The electrician I job-shadowed is named Franco and he is originally from Italy. He has a fairly unique story and has always had a love for electronics. When he was around six years old he used to play with the outlets in his house. This is dangerous, and even more in Italy since their voltage is 220 volts versus our 120 volts. He was fascinated by electricity and he said he used to jam anything made of metal in the outlets (bad kid…). Franco continued to be passionate about electricity and got a degree as an electronic technician. He then moved here from Italy and after a bunch of years working here he just had to write an exam—although this is not a typical path to becoming an electrician. This passion and curiosity fuels his work day in and day out; however, since he loves playing and problem-solving with electricity, he really dislikes using manuals and instructions.
The day I watched Franco, he installed a chandelier, which seemed more technical than I anticipated, with all the little parts and crystals. The chandelier came with instructions for installation, but Franco loves the challenge so he tried to install it without the instructions. Even though it took him a while, he did it, which is pretty impressive because the instructions looked very technical. He was also finishing up wiring an older home which required some detective-like work to find the pathway of the wires.
Although he does a lot of installations, the majority of Franco’s work is wiring, and when he does this he is all over the house. He uses walkie-talkies with a partner and climbs up into attics, crawl spaces, and everywhere else. It looks physically exhausting—and during all this he is working out the problems mentally as well.
A Typical Day
Franco, the electrician I shadowed, sees around 2-3 clients a day. He installs electrical wiring, lights, outlets and other electrical devices as well as configuring and maintaining electrical systems.
Top 3 Perks
1) It’s rewarding to solve seemingly impossible problems
2) Mental and physical work
3) Job autonomy
Indoors and outdoors, on ladders, lots of physical work, problem-solving, face-to-face discussions with clients, installations, maintenance, working occasional weekends or evenings.
1) Complete a 4- to 5-year apprenticeship which includes on-the-job training and class study.
2) Become a journeyman electrician by passing an exam.
Problem-solving, physical strength, good with hands, patience, open-mindedness, technical skills, good eyesight, math skills.
- Electrical regulations change very often, which can be frustrating.
- The field is shrinking and Franco says he definitely has more business due to there being few electricians.