Career Story: Journeyman Electrician

Journeyman Electrician

Job Title: Electrician

Type of Company: I work for a company which services traffic signals and does other forms of roadway electrical maintenance.

Education: diploma, Journeyman Wireman, Boston (MA) Electrical Joint Apprentice and Training Committee

Previous Experience: I worked doing odds and ends for the company and then applied to the electrical school, took a test and failed, re-took the test the following year, passed, completed all five years of the electrical school and became employed as a journeyman electrician.

Job Tasks: I help to maintain, update and repair traffic signals in municipalities that employ my company. For example, today I repainted a walk signal and repaired some damaged wires inside the walk screen. After that I drove 30 minutes to another city and repaired a few traffic signals that were functioning incorrectly (blinking yellow only). Finally I joined a few other employees in another city to work on wiring a building being constructed for a new business.

Normally, I'm "on-call" twice per week. Being "on-call" means that whenever I get a call about a traffic signal malfunctioning I have to go fix it, no matter what time it is. I often get calls in the middle of the night and it's not unusual for me to get fewer than 3 hours of sleep.

When I'm not re-wiring signals, I also do construction work. There are at least three days per week that I have to "cut loops": cutting into the ground with a huge machine to get to the wires underground. Then I have to seal up the trenches I've cut with new gravel. If I work in a building, school or house I usually have to cut into the walls to run wires and, unlike most electricians, I actually repair the holes I've made when I am finished.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The worst part of my job is working on a rainy, cold, hot or snowy day. I work outdoors mostly because our biggest focus is on traffic lights. When it is extremely hot or cold it certainly takes a toll on my body.

The best part of my job is simply being an electrician. There are always electrical jobs needed outside of my company work, so if my family needs extra money it's not hard to make it.

Job Tips: Focus hard in school because it is easy to fall behind. Complete at least the 5 years of electrical school to become a journeyman because you will have a lot more opportunities than those who just complete 2 years. Try to gain knowledge in many fields of electrical work. My company focuses largely on traffic lights so I had to gain knowledge in wiring houses and other places outside of my primary job.

Additional Thoughts: Be very careful when working with wires. Safety precautions are often overlooked when you become comfortable with your job and that's when accidents can happen.

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