I believe within next 10 years, electricians as a "trade" will no longer be around. Think about this...Yellowpage book comes out, under "Electric Contractor", homebuilders now have ads, offering electrical services, mechanical contractors as well, and we can't leave out those handymen ads that pop up everywhere. Don't forget about that Big Box store that will sell you a book on "how-to-be-electrician", book too confusing, just ask the lady who works in that dept, she can explain it all to you. We've all come across this problem, and we all need to come together and do something about it! Form a national organization, or committee, strongly pushing for TOUGHER laws and TOUGHER fees for working without license & permit. Push for a national or state-wide licensing program, instead of city to city, where in some, you pay a small fee, and your an electrician. I love my career as electrician, but before long, I'm gonna have to become a plumber just so I can do electrical work. Let me hear your thoughts, good or bad.
I have no worries about the continuation of the trade. What I do see, though, is greater expectations for a well-rounded journeyman.
If anything, the trade is expanding. Many things - CATV, VFD's, and many other matters didn't exist just a few years ago.
What are gone are the days where someone who changed light switches could get away with calling himself an electrician.
An example is yesterday's call. I accompanied a plumber to evaluate the pumps in a sewage lift station. While there were other issues as well, it took me only moments to discover that one pump wasn't working at all - and identify the cause. This is the sort of thing that separates the pretender fro the pro.
Agreed (with Reno), the trade is expanding, plus in today's litigious environment many (esp business organizations) need an approved/accredited electrician to sign off on a job or design, the handy-man wont crack it as the business wont take unnecessary risk to save a couple of hundred bucks. We are in a manufacturing environment of 270 people and we have two full time licensed electricians on the payroll, not to mention 3 PE (elec.) like myself - and we wont touch anything in the plant. BTW I am a complete desk jockey.
Thanks for the replies. It's nice to know I'm not only one out there dealing with this problem. Seems like everyweek now I lose a job to some handyman/electrician. Sometimes people don't really care how much training you've acquired, or how many organizations you are a member of. They need something fixed, and CHEAPEST price is the winner. I've been in business 2 years now, and just having hard time coming to terms with that fact. Thats all.
As an inspector I am coming across electricians that I would trust my life to! These are some real pros - doing fantastic work, both neat and correct- no cutting corners. I am glad to see their company listed in the computer tied to the permit number, as I know it will be a good inspection before I even go out to the job. Then I come across those who still can't spell ELECTRICITY. I went to a job the other day were the "electrician" ran all mc cable, no problem with that. It would have been nice if they would have supported it! They just came out of the boxes up the wall ,over to the next location, ran it down the wall to the box. NO supports. These are all open metal stud walls. Told them they need to support the cable and all of the sudden they could not speak English anymore - no lie they were speaking English when I went in and introduced myself to them, started to tell them of their violations and they no longer spoke English - just some Asian language ! I found the super and gave him a list of the violations and posted the violation sticker and left. I had an EC call me for a consultation just to ask me how to do a job - Not to find out about code requirements but to find out how to do something. I do not design their jobs , too much liability. OH well sorry to rant - back on track- I think there are qualified electricians out there and will always be, Just as there are those who are less qualified. The market is changing and the field is becoming more specialized. It is just that we seem to find those who are less then qualified first and remember them and seem to overlook the ones who are good and just do their job with no issues. The old squeaky wheel thing. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, but can also be the first replaced.
Florida is really trying to get journeyman licensing. It will be easier now that the market is tight. Back in the go go days, anyone who showed up with a rusty pair of Kliens and a mouth full of wire nuts could be an electrician.
As most of you know, NJ has State wide licensing of Electrical Contractors, as well as plumbers, Architects, PE/EE, Locksmiths, Cosmetologists, Hairdressers, FireAlarm, Burg Alarm, Surveyors, Home Improvement Contractors, and more then I feel like typing.
One person holds the EC Lic (Business Permit) and is ultimatley responsible for anything/everything done under that Lic/BP. There are a lot of other details/rules, but again, I'm not a typist.
Yes, we have licensed professionals, and I'm sorry to say...we also have some licensed non-professionals. I could call them butchers, or other terms, but I'm not.
All the rules/laws in-place, yes, we still have unlicensed people doing electrical, plumbing and probably everything else that a license is required for. (Including veternary and medical doctors).
What can we do about it? A written, specific complaint to the State Board of Licensed Electrical Contractors. Follow up witah any additional info they may request, and a few get 'caught' and face monetary fines. You cannot file a complaint over the phone, and it must be on the correct form, that you can download.
As an AHJ, I have filed the complaints, and followed thru with additional info, but sad to say a few times no results were achieved. We find HO's that take out permits, and get an unlicensed person to actually do the work, which puts the HO on the hook for filing false documents, and may lead to a $2000 fine. It's an annoying situation.
Hacks? I have my share, but..I also have my share of pros.
Yes, todays EC has to learn that THHN, NMC, AC/MC are not the only wires he can install! Learn, or hire someone to do Cat6, CCTV, Alarms, Audio/Video, Smarthouse, and all that 'other low-volt stuff'; it's $$$$ and work.
PS: WE cannot be a trade that gets absorbed, I tell the apprentices that I teach that this is a good trade; they have to know that they start at the bottom, and if they preservere, they can get to the top!