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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone, I'm new here, but have a question for you.....

I've been a mechanic for 20 years now, and I am just plain tired of it.... I went to college to be a mechanic, and it was fun for a while, but I am ready to do something different...
The first thing that comes to mind for me, is I would like to be an electrician.... what I am wondering is, how much schooling do I have to take, if any ? Or can you be an apprentice for someone for a while ?
Let's say down the road, I would like to start my own little business as an elctrician... what do I need to have for a license or what to do that... I assume it takes 5 to 7 years before that is possible, but I really know nothing about it.....

Any help would be great guys........ Also, what I could expect for a salary just starting off being an electrician ? I suppose it all depends where a guy gets a job, but I'm just looking for a ballpark figure..... $15 ?????

I live in Wisconsin, if that helps at all..... not sure if wages vary from one state to another....
 

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Lic Electrical Inspector
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1,843 Posts
Hey everyone, I'm new here, but have a question for you.....

I've been a mechanic for 20 years now, and I am just plain tired of it.... I went to college to be a mechanic, and it was fun for a while, but I am ready to do something different...
The first thing that comes to mind for me, is I would like to be an electrician.... what I am wondering is, how much schooling do I have to take, if any ? Or can you be an apprentice for someone for a while ?
Let's say down the road, I would like to start my own little business as an elctrician... what do I need to have for a license or what to do that... I assume it takes 5 to 7 years before that is possible, but I really know nothing about it.....

Any help would be great guys........ Also, what I could expect for a salary just starting off being an electrician ? I suppose it all depends where a guy gets a job, but I'm just looking for a ballpark figure..... $15 ?????

I live in Wisconsin, if that helps at all..... not sure if wages vary from one state to another....
Talk to a few local contractors. Attend a few IAEI meetings. Follow this link. Good luck!
 

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Licensed Electrical Cont.
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Figure a minimum of 5 years to know anything. IMO ten years to know enough to start your own business.

Starting salary could be anywhere from $7 to $15, maybe more in metro areas.
In your area I bet $10/hr is a lot for a green helper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
ok, thanks for the input guys..... I will ask around my area to see what the going rate for a greenhorn is....
 

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Master Electrician
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We get paid to do this ??? :confused1:
 

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Too Short? Cut it Again!
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We get paid to do this ??? :confused1:
Yes you do and I believe I have put some of your kids through college if you are near my age!

Anyhow, counsel to the OP. Never switch or even start pursuing a career with the money dangling at the end of the stick as the incentive. And don't get sucked into the crappy assed chants of "Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow!" Horse puckey. But find some middle ground that makes life tolerable.

And if you can, be proud of what you do or did at the end of the day. At least as few people or critters in the process of the day is my motto. I have found paint a fairly safe building material in this regard.
 

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Let me say this. I'm an engineer, and the job that I've had was getting kind of slow. I was enjoying the project I have been working on to wire a subpanel in my detatched garage and do a new service entrance for my house. I was thinking about becoming an electrician if I was out of work again and having a hard time finding another job again.

By way of background, I've been in engineering around 11 years now. Just under 5 years ago, Michigan's economic downturn started and I was looking for a job for the 3rd time in my career. The previous 2 job searches went fast - I got a job within 3 weeks from the first posting of my resume to my first day of work off of my 3rd interview. In 2006 it was different. After 4 months of searching I had no offers locally, I was averaging about 1 interview per month. Child #2 was on the way at the time I started looking, so having run out of money and credit I expanded my job search to non-local jobs and got one within 3 weeks.

Point being, I try to be humble, but I've never had difficulty getting an engineering job but for the economic situation...

Last year, we decided to leave my out of state job and move back to Michigan... We were financially in a position to manage without my income and without resorting to credit. So we moved back and I got a job in Michigan after a couple months - quite frankly I expected it to take longer.

Back to the present. Ironically, I had my first rough inspection on my project before Memorial day. Mind you, I'd done the work myself and unlike an apprentice, I didn't have anyone to check my work until that rough inspection.

Besides the first few things I did wrong, I learned a couple of things: 1) There's a lot more to the job of an electrician than you'd think, even if you've done a lot of DIY wiring work (in other words, I have a much greater appreciation for the pros) and 2) I'm not planning to consider it as a fall-back career option.

My original materials cost for this project was just under $1000. I haven't added up what I've spent fixing that over the course of 5 rough inspections, but I'm sure it was at least another $500. By the time I had my second rough inspection I had been notified at 4 PM of that day that the Tuesday after Memorial day was my last day. Today with my 5th reinspection I passed... As it happens, it was the first inspection I had after accepting a new engineering job. I wouldn't be suprised if my material costs on the job added up to $2000.

Putting my project in perspective: Considering I've heard a typical 200A service upgrade costs $2500, it seems that the material cost must be more than half that cost. I've been working on this since Easter to today. That makes it about 2 months. To be an electrician I'd have to do what took me about 2 months in probably 1 or 2 days...

Then you have to consider what you've thought of the cost of hiring an electrician... This is the attitude of the customers you'd be working for, and the kind of thing that can make getting the pay you've earned become a challenge.

Let me wrap this up like this: It sounds to me like you want to switch careers because you want something more interesting... I was thinking about the same possibility and going through my own project really gave me more insight into what I was considering.
 

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Master Electrician
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Not to highjack the thread….

Thanks Will for the greater appreciation of the pros. At times it does take an in depth project like you took on for those not involved in the trade to really realize what we go through every day. Sure we can rip a project out in a day or two, but we didn’t get that efficient overnight. A lot of training and time went into it.

I wish some people that think we are ‘too high priced’ could have been at your side during your project to see what the challenges really are. It would have given them an insight to our job, and hopefully an appreciation of our talents.

I commend you Will for taking on your project, and I’m glad it’s coming out well for you.

To the OP, yes it’s a rewarding career if you make it so, but it takes time, and the grass isn’t always greener. If you do it….do it because you want to, it’ll be worth it. If you’re looking to do it for the money only….become a banker.
 

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SD 515 is spot on.
If you love doing it , then what you are getting paid is not as important.
If you can wake up on a Monday morning and not be depressed because you have to go to work, then it is the right career for you.
 
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