Harold De Loach
As our industry continues to be plagued with skilled labor shortages, always make yourself stand out by learning more than you are required to.

How to Become the Best Electrician You Can Be

Feb. 10, 2022
Inside tips from the field on what electrical employers expect from new apprentices

Surviving the first few weeks on the job as a new electrical apprentice is quite an accomplishment, but there’s still so much to learn. In a few of my past columns, I went over etiquette for electrical apprentices and survival skills for new electrical hires to help electrical apprentices adopt best practices for future success. Now let’s take a closer look at a few things that differentiate a good hire from a great hire.

Go from ‘good’ to ‘great’

Good journeymen/women can transition the electrical plan to a finished product by the proposed finish date. They can take the electrical drawing provided by the customer or the boss and layout or supervise the installation of the lighting system, heating and cooling equipment, and all the power distribution components.

They also understand the basics of the National Electrical Code (NEC) and can navigate the routine chapters and sections. Good journeymen/women also show up on time, every day, without fail, even when materials don't show up for the day. They also make sure the gang box is locked and secured by 3 p.m. — every day, on time.

Go from ‘great’ to a ‘master’

Great journeymen/women have a dynamic skill set; they are an invaluable asset in the field and at the office. They have the technical knowledge to analyze blueprints. They can assess and articulate the customer's present and future needs by using excellent interviewing skills. When necessary, they can improvise by making technical adjustments based on exceptions from the NEC, and make logistical adjustments as changes occur to the plan as the project grows and develops.

They are not blindsided by things "not taken into consideration" during a project’s planning stage, using Chapter 2 of the NEC as their guide. Great journeymen/women are well aware of all the resources at their disposal and can “fairly” and “firmly” negotiate change orders caused by the customer. They understand that an essential element of judgment is proper planning and basing technical decisions on facts. They have learned from Art. 90 that improper planning can lead to electrical overloads, which leads to fires. And they often stay late in the office to ensure that the next day is adequately planned, which helps keep the project moving ahead of schedule.

Don’t be one-dimensional

A skilled electrician reads blueprints and understands the calculations required to size each feeder and branch circuit following local and national rules. An experienced electrician also can select the proper materials for the job.

Don't get so lost in the day-to-day activities of life and work that you allow yourself to fall into a rut, doing the same basic job site tasks over and over. This industry favors and rewards electricians who can design a project from scratch.

Bring more value to the job site and your company. This will help you become a problem-solver and trusted advisor.

As our industry continues to be plagued with skilled labor shortages, always make yourself stand out by learning more than you are required to. Remember to plan your career as you go. You will be presented with unique and different challenges along your journey. Make sure your tool arsenal includes one of the best investments you can make — yourself.

Harold De Loach, a master electrician and electrical trainer/instructor, is the founder of The Academy of Industrial Arts (www.taia-school.com) in Philadelphia. With more than 30 years of experience in the field, he writes regular exclusive content for the E-Train and can be reached at [email protected].

About the Author

Harold De Loach

De Loach is the Director of Education and Training for the Leaders of Electrical License Preparation courses for Philadelphia and The Lehigh Valley (www.necprepclass.com). He is the founder and Director of The Academy of Industrial Arts L.L.C. (www.taia-school.com), a customized electrician training program that provides entry-level electrician training courses, electrical safety classes and customized electrical construction courses. He is trained by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). He is a member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Independent Association of Electrical Inspectors, the Electrical Association of Philadelphia, and the Better Business Bureau. 

His level of knowledge affords him to teach entry, intermediate, and master level electricians. Armed with more than 20 years of experience in the electrical, general construction, and real estate development industry, he offers his students and clients several unique skill sets. He has worked as the Head Craft Instructor and Assistant Director of Education at the Apprenticeship Training Center (affectionately known as The ABC School) in Harleysville Pennsylvania for Associated Builders and Contractors (The South-Eastern Pa. Chapter). Prior to Joining ABC, he directed a work-readiness (Re-Entry) Construction Technology program within The Philadelphia Prison System and as an Electrical Technician Program instructor at Kaplan Career Institute (Formerly Thompson institute) in Center City Philadelphia and Franklin Mills. He is available for consultation, private tutoring, speaking engagements,  or strategic partnerships that can bolster the number of new electricians entering the industry. 

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