Trade School, Apprenticeship, Both, Neither, or just a Mike Holt Course?

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LPS

Member
Location
Florida
Unusual topic…

I’m two years into teaching an electrician training program at a vocational school. I got my start in the Navy’s Electrician’s mate “A” school, then attended night classes while working as an electrician in a manufacturing plant. In fact, I’m now the instructor in the very class I took 35 years ago. It’s kind of bizarre… I also took an electronics class, PLC programming, and studied CAD and some programming at home. All while getting my Journeyman and later my FL EC license. Most of my time was spent in manufacturing and maintenance management… Not exactly the typical career path, but I believe my early classroom training was extremely beneficial.

Our program is approximately 1200 hours and generally follows the normal school schedule. They can come full time for about a year Monday-Thursday, or they can come part time morning or afternoon for two years. Most of the students are on some kind of financial aid, but the ones who pay out of pocket are charged a total of $5,300.

Some of the students are duel enrolled and attend high school in the morning and my class in the afternoon. They’re rock stars! Others have flipped burgers for a couple of years and end up in front of our wall of course brochures and, for whatever reason, choose electrical. I’ve had a 60 year old that wanted a different career (the hardest working student I’ll ever have..). and I’ve even had more than one ex-cop recently that wanted to get out of LE.

The class is really a lot of hard work, and I do my best to talk them out of it… Alternatively I tell them about the traditional 4-year apprenticeship model, the union, and that many electricians never bother to get their journeyman or contractor’s license. I also stress that this is a very labor-intensive trade, and in our area the starting pay is only about $14/hr. Then to top it all off, I tell them when they complete the program and get a job, the guys who haven’t had any formal training at all will be working circles around them. On the flip side I tell them that, unless something’s wrong with them, they will get a job, the learning curve will be faster, and if they follow up with an apprenticeship or a Mike Holt Journeyman Prep course, they’ll be on a clear path to getting their Journeyman card, and then onto becoming a licensed contractor. This program also knocks one year off the 4-year requirement to sit for the journeyman’s exam. Even though there are many good reasons to NOT take my class, they sign up anyway…!!

We do more hands-on training than the average trade school, but there’s no way we can compete with working apprentices who are installing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of material paid for by the customer. My belief is once they get out into the real world, they’re going to get hands-on experience till it’s running out their ears, and that they need to take advantage of the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of electricity and get a head start on the NEC. Like me, I don’t think they’ll really be able to appreciate the benefits of taking the program until they’ve 10-20 years down the road.

I want to steer these guys in the right direction. I'm more concerned about their long term career goals than I am with how impressed their employer is on day one. What do you think?

Thanks
 
A set of disconnected thoughts-

IMHO, apprenticeships where you spend the first year carrying heavy things aren't great for actually learning; suppose it depends on where you are, some have a lot of classroom training, some don't seem to.

People learn, understand, and remember things differently.
Some people need to be taught how to learn, on-the-job won't help with that.
Lots of people calling themselves electricians are more mechanics- they can bend pipe, set light poles, and pull wire, but don't know much about why things work or even understand basic code questions.
Reading the code is a skill itself, many people never manage it....
Electrical theory is better learned in a classroom/lab where you can experiment without blowing up the customer's equipment :ROFLMAO:.
Trade schools are more likely to teach good habits and methods, but they should also teach what the bad ones are so students can recognize them. (Again, teaching the why about something instead of "do it my way".)

Probably one of the best things you can do is help them have a sense of humility so when they walk on the job site, even it they are the sharpest knife in the drawer, they don't act like it- nobody like the New Guy to be a smart a55. Working with other people is a skill itself.
 

WasGSOHM

Senior Member
Location
Montgomery County MD
Occupation
EE
How does Mike's program cost compare with $5300?

How do the long term results of either program compare?

