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#16144 - 11/06/02 04:17 AM Need Some Sound Advice...  
Burr  Offline
Junior Member
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 1
Hello all.

I just discovered this forum tonight and spent the last half hour reading a few topics. I'm in need of some advice from anyone who cares to give it.

I'm a college grad (Electronic Media) and have spent the past 5 yrs of my life working in the media field as a videographer/editor.

In so many words I'm burnt out on the ratings motivated media. I used to be able to look past it, but can no longer stomach it. I know EVERY business has something undesirable, but I've seen some rather ugly things in ALL aspects of my job. I keep telling myself to get out of the business and start a new career, but it's difficult when you've put so much time into something.

I've been talking with friends, relatives, etc who are in the electrical field and they have nothing but GREAT things to say about it.

The city in which I live has a GREAT appren/training program (IBEW) and I applied a few months ago, took the math and comprehension test, passed and now have a interview scheduled. If all goes well I'll start the training in Feb.

I'm not afraid to work hard, physically and mentally. I enjoy it. I like working outside, constructing something from beginning to end and feeling some sort of accomplishment when a job is done right. I plan to take my training and expanding on it by getting a Electrical Engineering degree some time in the future if this all pans out.

Now that I just laid all that background on you, what advice can you give me as to what to expect if accepted. What's it like starting off? Going through the training? Hours? Days? Nights? Go periods of not working? How it affects your marriage?

I know this is VERY vague, but any advice or insight would really help me out.


Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#16145 - 11/06/02 12:52 PM Re: Need Some Sound Advice...  
Pearlfish  Offline
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 83
Chicago Ridge, Il, USA
Burr, Welcome to our world. I’ve prepared for you a TOP TEN LIST OF RULES FOR APPRENTICES TO LIVE BY. You don't mention what part of the country your living/working in, so your results may vary. If your apprenticing in a big city, things will be more cut throat than in rural areas.

#10. Yes you do want to join the check pool. The $5 that you loose will buy you plenty of good will.

#9. When it’s your turn to bring the donuts. Don’t be cheap and buy the discount brand. Show your journeyman that you have a little class and you’ll spend less time cleaning out the truck.

#8. Buy yourself a good set of tools. If it looks like you bought your tools off the rack in the checkout line of the grocery store, you will be sent home.

#7. Bring your tools with you every day. I don’t care that you were out drinking all night and you left them in your buddy’s car! If you don’t have your tools, your no good to me, and you will be sent home.

#6. Don’t get an attitude when you show up for your first day of work with your shiny new tools and your journeyman tells you to put them away because your not yet ready to work with the tools. However, you better have them with you everyday, just in case.

#5. A broom will be the first tool that you will be required to master.

#4. I don’t care how deep in debt you are after you bought your tools. They are a requirement for your job. And I don’t owe you any overtime to help pay for them. By the way, I’ve lost or had stolen more tools than you’ve ever seen. So don’t waste two hours of my time looking for the screwdriver you misplaced. Use your spare screwdriver, which you better have with you. And buy yourself a replacement after work.

#3. Memorize how your journeyman likes his coffee. You will be sent for it often. That is part of your job, don’t ever screw it up!

#2. Your journeyman is always right.

And the number one rule for all new apprentices:

Don’t call your Journeyman an A**hole when he is within earshot!

(Cue Paul Schaefer and the band, and go to comercial......Now)

Anyone else have some words of wisdom for this young man?

[This message has been edited by Pearlfish (edited 11-07-2002).]

#16146 - 11/06/02 05:17 PM Re: Need Some Sound Advice...  
Electricmanscott  Offline
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
Holden, MA USA
Pearlfish thanks for reminding me why being an apprentice SUCKS. Quite frankly it is people with your attitude that drive people away from the trades. Just becuse someone is a helper does not make them any less of a person than you. Lighten up a little.

#16147 - 11/06/02 05:27 PM Re: Need Some Sound Advice...  
elektrikguy  Offline
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 132
I agree. The days of bullying the apprentices are gone. If you were smart you would be teaching that apprentice as much as possible so he can make your life easier. Unless you are afraid for your job? Time is money these days.

#16148 - 11/06/02 05:35 PM Re: Need Some Sound Advice...  
Tom  Offline
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 1,044
Shinnston, WV USA
Show up for work everyday unless you are really sick or have made previous arrangements. Keep in mind that you will be booted out of the program for absenteeism.

