4th Year Apprentice, When did you start side work?

matthewadb

Member
Location
Boston MA
Occupation
Electrician
Hello, I'm a seasoned apprentice working out of MA for a commerical Electrical shop, it's a relatively large shop with lots of great exposure, all the JMs I've shadowed or work with have always expressed that they did side work very early on in their apprenticeship. The reason why I've posting this here is because I want to start my own business and already laid down a bit of leg work; I'm not some green that knows nothing I've asked countless JMs I've worked with and they all expressed the early troubles and hardships of opening a business.

I've done sidework for friends and family but I always assumed until I'm licensed and ensured doing "serious" amounts of side work was a no no?, especially since I can't even pull a permit for myself. But like anyone else I'm trying to get my name out there; any thoughts? I'd love to hear your guys inputs and your original stories. Even if you have experiences with starting and possibly losing a company I'd love to hear it. Not keen on the legal stuff I have a legal partner for that, just want to know a little about the trade portion. So in short... when did you start sidework? should I wait until I'm licensed? FYI

I'm a very experienced 4th year I've had incredibe exposure and great opportunities. I've done two years of residential and now almost two years of commerical work.

(I have 0 intention of leaving my company just yet, I'd love another 5-7 years in the department I'm currently in. I'm 23 years old.)

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Last edited:

matthewadb

Member
Location
Boston MA
Occupation
Electrician
You might be seasoned, but not being licensed and bonded means you can't pull permits. Why not work for a contractor, get expedience, then go off on your own.
You mean after doing my 8H every day? I'd love nothing more to work for another company after hours to get even more exposure. I have the drive, I can work all day and it doesn't phase me. But I've not run into many electrical companies that do second shift type work? like a 4-9 type deal. I'd do anything for more exposure. I get 40h+ a week doing my daily 6AM-2PM at my current company.

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jaylectricity

Senior Member
Location
Massachusetts
Occupation
licensed journeyman electrician
#1 You cannot do side work without a license.

No person shall install for hire any electrical wiring or fixtures subject to this section without first or within five days after commencing the work giving notice to the inspector of wires appointed pursuant to the provisions of section thirty-two of chapter one hundred and sixty-six. Said notice shall be given by mailing or delivering a permit application form prepared by the board, to said inspector. Any person failing to give such notice shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars. This section shall be enforced by the inspector of wires within his jurisdiction and the state examiners of electricians.
You can not pull a permit, therefore you can not take money for your side work.

MA General Law Part 1 Title XX chapter 143 section 3L

#2 Although I did a bit of side work before I was licensed, I didn't really start doing a lot of it until I was licensed while still working for the same company that trained me.

Get your license and continue to work for the company while doing side jobs to get your name out there.

Keep track of your time and materials even if you are asked to give a price upfront. If you are honest and fair and not pulling numbers out of a hat all of your customers will refer you. There are not enough electricians in MA right now. Do everything you can to pass your test on your first try.
 

tortuga

Code Historian
Location
Oregon
Occupation
Electrical Design
I run all my 'side work' (residential) thru the company, it was a great way to learn project management LOL.
Approach your boss and work a deal, even if I do a free charity job, I run the materials/permits thru the company.
If anything goes sideways with my 'side work' (friends and family) I have the company to back me up.
If I am not available my friends or family have the company to back me up.
'Side work' can be the worst customers FYI (just kidding sis!)
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I planned on opening my own shop from my 1st year as an apprentice. (I was 46 when I started and had had other businesses.) I thought I was smart enough to do side work, but I didn't do any because I didn't want to take a chance I would be caught and lose my ability to get licensed. Getting the master's license was the goal and the golden ticket. I didn't want to mess that up.

Turns out once I did open my own shop and start doing jobs, there was a lot I didn't know and I was a J-man five years by then. You will run into many situations you have never seen before. You can't guess at what the code book says. You have to know it or know how to find it. All that takes experience. You probably don't have enough experience as a 4th year to be doing anything more than very simple jobs.
 