For you business guys, this seems to be a problem in computing "the present value of an annuity."
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Unusual topic…

I’m two years into teaching an electrician training program at a vocational school. I got my start in the Navy’s Electrician’s mate “A” school, then attended night classes while working as an electrician in a manufacturing plant. In fact, I’m now the instructor in the very class I took 35 years ago. It’s kind of bizarre… I also took an electronics class, PLC programming, and studied CAD and some programming at home. All while getting my Journeyman and later my FL EC license. Most of my time was spent in manufacturing and maintenance management… Not exactly the typical career path, but I believe my early classroom training was extremely beneficial.

Our program is approximately 1200 hours and generally follows the normal school schedule. They can come full time for about a year Monday-Thursday, or they can come part time morning or afternoon for two years. Most of the students are on some kind of financial aid, but the ones who pay out of pocket are charged a total of $5,300.

Some of the students are duel enrolled and attend high school in the morning and my class in the afternoon. They’re rock stars! Others have flipped burgers for a couple of years and end up in front of our wall of course brochures and, for whatever reason, choose electrical. I’ve had a 60 year old that wanted a different career (the hardest working student I’ll ever have..). and I’ve even had more than one ex-cop recently that wanted to get out of LE.

The class is really a lot of hard work, and I do my best to talk them out of it… Alternatively I tell them about the traditional 4-year apprenticeship model, the union, and that many electricians never bother to get their journeyman or contractor’s license. I also stress that this is a very labor-intensive trade, and in our area the starting pay is only about $14/hr. Then to top it all off, I tell them when they complete the program and get a job, the guys who haven’t had any formal training at all will be working circles around them. On the flip side I tell them that, unless something’s wrong with them, they will get a job, the learning curve will be faster, and if they follow up with an apprenticeship or a Mike Holt Journeyman Prep course, they’ll be on a clear path to getting their Journeyman card, and then onto becoming a licensed contractor. This program also knocks one year off the 4-year requirement to sit for the journeyman’s exam. Even though there are many good reasons to NOT take my class, they sign up anyway…!!

We do more hands-on training than the average trade school, but there’s no way we can compete with working apprentices who are installing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of material paid for by the customer. My belief is once they get out into the real world, they’re going to get hands-on experience till it’s running out their ears, and that they need to take advantage of the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of electricity and get a head start on the NEC. Like me, I don’t think they’ll really be able to appreciate the benefits of taking the program until they’ve 10-20 years down the road.

I want to steer these guys in the right direction. I'm more concerned about their long term career goals than I am with how impressed their employer is on day one. What do you think?

Thanks
Do you have classroom only or do you also have "lab time" where you actually do some the same things they will be doing once they join workforce? If you do some those things I don't see that others would run circles around them so much, presuming they did learn something and are willing to do the work.

The school I went to we did learn a lot of technical stuff that maybe you didn't use a whole lot the first year or two in the workforce, but we also learned how to bend conduit, wire up basic items, single pole, three way, four way switches, mixed up with load beyond the switches, before the switches, or other combinations of possibilities. Also learned about motors, differences between shaded pole, PSC, universal motors, induction motors, DC motors, three phase induction motors. How to wire simple "start-stop" control as well as some more advanced controls.

Same campus did have building construction students, we did wire the houses they built, we occasionally did do other small projects here and there on campus as well as sometimes a project off campus. We did have inspector(s) come inspect most the installed work we did but not stuff that was in the lab only and would be taken apart again after the assignment was finished, though occasionally an instructor would scrutinize some of that in similar fashion and even write correction notices for code violations even if the assignment purpose wasn't so much about code application.

We did many, many classroom assignments of calculating loads, then determining needed service, feeder, branch circuit conductors and overcurrent/overload protection, and determining raceway sizes needed as well.

Part of the program was a summer internship working for an EC, industrial maintenance, etc. where you would be primarily doing electrical work. Some guys got to do a big variety of things in that summer, others (particularly if on a larger crew) ended up doing a lot of dirty work most the summer. I know one guy that mostly threaded pipe most his summer.

