Electrician is an occupation growing in demand in Austin, with an average entry level hourly wage of $16.55. To help connect residents interested in the skilled trades, we joined Lone Star Construction Trades Training (Lone Star) to host a five-day, 40-hour pre-apprenticeship class from November 30 to December 4 at the Austin Electrical Training Alliance!
Students first learn about safety, basic tools and circuity. Hands-on tasks include installing receptacle switches and lights. Next they learn about ground fault interrupters (GFI), three-way switches and split receptacles. Finally, the students tackle more complex installations like four-way switches, dimmers and lighted receptacles.
Lone Star CTT is a 501(c)3 organization owned and operated by Darci Brennan and Rebecca Young. They are both Journeymen electricians with over 48 years of experience in the electrical trade. Lone Star is dedicated to providing no-cost hands-on training for women seeking a career in the construction trades.
Spectra Stewart learned about the class from a friend. She decided to apply so she could use the electrical knowledge for personal projects, and joined the class with her friend, Amy Jordan.
“I am building a tiny house and I want to stand with the electricians and know what they are talking about,” Spectra said. “I want to have more knowledge. My mom is in an old house and the wiring in dangerous and I want to fix that.”
For Spectra, learning electrical theory and installation is like learning a new language: “There is a lot of terminology, and if you are not familiar with it, it’s like a new language. Like P equals power, or black wire doesn’t do the same thing as white wire. It’s so fun and rewarding when you can make a light bulb come on.”
She added, “We are learning so much, so quickly. My brain is full at the end of every day. But we go over everything and it’s starting to stick. Every day is more fun.”
“For five years, I worked with a contractor and learned a little bit about the trades except for electric. I would absolutely recommend this, especially for women,” Spectra said.
“These ladies are the best. They are patient, knowledgeable and I am elated that I came across this. I signed up one of my friends and would do this again in a heartbeat. I would it again just to solidify the knowledge. This is something anybody can use, all the time, daily,” she said.
Graduates earn a certificate from Lone Star, as well as their Texas apprenticeship license and their OSHA 10 license (paid for by Lone Star). For a graduation gift, the students receive bags of tools, making them ready to begin working.
Amy Jordan is currently working as a restaurant manager but seeking a new career path. “My friend Spectra posted this training on Facebook, and I was like, I totally want to do this! I build stuff but have no experience with electrical. I thought, ‘I already know a little bit about it, so I am totally taking up this opportunity,’” she said.
“The most challenging thing about the class is looking at the blueprints and thinking how this will look like in real life. I am not used to this language yet. It’s a whole new language—every receptacle, every outlet, every light has a different language,” said Amy.
For Amy, the weeklong class has been a positive learning experience: “It doesn’t feel like work, it feels like playing, like we’re making things and building stuff. It’s a fun and supportive environment, and that is the most rewarding part for me,” Amy said.
“They want me to be here and I feel like my time here is valuable. I took a week off work and I don’t have to pay out of pocket. It’s important that Workforce Solutions wants to fund this training and it’s such an honor to do this,” said Amy.
“I’m thinking that going into this will be a great opportunity for the long term. I love building—I build greenhouses for friends and do handyman work for them. Now I can add electrical to that. This looks like an actual, awesome job prospect for the future,” Amy said
“Everyone will always need electricity. I like that I can go in, do my job and make everyone happy,” Amy said.
Rebecca Young is the Director and Electrical Instructor at Lone Star CTT.
“You go through your apprenticeship and become a journeyman. From there you have all these different paths to take—you can become a foreman, an instructor, an inspector,” Rebecca said. “When I started, I was the foreman, I drove the service van, and I was an inspector for a while. Now I am an electrical instructor. That journeyman license can take you anywhere.
“I’ve been doing this for 29 years. It was the best decision I ever made my entire life. I’ve made so much money and had so much fun doing it,” she said.
“I can guarantee there are tough times, but it is so rewarding. When you have your electrical license, you can go anywhere. You have that freedom and skills that no one can take away from you. Women can do this, and it is an amazing trade to be in,” said Rebecca.
Lone Star will host another class in Austin from January 25 – 29, 2021. Austinites interested in applying can begin on Lone Star’s website.