Skill Level Intermediate
- So there's many different types of electrical workers, there's those that work on the very high-voltage power lines, distribution. There's those that work on low-voltage communication systems such as telephone and data. There are those that work in small-scale projects like residential applications. And then there's also those that work at commercial industrial settings, so they're building the hospitals and the schools and airports that we use. - I had always dreamed of being an electrical engineer. I didn't have the resources to go to college to make that happen at the time. I was young and it just clicked, I was like, you know what, I'm going to be an electrician. So I pursued it, and here I am 25 years later. - I had become an apprentice and (chuckles) you know, looking at what his future was going to be, and the wages that he was making and what he was talking about with his job that he did everyday, he came home excited and interested and all that. And I said, I think I have to do that. - You know, one thing is it's such a great trade to be in, because the technology nowadays is changing so rapidly. And that technology, it doesn't work us out of a job, it just continues our education in the job. We're always having to learn and keep up with what's new out there. - You know, the electrical trade is a huge industry. It's wide open, there's dozens and dozens of different jobs that an electrician could do and does do. In our area, we focus on three different aspects to the trade, and that's what we would call a residential, somebody's who focused on working on houses and dwelling units, places where people live and spend a lot of their time there. We also have a broader electrician who tries to do it all and could be thrown into whatever situation. Most of those electricians, we call them inside electricians, they're somebody who would be able to do anything in any situation, whether it's an industrial setting, or a manufacturer, or even occasionally making service calls to somebody's home like a residential electrician would. - [Laura] Technology's changed a lot recently, and how that's benefited us is the cost of the technology. It decreases the faster it changes. And people, with this decreasing cost, people are more willing to install new high-tech, kind of fancy ways of doing things. - So I would say the thing that's changed the most about the electrical industry over the last hundred years is actually the tools that we have for safety. Some of those don't look like tools. Some of those, it's the installation on the wire. Some of those, it's the idea of putting things in. You can see all the metal boxes around me, putting things in fireproof boxes. - Obviously, electricity is our major hazard, because it's the most dangerous. You can't see it, you can't smell it. So you're learning the safety component of working with electricity. And our goal is to never lose an electrician out there. Working out in the field as a journeyman electrician can be challenging as well, it's not always fun. Sometimes we're in really dirty environments, at steel mills, we're out exposed to the weather and the ice and the snow. Or we're out up on a rooftop in the middle of the summer, where it's twice as hot as it is when we're on the ground. So really, the physical aspects of the job, I think, are the most challenging. There's so many great things about being an electrician. Number one, I have this skill that not a lot of other people have. And I can take that skill wherever I want to go. It's also allowed me to diversify in my career. You know, electrician, to me, is just kind of the first thing you can do. It opens up a whole other set of career opportunities that start with being an electrician. So you can move forward and work as an inspector. You can work as a supervisor, foreman, general foreman, an estimator. We've had a lot of people, our former students, who've opened up their own electrical contractor firm. So they've gone into the business. The type of person suited for the electrical trade, I think, number one, they have to be somebody who really likes to pay attention to detail, because there are so many aspects to our trade where, if you miss an item, it could cost thousands of dollars. Also, with the safety aspect of the trade, doing something incorrectly can cost someone their life or property with fire, that's a huge consideration with every one of our installations. - When you are able to help somebody with it, and bring to light some of the things that they might not have known about it, there's a huge amount of pride in there, in knowing. The work itself is very rewarding. You're physical, you're moving around, you're doing things with your hands, you're thinking about what you're doing. It's a necessity now. I'm working here, I'm working near my home. If I wanted to move my family around the country, I could do that. Because wherever I go, they need that electricity. I like the Pacific Northwest. And so, they need electricity here. And so, I'm here, I've got a job that I can do for the rest of my life. I'll always be needed, I'll always be useful.