I worked for a small EC, just me and the boss. I went back to work for him after second year of school was completed. Got to do a pretty big variety of tasks from the beginning with such a small crew. We did grow to a couple more guys eventually.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I'm a career changer. I started a union apprenticeship program at 46. (I have a degree in computer science and worked as a software engineer for 23 years.) On-the-job training 4.5 days a week. Left at lunch time for class one day a week and spent six hours in class and labs. The apprenticeship ran five years and the only cost was books at about $300 per year so a total of $1500.

All of the OJT was commercial and industrial work. This was great training, but when I started my company I had to learn how to do residential work. Luckily, I had befriended a guy who had worked a few years on a residential service truck. He was my mentor. I called whenever I needed advice, usually from the job. After a year, I knew about as much as he did about residential work. I bought that guy a lot of beer.
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
IMO an apprenticeship that includes high quality classroom training will give you the best all around experience. You can always supplement you're apprenticeship with learning on your own. For one this forum can be a valuable learnng tool. Also Mike's materials are great.

When I went through an apprentice program the classroom teaching was pretty poor. It was the learning that I did on my own (much of it on this forum) that really helped me to understand this stuff which at times can be very complicated.
 

LPS

Member
Location
Florida
Do you have classroom only or do you also have "lab time" where you actually do some the same things they will be doing once they join workforce? If you do some those things I don't see that others would run circles around them so much, presuming they did learn something and are willing to do the work.

kwired . Thanks for the response.

Since you asked, I attached our progression plan which lists the majority of the student's assignments as well as some of their general tools assignments.
The books are:
Delmar's Standard Textbook of Electricity 7th Edition, by Stephen L. Herman
Electrical Wiring Residential 19th Edition, by Ray C. Mullin and Phil Simmons
Electrical Wiring Commercial 16th Edition, by Ray C. Mullin and Phil Simmons

The books are both print and include an awesome online program with videos, quizzes, and a few other things.
We're about to start wiring tiny houses the construction class will be building, plus they've purchased three lots to build houses on, but we'll see if that ever happens... Most students will not be able to be involved in these projects.

In addition to the items on the list we're adding a 112KVA 480-120-208 transformer lab and some 555 bender assignments. I also plan to have them pull some 500kcmil aluminum with our G3 tugger. Unfortunately we're in a room with a 9-1/2' acoustical tile ceiling and I've got to find a place to setup a big pipe. We also rent a scissor lift and aerial platform for a couple of days as well.

Due to the student's schedules most of the book work is self paced. I hate this, but that's the way it's got to be.

The motor controls are done on our Lab-Volt industrial trainer. They only have to the basic motor controls book that takes them as far as a reversing brake motor with e-stops, pilot lights, and the like, as well as timers and a soft starter. Our other industrial trainer books (which are fantastic) are optional. Industrial is my thing, but unfortunately we don't currently teach it at our school.
 

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kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
kwired . Thanks for the response.

Since you asked, I attached our progression plan which lists the majority of the student's assignments as well as some of their general tools assignments.
The books are:
Delmar's Standard Textbook of Electricity 7th Edition, by Stephen L. Herman
Electrical Wiring Residential 19th Edition, by Ray C. Mullin and Phil Simmons
Electrical Wiring Commercial 16th Edition, by Ray C. Mullin and Phil Simmons

The books are both print and include an awesome online program with videos, quizzes, and a few other things.
We're about to start wiring tiny houses the construction class will be building, plus they've purchased three lots to build houses on, but we'll see if that ever happens... Most students will not be able to be involved in these projects.

In addition to the items on the list we're adding a 112KVA 480-120-208 transformer lab and some 555 bender assignments. I also plan to have them pull some 500kcmil aluminum with our G3 tugger. Unfortunately we're in a room with a 9-1/2' acoustical tile ceiling and I've got to find a place to setup a big pipe. We also rent a scissor lift and aerial platform for a couple of days as well.

