(Part 5): 12 Reasons to Become a Union Electrician: Work With Your Hands, No Student Loan Debt


A career in the union electrical trades is ideal for someone who likes to work with their hands and is not tied to a desk and cubicle.

Next is our series of reasons to consider a career in the electrical trade we appeal to those who like to work with their hands – and we don’t mean sitting in a cubicle – as well as those who don’t want to be saddled with a decade or more of student loan payments.

Working with your hands

The union electrical JATC apprenticeship programs are designed to provide hands-on training and education in every sense of the word. The curriculum lasts three years for the residential program and five for commercial, and includes a blend of on-the-job training and classroom instruction.

Electrician apprentices learn all aspects of the trade, using the latest equipment and tools while working with many types of electrical machinery, control devices, industrial equipment and data systems.

The best candidates are eager to learn, enjoy working with their hands, and possess a modest amount of physical strength and agility. Candidates should also be willing to work in all types of weather, as some of the work is performed outdoors.

Working with your hands provides the type internal satisfaction that only comes from seeing a job through from start to finish, and brings a level of pride. Fixing things, building things, seeing the actual, physical fruit of your labor can be more personally fulfilling than spending the day in front a computer.

No student loan debt

Earning a college education is great; until you graduate and the student loan bills start piling up. Since 1990, college tuition costs have risen over 300 percent, far outpacing the growth of the economy. It’s not uncommon for college grads to enter the working world with more $30,000 in student loan debt – that’s a $300 a month payment for a decade!

A career as an electrician can be equally or even more valuable – and less costly. Fee structures within the local union apprentice programs are under $1,000 per year.

“Electrician apprentices completing our 5-year commercial program do not accrue student loan debt and are being placed in jobs with local contractors as journeymen with first-year pay in the range of $50,000 and excellent benefits,” said Eric Davis, Warren Area Electrical JATC training director.

The truth is, college isn’t for everyone. What if, instead of paying thousands of dollars each year in tuition, you could get paid to work and learn skills that would allow you to work with your hands and build a life-long career? If that sounds appealing, a rewarding career as a union electrician could be the choice for you.

Applications are taken year-round at both the Warren and Youngstown Area Electrical JATCs. Visit their websites or hear directly from recent apprentices here.