AC\DC

Senior Member
Location
Florence,Oregon,Lane
Occupation
EC
Take it slow man. You are 23, and have the advantages and disadvantages of your age. Might want to ask current employer if you can be lead-man on your jobs.
Might want to ask him to go bid jobs.
Might want to ask him to do the billing and chasing money.
Might want to ask him to deal with the clients on a one on one bases.
Might want to ask him to deal with the taxes.
Might want to pay for any mistakes you do at your job.
ect.
There a reason some states have 8 years of experience before you can even attempt to be a EC. Some days I wish I worked for some one.
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
I've done sidework for friends and family but I always assumed until I'm licensed and ensured doing "serious" amounts of side work was a no no?, especially since I can't even pull a permit for myself. But like anyone else I'm trying to get my name out there; any thoughts? I'd love to hear your guys inputs and your original stories. Even if you have experiences with starting and possibly losing a company I'd love to hear it. Not keen on the legal stuff I have a legal partner for that, just want to know a little about the trade portion. So in short... when did you start sidework? should I wait until I'm licensed? FYI
I think that we've all done side work without being licensed. Around here many of the truck slammers get the homeowner to pull the permit but that still leaves them wide open to liability. If you're going to do the work IMO the number 1 rule is that you must do everything to code which requires you to actually know the code. If the job is done in a code compliant way there is a lesser chance of there being a problem down the road.
 

Thor Electric

Member
Location
houston tx
Occupation
contractor
I worked for contractors for many years before I decided to open my own shop. There are pluses and minuses to being either employee or a contractor. If you become a contractor you have to have key people for all that comes with it. When I opened my shop I learned quickly that it is not a forty-hour a week job anymore? The accounting, quarterly reports, taxes, setting up accounts with vendors, finding how to generate leads, estimating, hiring help, payroll, fleet maintenance, Insurance. It seems like the list goes on and on. I had three other electrician buddies that decided to go into business about the same time that I did. A year later two had folded up and I bought them out, trucks, tools, and client list. At this point in my life, I am not ready to retire but I am ready to work only 40 to 50 hours a week. This year I am selling out or going back to being a one-man shop that only does trouble/service calls. I can work doing 30 hours a week or so and have so much more time for myself and still make a living, without all the headaches of the overhead and hoping the employees show up so the jobs are done that are scheduled. There are all types of jobs in the electrical field. Gain all the knowledge you can get as many certifications as you can and you will be in demand as a valued employee. Maybe estimating, consulting, design, instrumentation. You can get a good-paying job that will allow you to have more time for your own life. If you don't mind traveling there are good-paying jobs once you have the certifications. I have run my own shop for 17 yrs but the hours are long and take up much of your time. there is more to life than work. I wish I had been given this advice when I was your age, I would have gotten more certifications myself.
 

whofrankw

Member
Location
milford nj
I got my license right away after fives years and start a legit side buisness. It is pretty hard to do legit side work with a full time job. Getting to someones house or where ever you are going you only have time for a few hours after work. Having a van full of tools and all the little fees and renewals add up when legit. Everyone is going to disagree but more electricians than not started with side work for cash. When you need to pull a permit ask the home owner to pull it. Be upfront with everyone that you do this on the side and are trying to start your own business. I know someone very close to me who started their electric company at 23 and already had close to 25k cash and used that to go legit and transition over.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I've been doing wiring since long before I became an electrician. I started doing phone and audio wiring when I was around 6, I wired a circuit from our fuse box to my parents' shed when I was around 12 for lights and receptacles, and did my first service upgrade for an uncle before I got my driver's license at 16.

So, to answer the OP, I guess you could say I started doing side work first.
 

blueheels2

Senior Member
Location
Raleigh, NC
Occupation
Electrical contractor
Started doing side work after my first year in the trade. My advice is not to do it but I understand money gets tight when you're not making a lot and you have to do what you have to do to make ends meet. The work I did was fine but years later you realize how much you didn't know.
 
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