Due to the student's schedules most of the book work is self paced. I hate this, but that's the way it's got to be.

The motor controls are done on our Lab-Volt industrial trainer. They only have to the basic motor controls book that takes them as far as a reversing brake motor with e-stops, pilot lights, and the like, as well as timers and a soft starter. Our other industrial trainer books (which are fantastic) are optional. Industrial is my thing, but unfortunately we don't currently teach it at our school.
Do you have basic electricity course, and lab? That was one of first things we did when I was in school was to learn Ohm's law, Kirchoff's laws, spend some time doing circuit calculations with resistors in series, parallel, etc. eventually adding capacitors and inductors into the mix then eventually going to lab and building some those circuits and measuring and proving what we learned in the classroom. Most that was with low volt power supplies and some boards that we could assemble components on.
 

LPS

Member
Location
Florida
Do you have basic electricity course, and lab? That was one of first things we did when I was in school was to learn Ohm's law, Kirchoff's laws, spend some time doing circuit calculations with resistors in series, parallel, etc. eventually adding capacitors and inductors into the mix then eventually going to lab and building some those circuits and measuring and proving what we learned in the classroom. Most that was with low volt power supplies and some boards that we could assemble components on.
Delmar’s Textbook of Electricity covers the fundamentals pretty well, including transformers and motors. The one thing it doesn’t cover is Kirchhoff’s Laws. Of course, you can’t cover combination circuits properly without Kirchhoff’ current law. It’s pretty simple, and we talk about it, just without as much as the mathematical acrobatics. Same with voltage.

In the Navy, everyone who had anything to do with electricity; electricians, electronics technicians, missile techs, sonar techs, etc., started their education at a school called Basic Electricity and Electronics. It covered all the electrical fundamentals, and the hands on we’re done on a radio with four circuit boards, power supply, receiver, tuner, and amplifier, along with a millimeters, signal generator, and oscilloscope. This radio included a transformer, resistors, transistors, caps, pots and so forth. In addition, they would test you with damaged boards and you’d have to write the symptoms, indicate the faulty component and fault mode, and then detail how the fault related to the symptoms. I remember the report always ended in “therefore, no sound emitted from the speaker.” Lol. Once you went to your “A”school, “Electricians Mate” in my case, you understood electricity... You attended a different class every week. The instructor only taught one class, and they knew exactly how to teach it... Continuous, on the board, in labs, doing calculations, with studying four nights a week. At the end of the week you took a test. If you missed one question you had to retake the week, and they also sent you to the guy with the golden shoulders. I saw him after my first go at motor week. I’ll never forget what he said, “What the hell is your problem? This is strike one. You will see my face one more time, that will be strike two. On strike three you’ll e packing you seabag.” Which meant you’d suffer the rest of your enlistment chipping paint. It was a tremendously motivating experience... After the military I worked in a factory where I did a more traditional “apprenticeship” and was taught the NEC.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to do as much hands on training with the fundamentals. We have to jump right into tools, fasteners, pipe bending, threading, safety, and general wiring. Then onto a study and hands on for residential, commercial, then motors and transformers.
Sounds like you covered theory pretty well. Do you think, in the long run, it was worth the time, or would you’re time have been better spent learning how to become neater and faster at at running conduit and wiring devices?
 
Last edited:

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Delmar’s Textbook of Electricity covers the fundamentals pretty well, including transformers and motors. The one thing it doesn’t cover is Kirchhoff’s Laws. Of course, you can’t cover combination circuits properly without Kirchhoff’ current law. It’s pretty simple, and we talk about it, just without as much as the mathematical acrobatics. Same with voltage.

