurance company, who had to pay big time to the widow.

Then we had anthor poor soul who worked for the GC. One day they dropped a "pre cast" on him. He was a "new guy". A dead new guy".

Construction is and always will remain a dangerous enviroment/job.

Kbrown, take care.

Last edited by Gmack; 12/18/07 06:58 AM.
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