Be on time.

Your two most important tools are a pencil & your intelligence. Don't leave either one at home when you go to work.

Do not fall asleep at the safety meetings. This nap is for journeymen only. You do not know what the dangers are in this trade or on the jobsite, so when someone is trying to explain how to keep yourself safe, pay attention.

Get used to safety glasses and hard hats, their use is mandatory on most jobsites.

Buy a really good, comfortable pair of boots (steel toes), You are going to be on your feet a lot, treat them good.

Get a pair of pigskin gloves (calfskin is too stiff). These will protect your hands when pulling wire (you'll do a lot of this) and they are flexible enough to pick up small screws & parts.

Anytime you go out on a big job, expect to do a drug test on the first morning, so drink plenty of coffee with breakfast.

Make sure you get your share of scrap copper on the big jobs, this is how most apprentices around here make their car payment.

Welcome to the trade & good luck.


Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.

#16149 - 11/06/02 07:43 PM Re: Need Some Sound Advice...  
sparky66wv  Offline
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
West Virginia
Wow... I just bought $60 worth of hand tools as a "good luck" present for my new helper. He goes for his test on Tuesday. Man, I hope he passes...

I've offered him $8.00 per hour to start, with a raise to $10.00 as soon as he's convinced me that he's earned it. I let him work one day to get a taste of it and see if he wants to really do it. It was an ugly job, too, but he hung in there. His biggest complaint was that he didn't get to do enough, but I told him, as soon as he passes his test, and all in good time.

With a national shortage of 80,000 electricians, I feel lucky to get him.

Pearlfish, however, the humor of your post is noted and enjoyed! (Boy, I can relate!)

[Linked Image]

Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

#16150 - 11/06/02 09:31 PM Re: Need Some Sound Advice...  
go-go  Offline
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 42
Is $10 p/h the going rate for:
Just curious. thanks.

#16151 - 11/06/02 09:43 PM Re: Need Some Sound Advice...  
sparky66wv  Offline
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
West Virginia
That's what I'm offering for an apprentice, mostly residential, some "light" commercial work (nothing more than 240V, and 320A, some 120/208 Wye)...

$10 per hour was the most I was ever paid as a journeyman here, and $12.50 as a master, and that was commercial and industrial work... not counting subbing for other contractors as an EC...

Believe it or not, it's an attractive wage for this area, especially entry level.

For once, you guys envy me!

[Linked Image]

Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

#16152 - 11/07/02 01:23 AM Re: Need Some Sound Advice...  
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,223
SI,New Zealand
Wish I had had good advice like this, before I started my time.
Man,it's so hard to please some people.
[Linked Image]

#16153 - 11/07/02 02:08 AM Re: Need Some Sound Advice...  
Nick  Offline
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 599
Riverside, CA
I can't say enough good things about the IBEW apprenticeship. The information is there for you to soak up so take advantage.

I also thought, and still do, about getting an engineering degree. I have decided not to waste my time. As an IBEW JW you will make more than all but the most senior engineers. Here they start apprentices at about $12.50 per hr and JW scale varies from $27- $32 per hr plus all the benefits. With all the OT I generally get I haven't made less than $75K since I broke out. I don't believe engineers generally make that. Hopefully you are in a part of the country with a good work backlog. It is slow in a lot of places right now.

If you want to learn about the traditional union ways spend a little time here. Keep in mind a lot of the posters on this site are pretty hard core. But it is what you will deal with on any of the "big" jobs. Small jobs are less structured but should still follow the agreement.

Hours can range from a regular 40hr week to 7-12's. Day, swing or graveyard shifts. It took my wife some getting used to when I got on big OT jobs. You are gone all the time. Unless you take an over time call, all OT is voluntary. I always take all I can get my hands on. This is known as being an "overtime whore." You never know when the construction market is going to dry up, and it will from time to time, so I take it while I can get it. As an apprentice, if you are any good, you will hardly ever, if ever, be out of work during your apprenticeship. You are cheaper than JW's and will stay around longer as the jobs wind down. Apprentice books are usually clear when work is remotely good. Even if you do get layed off you go right out to someone else the next day. However, If work is slow in the area you should be prepared to be out of work for a couple of weeks or more. It's the nature of the business.
Good luck to you.

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