Trade School Experiences: What A Career in the Trades is Like, from an Experienced Electrician
What Are Electrician Jobs Like?
Trade school may sound like a pipeline to new construction or maintenance electrical work, but the truth is that trade school can open your life to many new opportunities after graduation. While new construction and maintenance are the bread and butter of the industry, there is a whole host of specialized electrician jobs available to trade school graduates.
We sat down with Sam — a leadman electrical machine builder — to discuss what his experience in the skilled trades has been like and how trade school set him up for success.
A day in the life of our leadman electrical machine builder is pretty straightforward. His shop works on specialized rail equipment, including control systems and computer systems as well as standard 120-480V systems on rail cars. Sam arrives in time to be on the floor at 6:00 AM for the safety update and morning briefing.
By 6:15, he is getting his team organized and ready for the day. Once he has ensured that they have the direction and supplies they need, he begins work on his first work order of the day. He will spend the rest of his 8-10 hour shift balancing these responsibilities — along with testing completed systems — and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sam loves the variety that this type of electrical work brings, and that he can work on systems that are much more complex than what he would typically see in other sectors of the industry. However, this can lead to some unique challenges that leave him grateful for his trade school experience.
Challenges to Overcome
Many of the challenges Sam faces are out of his hands. The supply chain is still recovering post-pandemic, and while the impact has eased, some logistical issues need to be worked around to remain productive while parts are shipped in. He will also encounter issues with the prints. While this is not a common occurrence, these issues can manifest themselves in many different ways. It can be as simple as a hole not being bored out to the correct diameter or as complicated as being completely reversed from the physical parts in front of him.
When an issue arises Sam has two main remedies at his disposal. The first is to fix it on the spot. In these situations, he can quickly fix whatever is not matching up to the print without spending too much time. As a general rule, if he estimates that the time needed to correct the issue will take an hour or longer, he can order a rework so his team can remain on task while it is fixed. He relishes the opportunity to help his team through these challenges as they are all able to learn along the way.
The Reward of a Job Well Done
Sam finds his work incredibly rewarding. He gets along with his employer and loves his shop. He enjoys the early start time as it allows him to work overtime (when necessary) while still being able to get home at a decent time. He is fascinated by the work and finds it more engaging than new construction or maintenance electrician jobs. Sam also takes a great deal of pride in feeling that both he and his team have done quality work.
He also takes a great deal of satisfaction in how his team operates. Given that he is the lead, the buck stops with him. He is proud of how his team communicates and troubleshoots to remain focused on a solution regardless of whatever challenges they may face. They have built a foundational respect for one another and work to teach each other, so they can all become better at their jobs.
The most important thing Sam has learned on the job is that respect brings opportunities. If you are respectful to your colleagues, admit when you need help and retain new information, you will have a long and successful career in the skilled trades.
Be Like Sam
If you want to be like Sam and enjoy working in the exciting electrical field, or if you simply want to learn more about what life is like in the skilled trades, Explore The Trades is here for you! No matter if you are a recent high school graduate or looking for a career change, we have the resources to help get you started.
Reach out today for more information!