I would like to become and electrician and would love to get the opinions of people like you who are already electricians. I already tried Google and other searches but there seems to be no definitive path.
I'm a 27 year old male in Dallas Texas who has always been fascinated with electronics and electricity in general. Since I was old enough to walk I have been tearing apart old electronics and mechanical devices to see how they work, what they do and how to put them back together. I'm extremely mechanically inclined however for some reason, pursued a career in financial services. I'm currently in the mortgage business however I am really burned out after 8 years doing it. Would love to start to start a new trade and get out of Financial Services altogether. At this point, I'd rather enjoy my job rather than always trying to make more money. When you hate what you do for 9 hours a day, the money means nothing anyways.
I have no formal electrical education in this field however I am extremely intelligent and would easily and happily attend whatever type of courses necessary to become a professional in this trade. I tried searching for specialized trade schools in Dallas and found quite a few however not sure if they are even required. I know in my business for example people try to get in the door with financial degrees however with mortgage, the degree means very little and there is no licensing requirement (for operations at least) so experience in the field is all you really need to land a solid job. You just have to fight your way in the door somewhere and prove yourself. I know as an electrician you must be licensed however I have no idea what it takes to get there. Again I tried google however everything I found seemed way too vague and specific to the geography of the area. If I call the local schools they will just tell me whatever it takes to get me to enroll at their schools, whether I need it or not.
So basically, starting from zero, what would you recommend I do to get on track to get into this industry? I'm not in any rush so I would like to take evening or weekend classes somewhere and then perhaps do a part time internship. Do I acquire some type of degree (and if so, what type of degree) and then do some type of apprenticeship? Then is it just a matter of getting hired on by a reputable company or are most electricians owner/operators? I would appreciate any advice you can give me.
You can start with VoTech courses or you might even be able to start working right away for a contractor, doing "go fer" jobs as you learn. In either case it takes time on the job to really learn the trade. The latter is not as likely these days when there are experienced electricians mowing lawns to get by. Each state has different procedures for certification and some don't really certify trades at all. Look at the Texas licensing web site to see what they do there and you probably have local licensing/certification too.
One thing that can get you used to working with the code is to go back through the archives of this site and other similar sites, looking up the code references for each discussion. If you get to the point that you can quickly find and understand the code citations you are a long way toward passing the tests. The actual "trade" part of the job can really only be learned by doing it under supervision of an experienced tradesman. Book learning and schools only take you so far.
Last edited by gfretwell; 04/05/1003:15 AM. Reason: political correctness
Ah,to be green again, one could only wish. I came up through the trade, so to speak, started working as maintainence in a factory, progressed to electrician. In a factory one does not need to be licensed to do electrical work(in Georgia anyway) so this was an excelent starting point for me. We ran conduit, pulled wire, did troubleshooting and such, not only did we work on single phase 120v circuits, but also got experience on 3 phase 575v stuff as well. Now the bad news, I was still not eligable for a georgia license, because one is required to have contractor(licensed) supervised experience in comercial and residential fields to obtain an unrestricted license in Ga. I put that residential time in the hard way pulling romex and driving staples with the rest of the wet behind the ears crowd. Put up with all the jokes, go get the wire stretcher, bring me a box of amps from the supply house, and so on, wouldnt trade it for the world. Now I own and run a business with a partner, and proud to say we are still here even with the crummy economy. There are other ways to get here my partner took the trade school route, got his license quicker than I did but waited longer before making the leap out on his own, how ever you do it do not let the low ballers pull you down to thier level, do not cut quality or workmanship just to get the lowest price. Someone looking for the lowest price will not know quality work if you drop it on them. Good luck however you go after it.
First off, mate, welcome to ECN. Enjoy your stay here and please use this site as much as possible, there are some terrific resources here for people such as yourself. One example would be the Tech Reference Area, Scott35 has done a brilliant job of getting all of the technical diagrams and what-not in one simple area.
Please, don't ever be afraid to ask questions, the dumbest question is the one that is never asked at all.
OK, On to your original question. Most of us here have been through some sort of an apprenticeship, getting one in the first place was one of the hardest things I have done, to be honest. At the age of 27, you are still young, but considering that you come from a background of banking,(unless you are doing so at the moment), I would recommend that you get some real exercise, bending and stretching. Pulling muscles and ligaments on your first day would not be a good look at all.
Jimmy (wire-twister) makes a very under-stated point in his post. Don't do your time with an electrical shark, at the end of the day, you are only as good as your practical skills taught to you.
If the guy that teaches you is rough in his "workmanship", that will rub off on you as well. It's strange how this happens, but as an apprentice, you often don't know any better or don't have the priviledge of being able to argue the point.
I'm sure most of us picked up the odd bad habit from those that trained us, but we only found out that these things were wrong, after the end of our time, when we were exposed to the wants and needs of an Inspector.
I wish you the best of luck, mate, if you want to take a leap like this, all the best.
Learn all you can, to some "electricians", it's just a pay check, the folks that participate in this Forum are always trying to improve themselves. I remember an elderly electrician told me once always try and be the most technically correct tradesman that you can ever be, anything less, get your gloves on to start washing dishes
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green
#193583 - 04/08/1006:52 PMRe: Need some advice from current electricians...
In Texas you don't call the IBEW, you go to the state, give them 20 bucks and register as an apprentice with the licensing board. I assume the contractor would walk you through the process but he might be quicker to hire you if you already had the card.