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Old 08-02-2016, 10:55 AM   #1
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Default electrician? or linemen?

So I am at a crossroad. My buddy back home is a union guy and he is a lineman and I want to become an electrician. I am super nervous because i am 28, just got out of the Navy and i don't have a college degree. I want to make sure that I am choosing the right career path or if I should just go to college. I need some advice guys for real help me. Any info, professional advice or man to man advice is appreciated! Thanks you guys.
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:59 AM   #2
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Both are good careers. You should jump at the first opportunity. Linesmen work outside. I don't know if that concerns you but, up here, I don't like freezing my @ss off .
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:05 AM   #3
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You'll make more money as a lineman, but I hope you like ungodly overtime, hard work, and working in nasty weather. I chose to become an electrician because of the long game. Ive talked to tons of lineman who have missed a bunch of family events and holidays due to storm calls and whatnot, and I decided that long term I didn't want to miss that stuff when I have a family. I'd be a journeyman lineman by now making serious money, but money isnt everything. Any trade has its pluses and minuses.
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:07 AM   #4
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Getting a degree these days doesn't guarantee you a job. Where do your strengths lye? What did you do in the Navy? Don't get into debt you can't get out of for a "degree".
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:10 AM   #5
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For me it was a matter of do I want:

A...

- A chance to work inside part of the time.
- Be home with family every night
- Choose where I want to live and work (lots of lineman I know here have had to move out of the area to get into a pre-apprenticeship to get their foot in the door and/or move out of state for a few months to do a special school (might not apply in your area)...)

Or B...

1. on call 24/7
2. Be forced to leave my family during nasty storms when the wind is blowing 100 mph+ and the rain is horizontal not vertical and there is no power to go out in a boom truck 40' in the air while trees are literally blowing over.... (which I have done before as a volunteer firefighter and have no desire to do again)

General Journeyman for me.

No regrets!!!
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:11 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Going_Commando View Post
You'll make more money as a lineman, but I hope you like ungodly overtime, hard work, and working in nasty weather. I chose to become an electrician because of the long game. Ive talked to tons of lineman who have missed a bunch of family events and holidays due to storm calls and whatnot, and I decided that long term I didn't want to miss that stuff when I have a family. I'd be a journeyman lineman by now making serious money, but money isnt everything. Any trade has its pluses and minuses.
Yeah those are exactly the reasons i got out of the Navy. For electrician though from what i hear your income is all up to you and that overtime happens quit a bit. Its just kind of scary i guess. I want to be successful and get into something that i can move up in ya know. Not just another body like the military.
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Glock23gp View Post
For me it was a matter of do I want:

A...

- A chance to work inside part of the time.
- Be home with family every night
- Choose where I want to live and work (lots of lineman I know here have had to move out of the area to get into a pre-apprenticeship to get their foot in the door and/or move out of state for a few months to do a special school (might not apply in your area)...)

Or B...

1. on call 24/7
2. Be forced to leave my family during nasty storms when the wind is blowing 100 mph+ and the rain is horizontal not vertical and there is no power to go out in a boom truck 40' in the air while trees are literally blowing over.... (which I have done before as a volunteer firefighter and have no desire to do again)

General Journeyman for me.

No regrets!!!
This is awesome and super uplifting! thanks man. Do you find yourself being able to pay the bills, not struggle and do nice things for your family and yourself?
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:21 AM   #8
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I have always made ends meet.
When the economy crashed in '07 the residential market here left lots short on work so I made the choice to travel as an IBEW electrician so I spent almost 2 years on the road working some incredibly large jobs that had 2k electrican on each job.

Every jurisdiction pays differently. Scale here is $36.28 per hr. California wages are over $50 an hr.

Main thing I have learned is its not the job IT'S YOU.
Don't live beyond your means. Stash money for rainy days and enjoy life.

I actually work as a maintanance electrician at an industrial facility working 4 days on 4 days off. I make a little over $100k here but I'm bored off my a $$ So I started my own business last year and work for myself on my days off with a goal to do it full time in the next year or two.
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:40 AM   #9
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I have always made ends meet.
When the economy crashed in '07 the residential market here left lots short on work so I made the choice to travel as an IBEW electrician so I spent almost 2 years on the road working some incredibly large jobs that had 2k electrican on each job.

Every jurisdiction pays differently. Scale here is $36.28 per hr. California wages are over $50 an hr.

Main thing I have learned is its not the job IT'S YOU.
Don't live beyond your means. Stash money for rainy days and enjoy life.

I actually work as a maintanance electrician at an industrial facility working 4 days on 4 days off. I make a little over $100k here but I'm bored off my a $$ So I started my own business last year and work for myself on my days off with a goal to do it full time in the next year or two.
thats awesome man, I think being a maintenance electrician for an industrial facility would be AWESOME! that is exactly the sort of job i would LOVE to have for real!
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:46 PM   #10
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Be a lineman. Good money and they treat you well. Most guys get 4 10 hr days then overtime and rotate service hours.


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Old 08-02-2016, 10:12 PM   #11
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I am a retired JW. In my career I've had JWs and linemen on my crews. I've done underground, street lighting, cell towers, residential, industrial and commercial projects.

