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Become an electrician after college

  • 30-07-2021 4:40pm
    Registered Users Posts: 206 ✭✭

    I’m in college at the moment doing a level 8 in business and law, but I have realised I have no interest in working in an office when I complete my degree in 9/10 months time.

    I had always considered becoming an electrician and I think I might take the plunge after getting my degree as I’ll only be 22. I like the idea of maybe someday becoming self employed and using my degree to my advantage.

    I think I’d prefer being an industrial electrician, but it’s difficult to gauge which companies are good/bad employers, and I’m also concerned about being shipped around the country at a moments notice. Also I’ve heard anecdotal stories of apprentices doing the likes of making tea for the qualified lads and I’d hate this, I’m there to learn the trade and be useful, I have no issue doing donkey work but I don’t want to be making tea or heading to the shops for people.

    I guess I’m just wondering if anyone has ever made this move or if anyone has any wise advice?:) thanks a lot!


  • Registered Users Posts: 25,669 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble


    When they send you to the shops for a long stand, head into a cafe for an hour or so. Then go back and say the shop had run out.

    Don't tell the other apprentice lads that you have a degree. Let them think you failed college. (Don't lie outright, just imply it).

    Make the tea or whatever with a smile on your face. You're being tested for clues, once you prove you have some, you'll be shown more interesting things to do.

  • Registered Users, Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators Posts: 2,175 Mod ✭✭✭✭Nigel Fairservice

    A friend of mine did Greek and Roman Civilization in college and did an an apprenticeship in carpentry after it. I wouldn't say it all that unusual these days to do an apprenticeship after a degree. He lives in Canada now and has permanent residency there.

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,875 ✭✭✭✭Sleeper12

    Plenty of good electricians on the electrical forum would be happy to offer advice

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,888 ✭✭✭kirving

    Why not?

    I work with people will every level of qualification, and have rarely (if ever) seen anything but respect between people for their respective skillsets.

  • Registered Users Posts: 938 ✭✭✭gauchesnell

    does your college also offer apprenticeships - if they do contact that department and they should be able to answer any queries you have. I work in a university and yes we see this all the time - people change careers and retrain all the time.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2 Stah

    And what ever you do, don't let them know you can read or count above 10 without taking off your boots....

    In reality, it's pretty normal for apprentices to be graduates or at an advanced stage of college when they start. This what it's like in my trade and I imagine it's the similar for electricians. The idea that apprentices are a bunch of thicks that could barely scrap a junior cert bears no relation to the real world.

    Selecting and getting selected by a good company is vital, not my industry so can't comment further on the likes of Mercury or Jones engineering, but I'd imagine electrical / instrumentation apprenticeships offered by pharma companies and other large manufacturers are also a solid choice.

    In my experience, the best attribute an apprentice can have is a good attitude. If they are keen, switched on and eager to dive in and get dirty the lads will be more than happy to have them along for the interesting work, it's the young lads set staring at the phone that get the crap jobs.

    I started my time as a college grad of 25 and have built an excellent career.

  • Registered Users Posts: 206 ✭✭BuzzMcdonnell

    Oh don’t get me wrong I wasn’t trying to imply that apprentices are stupid or anything, my father was a fitter at one stage so I understand that the stereotypes around trades don’t hold true at all.

    It was actually Mercury engineering that I was looking at. I really do think electrical is something that would interest me and I think my business background would serve me well with either starting my own business down the lines or moving into management.

  • Registered Users Posts: 206 ✭✭BuzzMcdonnell

  • Registered Users Posts: 206 ✭✭BuzzMcdonnell

    Unfortunately the university I study at doesn’t offer apprenticeships

  • Registered Users Posts: 41 WindWarrior

    As an electrician I'd recommend to do a instrumentation apprenticeship with a decent company if possible or else an electrical apprenticeship with a company that does MV/HV work. Both options in my opinion will allow for more/better career options down the road

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2 Stah

    Na lad never got that impression off ye, you were asking valid and sensible questions. My comments were aimed at OBumbles “advice”

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,517 ✭✭✭✭Tell me how

    Main thing with electrical trade is the company you serve your time with. The formal training will cover everything from domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural type working environments but that is only 25% or less of the 4 years. If working with a big firm like Kirby's or Suir you could end up doing the same thing for 4 years (likely heavy duty installation work) unless you are proactive in trying to get exposure to different fields. Working with smaller companies and most of your work could be domestic and commercial type sites. Getting in to the area of PLC's and industrial manufacturing control at least to some degree while also more of the traditional electrical installation type tasks would be ideal in my view.

    I did what you are doing in reverse, I did my electrical trade straight after school and then did degree studies after that and am glad I made the choice to pursue the direction I wanted to go in. Because of my experience, I may be somewhat biased but I think the electrical trade is an excellent one the range of direction you can go in is quite varied, again, if you get good training and are willing to take the opportunities to learn rather than just sticking with doing what the first company who offers you an apprenticeship will ask you to do.

    You may have to convince the hiring manager that this is something you are committed to and not just a pipe dream you'll get sick of on the first wet winter day when pulling cable on an exposed site.

    Should you succeed and get to the point of having the electrical trade (with decent practical exposure during it) and the business degree, you would likely be in a very strong position to advance in direction of surveying or PM'ing large projects over the next few years if you wanted to go that direction. If you wanted to stay hands on working the tools, you'd be of course able to do that also.

    Good luck.

  • Registered Users Posts: 551 ✭✭✭SupaCat95

    Good question. People are jealous creatures by nature. I am in no way running down electricians or anyone in construction. The goal in life for success is to fit in, BUT there are "these" people out there and you get them in every Trade and Profession. They will see you as too "lah-dee-dah" for doing commoners work in construction with your big business degree. They will try to trip you up and set you up, dont give them that reason to single you out. People are jealous, its human nature.

    The business degree is gold because it will give you an overview of the business and book keeping. Most businesses fail because they cannot manage cashflow. If you cannot get paid by debtors and cannot get money out to pay creditors then you are doomed. If you dont pay your tradesmen they are gone, even at the rumour you have credit problems. Tradesmen are very fickle like that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,812 ✭✭✭Girly Gal

    Great advice there, the important thing is to get good exposure and experience rather than getting stuck doing containment installation or general donkey work, which can happen on the larger projects with the large contractors who often use the apprentices as cheap labour and replace them when apprenticeship is over. Depending on what projects they have, they'll also expect you to move around the country or even overseas at fairly short notice. Try to do an electrical instrumentation apprenticeship as it will give you more options when you do qualify. If you have an interest in it which it sounds like you do, it's well worth it and your career could literally go anywhere after qualifying. That said I know a few lads that qualified that never worked in the industry again.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,760 ✭✭✭dudley72

    What backward thinking

    the days of trades people not having degree or qualifications are long over, most spend longer in college than other professions and constantly have to retrain for new certifications etc

    Especially as an electrician, I know one mate who spent years getting qualifications, served time and now back in college doing a degree in renewables

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,517 ✭✭✭✭Tell me how

    Why would anyone undermine themselves by suggesting they failed at something. I'm not suggesting the OP goes in implying they are smarter than everyone else but that they don't start on day one by telling lies either.

    And the days of the apprentices having to make the tea for the journeymen stopped 20 years ago.