Eric Clayton, of CR Electric in Girard, tested into journeyman electrician after 15,000 hours of work.

Journeyman electrician finds power in unconventional path to career success

Sometimes the plan to reach a goal happens in an unexpected way, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the success is any less sweet. For Eric Clayton, persistence and the will to do what he loves have gone a long way to becoming a journeyman electrician.

He’s been in the trade for eight years, currently works for CR Electric in Girard and is a member of IBEW Local 573. However, it’s been hard work up to this point.

Taking an alternative route

“I never did the apprenticeship program. I wanted to, but it just didn’t work out. Then, I had kids and didn’t have the time to dedicate to it. So, I took the longer route as a CW and worked my way up,” Clayton said.

Eric Clayton, of CR Electric in Girard, tested into journeyman electrician after 15,000 hours of work.
Eric Clayton completed 15,000 work hours and passed the test to become a journeyman electrician.

His path to the trade was carved by the Northern Ohio Regional Agreement (NORA), an alternate path becoming a union electrician.

His interest in the trade started because of a friend who’s a union electrician in Pittsburgh.

“He would show me some stuff here and there, and I thought it was something I could do, so I decided to do it for a living.”

Clayton grew up near Cleveland but has been in the Mahoning Valley for the last 10 years. At one point, he lived in Hawaii for five years and was a chef at an Italian restaurant.

“I didn’t want to be a chef back here. I was burned out from cooking. It’s long hours, and I just needed something new,” he said.

It took Clayton seven years to reach 15,000 hours of electrical work before he tested out to become a journeyman.

“There’s a hands-on portion and a three-hour written test. It’s pretty extensive.”

Growing project list

There have been plenty of projects keeping Clayton busy over the years. He’s done electrical work at North Mar Church in Warren and the new Five Below store in Youngstown.

Most notably, he worked on the electrical build-out at Raphael’s Schools of Beauty Culture in Niles, Cleveland, Willoughby, North Olmstead and Alliance. Recently, he’s been finishing up the massage school for the Boardman location on Route 224.

“I, personally, do them all by myself. I’ve been on-site for Raphael’s alone for about five years.”

Work wrapping up on new banquet area for Kabob House.

The massage school is in the back of the building with Kabob House and new banquet area, along with Summitville Tiles. Clayton has been working on that complex off-and-on for about three years.

“I did have some help installing the outside service panels for the whole building.”

Clayton helped install new service panels and disconnects for building.

Electrical career benefits

He’s happy he chose to be a union electrician and enjoys the job security that comes with it.

“It’s the brotherhood, you’re a well-trained professional, it means benefits for my wife and kids and there’s a pension. I’ve never not known union,” Clayton said.

He ruled out starting his own business and plans to stay with CR Electric for the foreseeable future. Clayton encourages anyone that’s curious about the electrical field to not let anything get it the way.

“My route wasn’t conventional, not a lot of people do it, but it was the route I had to take to get where I am today.”

CR Electric is a member contractor of NECA-IBEW Electricians, an association of IBEW Local 64 in Youngstown, IBEW Local 573 in Warren and signatory electrical contractors throughout the Mahoning Valley.