Iowa Electrical Apprenticeship

Sioux City JATC

What Is An Electrical Apprentice?

The electrical apprenticeship program combines on-the-job training (OJT) with classroom instruction to train individuals to become skilled electricians.  OJT is provided through paid work in the field on construction sites, supervised by journeyman electricians.  Classroom training is provided by the Iowa Electrical Apprenticeship and Educational Trust in Clive, IA, a suburb of Des Moines.  The apprenticeship is a five-year program.  The educational Trust pays all costs and expenses for the training, except for books.  Plus, the apprentice will earn over $150, 000 during his/her training while learning a trade that cannot be sent overseas or replaced by a machine.  After completing all of the program requirements, the apprentice becomes a journeyman electrician.

Apprentices work on the job sites during the day, except when they are attending school.  School consists of attending class in Clive, IA one week at a time (M-F), four times per year for each of the five years.  Homework assignments are expected to be completed on time by the apprentice.  The school year follows the normal academic year of September – May and apprentices are off during the summers.

Apprentices are assigned to employers.  Work is usually performed in the Sioux City area, but may occasionally be in the surrounding counties of northwest Iowa, southeast South Dakota, or northeast Nebraska.  Apprentices must be able to work anywhere in the local region.

The apprenticeship program is developed and administrated by the apprenticeship committee.  The program is also approved by the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) and is registered with the Department of Labor.  After completing the program, apprentices are issued Certificates of Completion.  Additionally, the apprentice is only a few credits short of an Associates Degree.

An Apprenticeship is an excellent way to learn a skilled trade because the apprentice learns the technical and theory-based principles in the classroom while learning the hands–on skills and practical aspects of the trade in the field…all under the direction of trained instructors and journeyman electricians.

What Does The Electrical Apprenticeship Pay?

In Sioux City, Apprentices start out at 40% of the journeyman electrician wage. There are six levels of apprenticeship. As of June 1, 2008 pay will be as follows:

  • Level 1 (0-6 months) $10.62/hour plus family-coverage health insurance.
  • Level 2 (6-12 months) $11.95/hour plus family health insurance, pension and vacation.
  • Level 3 (1-2 years) $14.61/hour plus family health insurance, pension and vacation.
  • Level 4 (2-3 years) $15.94/hour plus family health insurance, pension and vacation.
  • Level 5 (3-4 years) $17.26/hour plus family health insurance, pension and vacation.
  • Level 6 (4-5 years) $19.92/hour plus family health insurance, pension and vacation.

Journeyman electricians wage will be $26.56/hour plus family health insurance, pension, and vacation.  The total wage and benefit package for an electrician will be over $73,000 per year.

What Are The Requirements For The Electrical Apprenticeship Program?

To be accepted into the electrical apprenticeship, all applicants must have the following:

  • Valid driver’s license
  • Reliable transportation
  • High School diploma or a GED
  • Ability to read, write and speak the English language
  • Be a minimum of 18 years old (can apply at age 17, but must be 18 to start the program)
  • Good math skills.  Applicants must have received a passing grade in one full year of high school algebra or a semester of college algebra.  If the applicant does not meet this requirement, he can complete the online Tech Math course offered through the NJATC.  Go to www.njatc.org, point to the “NJATC Training” tab, click on “Online Training”, and select the “Tech Math” course.
  • All applicants are required to take the NJATC Aptitude Test.  This test determines the applicant’s basic math and reading comprehension skills.  Applicants must receive a score of “4” or higher to advance on to the oral interview.
  • Drug and alcohol screening are required of all selected apprentices before they start work.  Additionally, random drug screening is possible.  There is no room for drugs or alcohol in the construction industry.

What Is Construction Work Like?

For people who like to work with their hands or those who love seeing their work as a finished project, the construction trade is very rewarding.  Electricians are paid well and receive good benefits.  However, the work can be physically demanding.  Workers often carry heavy loads, lift and move equipment and machinery, climb ladders, work at great heights, crawl on their knees or into tight spaces, and walk across unstable surfaces.  It also involves the use of tools and machinery that can cause serious or fatal injuries when not operated safely and properly.

Often, construction work is performed outdoors.  Unsheltered work sites can be hot in the summer, cold or wet at other times of the year.  Electricians must like to be outdoors and should have clothing that protects them from the elements.  During the summer, contractors may take advantage of the extended daylight hours and warm weather by working longer hours.  Shifts can be as long as 12 hours per day and/or seven days per week at times.

Apprentices just starting out will not possess the skills or knowledge needed to do most of the work, but that’s okay.  As time on the job and training progress, an apprentice will be expected to advance his/her abilities and must be able to perform a greater variety of tasks with little supervision.

How Do I Know If The Apprenticeship Is For Me?

The electrical apprenticeship is not for everyone.  Electricians must like to work with their hands, must like to be outdoors (rather than sitting at a desk), must like challenges and be able to solve problems, and must be in fairly good shape.

The electrical field is a fun, challenging and satisfying career.  Electricians are professionals who must like to work on their own with little or no direction.  When given a job to do, the electrician will be expected to be able to lay out work for others, read blueprints and specification books, plan ahead, order material, work independently or in large groups, have good people skills when working with the customer, install equipment in a safe manner, follow electrical codes, connect controls and troubleshoot a variety of electrical problems.

The electrical apprenticeship is a great way to get a good education at very little cost, while earning good pay along the way.  Where else can you “Earn While You Learn?”  And where else can you get a great job that pays more than most jobs that require a college degree, without spending $80,000.00 or more to get an education?

Are There Many Job Opportunities In The Electrical Field?

Construction jobs can vary, depending upon the economy, area of the country, weather, etc.  However, construction jobs are predicted to be in high demand for the next 10 to 20 years at least.  Fewer young people are entering the trades, many of the Baby-Boomers are starting to retire, and work will be busy.  Now is the perfect time to be thinking about a job in the construction trades.  Electricians will especially be in high demand because electrical usage is expected to double in the next seven years.  This means more wiring must be installed to handle all of this increase.

Also, once a person has reached journeyman status, there are over 50 different careers that an electrician can go into with little or no additional training.  Besides being a construction electrician, a journeyman can become a maintenance electrician, service tech, job estimator, project manager, foreman electrician, an instructor or plant engineer.  Many other careers are available as well.

 

 

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