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Unread 07-03-2019, 04:28 AM   #1
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Default (Advice Needed) Labor and Lifestyle of an Electrician?

TLDR AT BOTTOM! Sorry for the long essay



Hi all,



So I'm looking into the electrician trade from the outside (currently a struggling electrical engineering student in university). From what I've heard, everyone has said that labor will be a factor as with any blue-collared job (unsurprisingly). I've talked to contractors who I currently work for as an EE, not as an electrician, and they've said the labor isn't as intense as that of say a plumber or a masonry, but there is still labor.



My question is, how laborious exactly is an average day of work for you electricians out there? And better yet, what is an average day for you? I've had some career guidance on the subject and heard that the electrician trade can be very taxing on the body and that I may not be able to handle the work, especially as I get older. To give a bit of context, I'm a 20 year old male, 121 lbs, 5'5-1/2" so I'm not exactly ripped, but I'm healthy and somewhat lean. Does the labor involved crush people like me? And would I be able to stay in the industry until preferably retiring age (~65) without any major health concerns? I initially saw the labor in this profession as a means to stay fit since I would be working and being out and about instead of hunching over a computer at a desk for eight hours a day, but I recently had others (albeit non-electricians) tell me that crawling around tight spaces all day to wire up houses and buildings really takes a toll on the body especially as you get older.



My other question for the electricians here is what lifestyle do you guys have outside of the workplace? After work, do you come home to spend time with family? Do you have energy by the end of the day to do anything after work? I guess more than anything I'd like to enjoy the day at work and be able to come home to a family and still have enough energy to spend time with them and do things that I want, which is a concern that was recently brought up by relatives and friends.



I'm really interested in an apprenticeship and have already applied for a couple programs, one for a wireperson and another for a telecom installer technician, any advice on either of the two? Is one better than the other? For wirepersons, I would be working as an apprentice for 10,000 hours before getting an EJ whereas the installer technician will take 6,000 hours for an EJS. From the position descriptions, it sounds like the wirepersons have a much broader scope of work and have more labor, especially when it comes to conduit installation. Anything else to look out for from either position?



TLDR: How labor-intensive is it to be an electrician? Is it a viable career choice for someone who is very much interested in the path but also happens to be a smaller-framed person? Is the labor too much for most people to continue working as they get older, and maybe even up till retirement age? And does the labor ever take away from your way of life outside of work (i.e. using up all your energy during the work day so that by the end of it, you can't spend quality time with family).



Thanks for any answers and advice on the subject!
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Unread 07-03-2019, 06:21 AM   #2
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I’m 5’5 and weigh quite a bit more than you, and it isn’t muscle Hahahaha
You’ll do fine. I’m on a big job site with a lot of guys that are smaller AND shorter than me and they get on ok. You might need to get up an extra step on your ladder but that’s about it.

Labor wise, for the first few weeks I’d be wrecked when I got home, but I’ve been at it since February now and I get home and still have enough energy to go to the gym if that gives you any idea at all.

Just make sure you’re eating more to compensate for the energy expenditure and you’ll just get stronger as you get used to lifting bundles of conduit and whatever else you may need to grab.
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Unread 07-03-2019, 06:49 AM   #3
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You are way to scared of a little physical work.



IMO - Smaller, lighter wiry guys may not lift as much or pull as much as the big gorillas but they are actually better suited to a lot of up and down ladders and foot mileage.



Not an electrician, but one of my best old (OLD!) buddies is 91 now. He's very fit but just 132 pounds. You may not believe this but he worked 25-30 hours a week on his son's water truck delivering two five gallon bottles of water all day until he was 80!



He was a firm believer that this work was key to keeping him fit later in life. He kept up with guys one third his age, pulled his weight - it's not like they gave him the clipboard and let him drive.



It is very possible to transition into less labor intensive jobs later on when the wear and tear starts to take it's toll. Not enough of those jobs for everyone though, some will have to make it to retirement as a journeyman.



If you work smart, you can dramatically reduce the toll the work takes on the body in most cases.



I don't see people coming home from cubicle jobs notably more or less energetic than people coming home from trade jobs. They are cleaner, though.
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Unread 07-03-2019, 06:57 AM   #4
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I got ketchup on my blue jeans. I just burnt my hand... Lord it's hard to be a bachelor man. I got girls that can cook. I got girls that can clean. I got girls that can do anything in between.

Point is, I have a Maserati with a ladder rack. I work 12 hours a week and have to use a tazer to keep the women off me. I sleep on a pile of money. Being an electrician for the last 8 months is the best thing I've ever done.
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Unread 07-03-2019, 07:22 AM   #5
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Unread 07-03-2019, 07:30 AM   #6
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Every task brings different physical requirements and each job brings different tasks.

Are you looking at being a lineman or a PLC programmer?

Maybe underground utility construction?
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Unread 07-03-2019, 08:16 AM   #7
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Welcome aboard @send_help!

Unless you really are afraid of physicality as you sound in your whining get out there and try or you will never know.

Damn young man little girls can do this job with great success!

Many of the things you ask vary from task to task and cant be generalized so readily.

Give it a shot, go Union!
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Unread 07-03-2019, 09:18 AM   #8
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I’m a skinny chit with noodle arms and strength has never been my...erm...strength. You learn to use your brain rather than the muscles you don’t have. Some tasks require brute strength but that’s when you ask for help.

Like someone else said, small people are better suited to some tasks.
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Unread 07-03-2019, 11:43 AM   #9
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I hear Antifa is hiring.............
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Unread 07-03-2019, 11:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macmikeman View Post
I hear Antifa is hiring.............
True but that's such a dead end job!

Not a lot of real future in it.
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Unread 07-03-2019, 12:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeFL View Post
Every task brings different physical requirements and each job brings different tasks.

Are you looking at being a lineman or a PLC programmer?

Maybe underground utility construction?
So far I've applied to two apprenticeship programs: one for a wireperson and the other for a telecom installer technician. From the job descriptions, it sounds like the wireperson has a broader scope of work and more labor to do (I heard 90% of their work is installing/bending conduit).

Not too familiar with the more labor-heavy electrician work as all the jobs I've worked so far have been in the office.

Thanks for all your input!
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Unread 07-03-2019, 08:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by send_help View Post
So far I've applied to two apprenticeship programs: one for a wireperson and the other for a telecom installer technician. From the job descriptions, it sounds like the wireperson has a broader scope of work and more labor to do (I heard 90% of their work is installing/bending conduit).

Not too familiar with the more labor-heavy electrician work as all the jobs I've worked so far have been in the office.

Thanks for all your input!
I bend conduit 80% of the day most days. The biggest I do by hand is 1" and once you get the swing of it it's easy stuff and almost anyone can do it. We use a cyclone bender for anything bigger.

I think you're over thinking the physical aspect of it. I'd be telling you something different if you were coming into the trade disabled, but you're just slim is all.
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Unread 07-03-2019, 08:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 99cents View Post
I’m a skinny chit with noodle arms and strength has never been my...erm...strength. You learn to use your brain rather than the muscles you don’t have. Some tasks require brute strength but that’s when you ask for help.

Like someone else said, small people are better suited to some tasks.
I just pictured one of those car dealership blow up noodle people and laughed way louder than I should have.
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