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Old 08-15-2010, 04:55 PM   #1
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Default Should I Become Non-Union Electrician?

Hello everyone,

I posted here recently about becoming a union electrician but since the unions are hard to get into, would it be worth it to go to school and become a non-union electrician as opposed to doing an apprenticeship with the union? Would I be able to get jobs? Also, what would my pay look like? I'm not looking to become rich, but I do live in a very high cost area (NYC) and need a decent salary.

I ran this idea by my father and he said it would be hard to have a good career as a non union electrician. He is a not an electriican, but he works in commercial real estate so he knows plenty of union tradesmen very well. He instead suggested I become a HVAC technician. Would this be a good idea or is it better to be a non union electrician?

Thanks for your advice!

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Old 08-15-2010, 05:18 PM   #2
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I'm non union and I make a very good living.......Hvac guys do too.

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Old 08-15-2010, 05:40 PM   #3
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Union is for cowards.

Non union electricians earn a very good living.
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Old 08-15-2010, 05:45 PM   #4
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Union is for cowards.

Non union electricians earn a very good living.
READ Sundays Citizen!!!
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Old 08-15-2010, 06:40 PM   #5
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You will be the one who will have to live with whatever decision you make. In the union the scales are already established as well as H&W, Retirement, IRA's etc. Most places I have traveled the open shops pay less than the union shops and few have had benefits to compete with what unions offer. It is your life and your choice.
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Old 08-15-2010, 06:46 PM   #6
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I am a union electrician. However, I went to school at nights to learn the basics of HVAC. I made a lot of money doing heating and air and I believe you should go to school to learn it. Being an electrician has been great for me but apparently times have changed. No matter how bad times may be, people will not give up their alcohol and they will not give up their creature comforts. Be an honest heating and air guy and you will always be able to make a living.
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Old 08-15-2010, 07:09 PM   #7
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Do what you have to now, join the Union later.
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Old 08-15-2010, 07:15 PM   #8
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I am a union electrician. However, I went to school at nights to learn the basics of HVAC. I made a lot of money doing heating and air and I believe you should go to school to learn it. Being an electrician has been great for me but apparently times have changed. No matter how bad times may be, people will not give up their alcohol and they will not give up their creature comforts. Be an honest heating and air guy and you will always be able to make a living.
It's settled then, I'm gonna be a bartender.
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Old 08-15-2010, 07:33 PM   #9
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I am a union electrician that fell into doing temp. control installs, turning into doing full out HVAC. You may get side work doing electrical work, but you will never run out of side work doing HVAC, even if you don't want it. You get more service work doing HVAC and usually pays better.
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Old 08-15-2010, 07:59 PM   #10
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Union is for cowards.
Sounds like a keyboard commando / computer tough-guy.
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:00 PM   #11
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Well, thanks for the replies so far. I have nothing agaisnt HVAC technicians, but I have always considered electricians to be more "prestigious" hence why I was leaning toward it. But money is money at the end of the day.
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:03 PM   #12
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Become a plumber. Way to many electricians. Plumbers never run out of SH*T to do.
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:06 PM   #13
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I am a union electrician that fell into doing temp. control installs, turning into doing full out HVAC. You may get side work doing electrical work, but you will never run out of side work doing HVAC, even if you don't want it. You get more service work doing HVAC and usually pays better.
That's what I'm talking about. I always tell the younger electricians to learn about heating and air.
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:09 PM   #14
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I am a union electrician that fell into doing temp. control installs, turning into doing full out HVAC.
I was doing HVAC, then went electrician, and now do the energy management / temp control. Its thah bomb sh1t.

The guys who do the concentric bends in the big pipe and pull big wire laugh at the hvac control guys, until they are humbled by the complexity of an hvac controls install. I think controls is more stimulating.

To the OP: hit the non-union apprenticeship, so you can accumulate construction hours and residential hours while you apply for the union program. Not all your hours will count, but it is well worth it to see how both sides do business. There are stereotypes of union and non-union contractors, but the only one that is true across the board is: at non-union contractors everyone is suspicious about who gets paid more, and who is sucking up at the office. There is no true stereotype about quality of work.

Go find a residential new construction shop and rope houses for six months. It is a MUST to learn circuitry. There should also be a mandatory tour at a residential remodel shop. Then go get your commercial on, TI and core and shell jobs. As an apprentice you want to see as much variety as possible, yet be in one place long enough to make sure it soaks in: its a tough balance.
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:14 PM   #15
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I was doing HVAC, then went electrician, and now do the energy management / temp control. Its thah bomb sh1t.

The guys who do the concentric bends in the big pipe and pull big wire laugh at the hvac control guys, until they are humbled by the complexity of an hvac controls install. I think controls is more stimulating.

To the OP: hit the non-union apprenticeship, so you can accumulate construction hours and residential hours while you apply for the union program. Not all your hours will count, but it is well worth it to see how both sides do business. There are stereotypes of union and non-union contractors, but the only one that is true across the board is: at non-union contractors everyone is suspicious about who gets paid more, and who is sucking up at the office. There is no true stereotype about quality of work.

Go find a residential new construction shop and rope houses for six months. It is a MUST to learn circuitry. There should also be a mandatory tour at a residential remodel shop. Then go get your commercial on, TI and core and shell jobs. As an apprentice you want to see as much variety as possible, yet be in one place long enough to make sure it soaks in: its a tough balance.


Words of wisdom. Controls is the sh*t. I have limited controls experience but the work I have done was enjoyable. Usually your left alone to do your own thing. It's more of a thinking mans job and much less demanding on the body. Building gear rooms is fun and bending large pipe is challenging but control electricians are much more in demand. I'm taking advantage of some down time to try to make the switch.
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Old 08-15-2010, 08:46 PM   #16
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Electricians do laugh at control guys. They think that running big pipe or pulling huge wire is what makes them this big tough electrician. Try doing control work and building your own schematics or circuit when all you have is a sequence of operation in a spec. book to work off of. Its wiring that really takes smarts and I love it because it's challenging. Anyone can pull big wire into a panel or switchgear.
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Old 08-15-2010, 09:04 PM   #17
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How does one get a non-union apprenticeship? Where do I look? Would I get paid?
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:01 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donald11 View Post
Well, thanks for the replies so far. I have nothing agaisnt HVAC technicians, but I have always considered electricians to be more "prestigious" hence why I was leaning toward it. But money is money at the end of the day.
Working in the hot, cold, dirty, dusty enviorments is prestigious to you....? LOL ............

Im non union and I make a great living.....but then again who friggin cares.......LOL
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:08 PM   #19
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I see your in NYC so am I. The union apprentice starts at a low 13 $ an hour I`m am sure a non union helper would get less.
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Old 08-15-2010, 11:23 PM   #20
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Is it better to be a non-union apprentice or to go to school and learn (ie: community college)?

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