Historically, women have often pursued work in traditional occupations such as administration, nursing, teaching, and retail. Even with nearly 60 percent of the women living in America participating in the workforce, conventional occupations like the ones just mentioned are still the dominant sources of employment for adult female workers.
While there’s nothing wrong with being a professional nurse or school teacher, there is something wrong with thinking your career options are limited to jobs which have normally been occupied by women. Even though women remain dramatically underrepresented in the construction industry, many opportunities exist for females to enjoy tremendous success in trades such as plumbing and electrical work.
While the electrical field has been dominated by men for decades, it doesn’t mean it’s off-limits to you or any other woman. In fact, it means the industry is probably due for a woman’s touch just like yours.
How to Become a Female Apprentice
The process of becoming an electrician is the same for women as it is for men. You’ll begin your career by applying to an apprentice program. Getting into an electrical apprentice program is extremely competitive and it doesn’t happen overnight. Even if you’ve attended an electrician school to prepare yourself for a career in the electrical field, you’ll still need to complete an apprenticeship before you can become a journeyman or master electrician.
The requirements you’ll need to satisfy to get into an apprentice program vary by state and program, but here are some general prerequisites that apply to just about any program:
- You’re at least 18 years old.
- You have a high school Diploma or an equivalent degree such as a GED.
- You have proof that you passed a year-long algebra course in high school.
- You have a valid driver’s license from the state where your apprenticeship program is located.
- You don’t have a criminal record.
In addition to satisfying the criteria just listed, you’ll have to go through several interviews and pass at least one exam to get into an apprentice program. Once you complete your apprenticeship, you’ll be a journeyman or licensed electrician. To take your career to the next level, you’ll need to gain at least three years of field experience, continue your education, and pass an exam to become a Master Electrician.
What to Expect
As a female electrician, you should expect to be treated the same way your male counterparts are. There is one exception to this rule, however.
Many women electricians are smaller and/or more petite than male electricians are. While an individual’s physical appearance or gender should never be considered when it comes to employment, a person with a comparatively diminutive physical frame may be asked to perform more work in smaller spaces larger electricians can’t access comfortably.
If you’re on the small side and you’re asked to work in tight spaces more frequently than your male coworkers are, you shouldn’t be offended in any way. Instead, you should accept that you’d be asked to do the same work if you were a similarly sized man. Here are some other things you should expect as a female electrician:
- Hard Work: Electrical work is often challenging and riddled with problems. You should expect to pull your equal weight when it comes to the “heavy lifting,” work volume, and problem-solving. When you prove you’re at a jobsite to do your share of the work, you’ll earn the respect of your coworkers and crew.
- Favoritism: You may encounter a time when a crew boss is favoring you because of your gender. It’s critical that you nip this in the bud as quickly as possible, because it will cost you the respect of your peers and build resentment towards you among them. Even when the way you’re treated is favorable, you should still demand to be treated the same way as your peers so you are seen as a serious professional.
- Offers to Help: Some men will offer to help you with your work just to be nice. While their offers don’t mean they doubt your abilities, you should only accept assistance when you need it. If you take advantage of your coworkers’ good nature, it may damage your reputation in the long-term.
Think you have what it takes? StateCE can help you envision and obtain an exciting and rewarding career in this field.