The type of work a first year electrician apprentice does can be different depending on where they’re working. All electricians have had different experiences during their first year as an apprentice.
The great thing about being an apprentice is that they aren’t required to know anything about the trade. Apprentices learn the trade over time because the journeyman or foreman will show the apprentice how to do everything.
First Year Apprentice Electrician Duties
- Digging trenches for running underground electrical pipe (conduit)
- Load / unload equipment and material
- Pull wire and install electrical devices (maybe small or large)
- Learn how to bend conduit and install it
- Get material to help the journeyman complete tasks
- Clean up at the end of the day.
The time of year, type of electrical work, and phase of construction will dictate the type of work the apprentice will be doing.
Requirements To Become An Electrician Apprentice
Apprentice Electricians are required to take a certain amount of academic courses each year. The amount varies between each licensing agency; this is usually a state requirement.
Topics of training can include electrical theory, blueprint reading, National Electrical Code updates, and OSHA safety. In some apprenticeships the apprentices also learn first aid, study local and state building electrical codes.
Specialized training in areas such as welding, communications, or fire alarm systems can lead to acquiring other certifications which increases the apprentices value.
The Golden Rules For All New Apprentices
It’s quite simple really – if a new hire can’t show up to work on time – they’re gone.
Attitude plays a big part on how you’re treated and what types of jobs you’ll be involved with.
If you have a poor attitude you’re either going to become a professional ditch digger or standing in the back of the unemployment line – so stay positive.
It’s the apprentice’s job to follow instructions, learn, and do the job right the first time.
When apprentices start learning to plan ahead and prepare the tools / materials for the journeyman it makes a great impression – and improves efficiency on the job.
An apprentice’s job is to help the journeyman electrician work faster – wait to ask questions.
Tips All First Year Electricians Should Know
It is not your job to know what to do next.
That comes with time and experience. If you don’t know what to do next, or have no job to do, do not feel guilty.
Some people ask the job site foreman for another task or you simply start sweeping. Sweeping is the default, “I’m out of work to do” task that gets the point across without you bothering anyone.
It is your supervisor’s job to delegate work. It is your job to do the work he has delegated.
As long as you are doing the work you have been delegated, you are a successful apprentice, and should not stress.
Starting a new career can be very stressful.
You should find a way to relax when you get home, and not dread coming into work the next day. It may take a month or two.
This does not mean drinking a 12 pack of Schlitz while you eat your TV dinner.
Go to the gym, ride a bike, build a shelf, or even better, read.
Arrive early and stay late for the first week.
Live your job and over commit for a while. This will break you of any desire to “clock out early” or “cut corners”.
You’ll beat it into your head that this is your life now, and you’ll stop trying to be sneaky with the time sheets.
After that you can start scaling back your involvement to a more reasonable level, and focus on doing your 8 and going home.
You might want to try only calling people “sir” when they’re delegating work to you properly.
If a journeyman is acting like an idiot, do the job – but be reserved.
If they’re good with delegating work and teaching stuff when they can, start throwing out “sir’s” like you’re in the military – it helps reinforce that your loyalty is earned.
If a supervisor is being a jerk, be polite.
If he’s yelling at you about not picking up one little piece of trash or he’s just not treating you with respect, be OVERLY polite.
It’s like passive aggressiveness, but it’s less passive.
“I’m sorry about not picking that trash up. It makes both myself and the company look much less professional than we should. Thank you for holding me to the standards this job demands”.
The key is to be genuine with the apology so he knows you’ve learned from your error, but over do it so he has NO REASON to be a dick afterward.
If he keeps acting like an asshole at that point you’re justified in giving it right back to him.
But doing so requires that you actually DO learn from your mistakes and try your hardest not to make them again.
Lunch and break time are HOLY to construction workers.
If you don’t eat lunch, bring carrots or at least a drink to the site so you look like you’re waiting to go back to work – laborers get put off by that.
There’s also a pattern to break time, and it goes like this:
Resting/eating joking for the first 80%, talking about the job you’re doing or will currently do for the last 15% (“So we’re bringing power to this room from this conduit here, right?”), and watching the supervisor for when he stops breaking during the last 5% – this is when the break is over.
Look for the signs of each phase and you’ll never be out of place.
Turning into a phantom and disappearing before lunch and ghosting back to work afterwards is a no-no. These stupid acts will get you shit canned faster than Usain Bolt’s 100 meter sprint.
No one likes open-ended problems.
If you present someone with a problem – some factoid that will slow down progress – you should also present them with a possible solution – or a path to finding the solution.
Your supervisors will get all pissy if you stack problems onto their plate and don’t include ways to solve those problems.
If I don’t have a solution for a problem, get one of the other apprentices to bring it up to a manager.
Don’t be a smart ass, but be smart.
If your supervisor asks you to fetch something for him, but he didn’t specify exactly what he wanted, and he’s also the type of person to get pissy when you ask him to be specific – you’re better off just grabbing everything he might possibly have been referring to and presenting them all to him like, “take your pick”.
It gets the point across that he needs to be more informative and also conveying that you’ll do your best with the info you’re given.
Hopefully you found this helpful. If you’ve experienced something that you think should be listed then leave a comment.