In the Navy, everyone who had anything to do with electricity; electricians, electronics technicians, missile techs, sonar techs, etc., started their education at a school called Basic Electricity and Electronics. It covered all the electrical fundamentals, and the hands on we’re done on a radio with four circuit boards, power supply, receiver, tuner, and amplifier, along with a millimeters, signal generator, and oscilloscope. This radio included a transformer, resistors, transistors, caps, pots and so forth. In addition, they would test you with damaged boards and you’d have to write the symptoms, indicate the faulty component and fault mode, and then detail how the fault related to the symptoms. I remember the report always ended in “therefore, no sound emitted from the speaker.” Lol. Once you went to your “A”school, “Electricians Mate” in my case, you understood electricity... You attended a different class every week. The instructor only taught one class, and they knew exactly how to teach it... Continuous, on the board, in labs, doing calculations, with studying four nights a week. At the end of the week you took a test. If you missed one question you had to retake the week, and they also sent you to the guy with the golden shoulders. I saw him after my first go at motor week. I’ll never forget what he said, “What the hell is your problem? This is strike one. You will see my face one more time, that will be strike two. On strike three you’ll e packing you seabag.” Which meant you’d suffer the rest of your enlistment chipping paint. It was a tremendously motivating experience... After the military I worked in a factory where I did a more traditional “apprenticeship” and was taught the NEC.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to do as much hands on training with the fundamentals. We have to jump right into tools, fasteners, pipe bending, threading, safety, and general wiring. Then onto a study and hands on for residential, commercial, then motors and transformers.
Sounds like you covered theory pretty well. Do you think, in the long run, it was worth the time, or would you’re time have been better spent learning how to become neater and faster at at running conduit and wiring devices?
I think theory is vey important if you want to be more than just an installer though a certain amount if it is still important to be a good installer.

If you are troubleshooting it can become very useful to understand some the finer details.

Lots of guys that post here can't seem to figure some this stuff out. Problems with potentially bad neutrals seem to be a common thing to come up, good understanding of theory makes those situations easy to figure out. Some know the symptoms but don't really know why it does what it does.
 

garbo

Senior Member
Unusual topic…

I’m two years into teaching an electrician training program at a vocational school. I got my start in the Navy’s Electrician’s mate “A” school, then attended night classes while working as an electrician in a manufacturing plant. In fact, I’m now the instructor in the very class I took 35 years ago. It’s kind of bizarre… I also took an electronics class, PLC programming, and studied CAD and some programming at home. All while getting my Journeyman and later my FL EC license. Most of my time was spent in manufacturing and maintenance management… Not exactly the typical career path, but I believe my early classroom training was extremely beneficial.

Our program is approximately 1200 hours and generally follows the normal school schedule. They can come full time for about a year Monday-Thursday, or they can come part time morning or afternoon for two years. Most of the students are on some kind of financial aid, but the ones who pay out of pocket are charged a total of $5,300.

Some of the students are duel enrolled and attend high school in the morning and my class in the afternoon. They’re rock stars! Others have flipped burgers for a couple of years and end up in front of our wall of course brochures and, for whatever reason, choose electrical. I’ve had a 60 year old that wanted a different career (the hardest working student I’ll ever have..). and I’ve even had more than one ex-cop recently that wanted to get out of LE.

The class is really a lot of hard work, and I do my best to talk them out of it… Alternatively I tell them about the traditional 4-year apprenticeship model, the union, and that many electricians never bother to get their journeyman or contractor’s license. I also stress that this is a very labor-intensive trade, and in our area the starting pay is only about $14/hr. Then to top it all off, I tell them when they complete the program and get a job, the guys who haven’t had any formal training at all will be working circles around them. On the flip side I tell them that, unless something’s wrong with them, they will get a job, the learning curve will be faster, and if they follow up with an apprenticeship or a Mike Holt Journeyman Prep course, they’ll be on a clear path to getting their Journeyman card, and then onto becoming a licensed contractor. This program also knocks one year off the 4-year requirement to sit for the journeyman’s exam. Even though there are many good reasons to NOT take my class, they sign up anyway…!!