From my view, I was glad I chose to be a JW. I guess it wasn't a choice but rather dumb luck. When I called the IBEW phone numbers I found in the phone book looking to become an electrician, it was the JW local that answered the call. Lucky me cuz I didn't know the difference back then.

The linemen I have had working for me did anything from being dropped down from a helicopter to a 600' tower, to operating a beat up old trencher for street lighting cable. That lineman from the 600' tower was 64 when we hired him and still had a full head of hair. Go figure. For some, this is the life. You will only know when you do the research.

JWs can do anything from installing 12.8Kv distribution in a high rise to installing row after row of fluorescent lights drilled into a concrete ceiling. I've done both.

I always said if I died and found myself doing the latter, I would know I was in hell.

The more you know about yourself, the better choice you will make in the pursuit of you career. Don't let money be your guide. You have to love what you do.

What's that saying? "When you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life."

It's true.

Look at the opportunities the different paths offer. Do you see yourself doing this when you're 50? Or 60? Or do you want this to be a path to something else?

These are the questions you need to ask yourself. No one here can answer them for you.
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:29 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Localchevyguy88 View Post
So I am at a crossroad. My buddy back home is a union guy and he is a lineman and I want to become an electrician. I am super nervous because i am 28, just got out of the Navy and i don't have a college degree. I want to make sure that I am choosing the right career path or if I should just go to college. I need some advice guys for real help me. Any info, professional advice or man to man advice is appreciated! Thanks you guys.
If you want to retire well be a lineman. If you want to live a good life and someday own your own business become an EC
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Old 08-03-2016, 03:15 AM   #13
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The electrician is better than linemen... secured career opportunity along with the good scope.

and rest is up to your interest.
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Old 08-03-2016, 07:24 AM   #14
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I don't have a good sense of how far apart lineman pay is from electrician pay in different parts of the country. I know linemen in a few fairly average or below average areas that make GREAT pay, way more than electricians. I know a couple in more high-dollar areas and I don't think they don't make that much more.

It's a lot easier to start your own business as an electrician, and WAY easier to find side work for supplemental income, obviously. But starting your own business looks a lot better the less you know about it. The more you fully understand what's involved, the more people will change their mind about owning their own business.

Crystal ball wise, I'd say the future prospects for line work look great, even if electric cars don't catch on, the population will grow and the grid will need work. But you never know.

Electrical work prospects on the other hand will always fluctuate with construction trends. Even if you do service work, the labor supply will wax and wane with the construction trends.
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Old 08-03-2016, 12:38 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Maple_Syrup25 View Post
Be a lineman. Good money and they treat you well. Most guys get 4 10 hr days then overtime and rotate service hours.


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Maybe up where you are that's true, sure isn't a universal thing. Where I moved from there were huge rifts with the way management was treating the guys and safety issues with things not being done. They spent a very long time in arbitration over many factors. I won't even venture a guess with how long they were in dispute. My cousin was the head of the main local dealing with all this so I heard much of it first hand.
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Old 08-03-2016, 12:41 PM   #16
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In my opinion i think there are more pluses to being an electrician for a young guy looking to raise a family. Many have pretty much the same feelings.
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Old 08-03-2016, 12:46 PM   #17
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Maybe up where you are that's true, sure isn't a universal thing. Where I moved from there were huge rifts with the way management was treating the guys and safety issues with things not being done. They spent a very long time in arbitration over many factors. I won't even venture a guess with how long they were in dispute. My cousin was the head of the main local dealing with all this so I heard much of it first hand.


Hydro one out of Ontario is what I was talking about. I have some friends who work for them. I think if rather work for them than take over the reigns in two years. Way lees stressful to work for someone else than run a Company and a bunch of guys making close to the same amount a year


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Old 08-04-2016, 12:12 PM   #18
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Thanks you guys all this seriously helps. I am way more confident in becoming an electrician now. A few of my buddies says its a very rewarding job, there always work and its fun. I am very hands on and i love building things and putting projects together so i think this career is going be a good one for myself! Thank you everyone for all of your opinions!
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Old 08-04-2016, 02:34 PM   #19
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Have you heard of the Helmets to Hardhats program? Check it out:

https://www.helmetstohardhats.org/
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Old 08-20-2016, 12:12 PM   #20
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I had the opportunity to work for Florida Power and Light back in the early 70's.
Silly me, I did not show up for the test and subsequently ended up back on the rail yard the next day.

I have wondered (as I have for several lost opportunities) what might have come from a linesman's life and work.

My friend and neighbor is retired from Duke Energy. He's single has a great house and acres upon acres to bush hog. I can find him at any one of the local watering holes most any day. As long as its still daylight. Seems many of the older guys like me try to get home before the cops set up the license checks (DUI Checks).
He is set for life and moved up within the company. He drove around in a brand new truck, looking for cut offs and other mundane **** like that.
He gets a very nice check each month from them, along with his social security check and his own plan.
Seems he has done quite nice with line work.
Get in young and move up the ladder so when your an old fart, you can still go to work and wonder how they could pay you for doing so little!

Go for it. I went the other way and had no interest in owning my own business.
To this very day, that is not something I look back on with remorse.
Working for the man is the route I took and glad I did.

Good Luck and what ever your decision is, in 30 years it will either matter or it wont!
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