The IBEW represents workers in the electrical industry including construction, gas and electric utilities, telecommunications, railroads and government agencies. Construction and residential electricians work in all phases of the electrical construction and service industry. Their worksite ranges from single-family residences to state-of-the-art industrial plants. Inside wire workers may install and maintain conduits, switches and converters, as well as wire lighting, to complex systems incorporating computerization and high technology. Electricians work in the electric sign industry and increasingly perform more work in the installation of fiber optics and voice/data/video equipment. IBEW electricians participate in a five-year apprentice program.
There are four specialty areas where you will find electrical workers. These four areas are best described by the type of work done in each of those areas.
Outside Linemen are the electrical workers who install the distribution and transmission lines that move power from power plant to a factory, a business, or your home.
Inside Wiremen are electrical workers who install the power, lighting, controls and other electrical equipment in commercial and industrial buildings.
VDV Installer Technicians are electrical workers who install circuits and equipment for telephones, computer networks, video distribution systems, security and access control systems and other low voltage systems.
Residential Wiremen are electrical workers who specialize in installing all of the electrical systems in single-family and multi-family houses or dwellings.
Each of the four types of electrical work (inside Wireman, Outside Lineman, Installer Technician and Residential Wireman) share common skills and knowledge. Each also has other skills and knowledge, which are specific to that particular area of work. Because of these differences, each type of work has a different apprenticeship program associated with it. Apprentices receive their training through the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee of NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association) and IBEW. It's a model education partnership which produces the best-trained, most up-to-date electrical apprentices and journeymen in the country. In addition to receiving skill training on the job, apprentices are provided trade related classroom training that produces competency and pride which lead to true craftsmanship. Quite often some local training committees provide special classes with hands-on training to support classroom lectures and discussions.
You earn while you learn the trade. Union journeymen Electrical Workers wages and fringe benefits are negotiated on their behalf by the union through collective bargaining with signatory contractors. Some apprenticeship programs partner with community colleges to offer college credit for apprenticeship classes.
Wages vary according to the geographic location of the local union. The average starting wage for 1st year apprentices is 40 - 50% of the Journeyman's wage rate plus fringe benefits. Your earnings are adjusted annually to reflect your advancing skills and increasing knowledge of the trade.
Electricians can specialize as a Lineman, an Inside Wireman, an Installer/Technician, or a Residential Wireman. Joumeymen Linemen erect and maintain power lines, climb power poles, and work on communication lines. It's highly skilled work that requires a great deal of concentration, skill and knowledge. Demand for this type of work will never go "out of style"... as long as folks use electricity. Joumeymen Wireman wire the industrial plants and factories, the warehouses, the office buildings, the shopping centers small and large... when something goes wrong with the electrical system in such facilities, journeyman wiremen are the ones who are called. Residential Wiremen are responsible for the repair and upgrade work in residential structures. With 90 million single family homes in the U.S., demand just for the repair/upgrade work will never cease. What's more, as more and more people buy computers, and buy items with electronic components that are sensitive to electric power quality, there's more need for the Residential Wireman's skills. Telecommunications -installer Technician are responsible for the wiring that makes the Internet and e-commerce possible. Communication industries rely on something installed everyday by our industry: wires and cables. When building owners and tenants have network wiring problems, they need a professional telecom installer/technician and he or she becomes the most important person in the building!
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