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Craft Focus: Journeyman Electrician Talks About His Trade [VIDEO]

When you see a person working in a skilled trade, do you ever wonder how that person came to choose that particular career or how he or she got started?  I recently had the opportunity to interview Josh Reynolds, a young electrician for ISC, an industrial electrical, instrumentation, and controls contractor offering engineering, construction and maintenance services to the chemical processing, petrochemical, refining, power, and pulp and paper industries.

Reynolds began working at ISC during summers while he was still in high school with an entry-level job in the office.  After graduation, he began to work for ISC full time, working his way up through the company, learning new skills and tackling more difficult tasks – constantly receiving hands-on training from other journeymen on the jobs as he advanced to his current position as a Journeyman Electrician in the industrial field of construction.  I asked Reynolds what specific tasks he performs on industrial jobsites. 

“I install conduit (protective pipe which houses electric cables), install instruments that [provide] lighting in the refineries, install the conduit, install J boxes (junction boxes) for the wiring, and install the wiring inside control booths where operators communicate to instruments outside of the booth in the field.  Mainly I just install the conduit, pull the wire, terminate, and check to make sure that everything works.”

Reynolds has been doing this work for 5½ years now.  He learned about and became interested in the work through his father, who has been working in this field for 18 years.  Reynolds said:

“I like making things work, turn on – I like building things.  The field looked interesting, so I started through [the electrical department], tried it out, and I liked it.”

Reynolds began working in the office doing small jobs such as installing lighting fixtures.  When he graduated from high school and was hired by ISC to begin full-time work, Reynolds asked if he could be placed in the field, and he was allowed to continue his hands-on training on actual jobsites.  He explained that there he let other journeymen teach him what they knew so that he could have success in his future.  Reynolds is currently continuing his training by attending classes at Lee College to become an Instrument Technician in order to further his knowledge and make more money, and, as he stated, to “learn a lot more.”

When I asked what advice he would give to someone who would like to enter the industry – someone who has heard about jobs in the skilled trades but has no idea what to do to prepare for those jobs, Reynolds said a person must have the drive to learn, have the motivation, be willing to spend time to learn, and “want to do better for yourself.”  He added that many of the skills one learns at work can be used on jobs on one’s own house.

Reynolds has already achieved success in his career, which allows him to build up his savings every week.  Two years ago Reynolds was able to buy a house for his family which includes a son.  He concluded:

“Life is good.  The money’s good.  It pays the bills.  I have extra money to do things with the family.”

You may listen to the interview in the following two-minute video.

Bonus video: Watch this 10-minute video filmed at ABC’s CMEF training facility in La Porte, Texas in which Reynolds describes the different tasks he typically performs in the field, and the measures he takes to work safely at all times.