We do more hands-on training than the average trade school, but there’s no way we can compete with working apprentices who are installing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of material paid for by the customer. My belief is once they get out into the real world, they’re going to get hands-on experience till it’s running out their ears, and that they need to take advantage of the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of electricity and get a head start on the NEC. Like me, I don’t think they’ll really be able to appreciate the benefits of taking the program until they’ve 10-20 years down the road.

I want to steer these guys in the right direction. I'm more concerned about their long term career goals than I am with how impressed their employer is on day one. What do you think?

Thanks
I was lucky that my electrican dad took me on jobs starting when I was 10 years old and loved the trade. Went 3 hours a day for 3 years at the best vo tech high school around. Myself and another 10th grader rewired a 3 story house and even did some 100 amp services. I firmly believe that you have to attend classes. There is no way to learn how to bend cinduit by only watching vidios. My dad insisted that I mastered troubleshooting. I attended a few good 3 to 10 day drive schools and some how got good at troubleshooting repairing and installing them. Worked at 2 fortune 500 companies that always promised to send electricians for work related items but were too cheap to follow thru. Neither of these rich companies would ever purchase us a code book so I secured my own. Would laugh in their faces when they asked to borrow my code book. Best thing they ever did was require continuing education to renew an electrical license. Even though I'm retired I attended 8 yearly IAEI classes until the corunus virus struck. In my area most of the people entering trades only do it for a good salary. Talked my youngest son from going into a trade due to he could not even turn a screwdriver. I used to hate working along disgrunted workers who never cared about quality, quanity or speed of work. At 2 jobs I was always offered the most overtime due to never be late, getting the job done even if it demanded working 10 to 15 hours without a meal break to get equipment back up running. Went on some nice vacations with all the extra money.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
I was lucky that my electrican dad took me on jobs starting when I was 10 years old and loved the trade. Went 3 hours a day for 3 years at the best vo tech high school around. Myself and another 10th grader rewired a 3 story house and even did some 100 amp services. I firmly believe that you have to attend classes. There is no way to learn how to bend cinduit by only watching vidios. My dad insisted that I mastered troubleshooting. I attended a few good 3 to 10 day drive schools and some how got good at troubleshooting repairing and installing them. Worked at 2 fortune 500 companies that always promised to send electricians for work related items but were too cheap to follow thru. Neither of these rich companies would ever purchase us a code book so I secured my own. Would laugh in their faces when they asked to borrow my code book. Best thing they ever did was require continuing education to renew an electrical license. Even though I'm retired I attended 8 yearly IAEI classes until the corunus virus struck. In my area most of the people entering trades only do it for a good salary. Talked my youngest son from going into a trade due to he could not even turn a screwdriver. I used to hate working along disgrunted workers who never cared about quality, quanity or speed of work. At 2 jobs I was always offered the most overtime due to never be late, getting the job done even if it demanded working 10 to 15 hours without a meal break to get equipment back up running. Went on some nice vacations with all the extra money.
There is a lot of young people that can't figure out how to use a screwdriver or wrench, but are masters at manipulating a game controller. Some of it is the will to want to learn to do a particular task. somehow they figure out how to use a screwdriver long enough to swap/add an expansion module or something like that on their game system though.

I was doing some wiring and mechanic work myself at 10-12 years old. I remember helping dad testing/adjusting diesel injectors at a young age or torquing head gasket bolts. This mostly on farm machines not passenger automobiles. Remember having a gear case all apart from a combine and him showing me how it worked - think it was the main drive transmission but can't remember for certain anymore. Probably no older than 12 for that also.

When I was almost 16 my first car was basically free to me, but we had to put an engine in it, and go through it and fix or replace items before putting it in the car.

Yes some that wasn't exactly electrical, but still requires same sort of paying attention to details and a certain amount of math/physical sciences that is needed in either trade if you want to be good at it.
 
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