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Searching for a career path that offers many options and provides a true sense of accomplishment? If you’re technical-minded, like to work with your hands while thinking on your feet and enjoy a variety of work locations, then a career as an electrical worker may just be the job for you.

As a union apprentice electrician or technician, you can:

• Help build the electrical and telecommunications systems that power Northwest Indiana

• Earn a good living while learning an exciting trade

• Work on a variety of projects that challenge your mind and body everyday

• Belong to a tight-knit community of hard-working professionals from different backgrounds

You must be up to the challenge to perform in the field – making the communities where you work a better place to live - and excel in the classroom – maintaining a strong B average at all times?

The Lake County Indiana Electrical Training Center, under the auspices of Certified Electrician, provides apprenticeship opportunities for individuals seeking a degree and career in either the Electrical (Inside Wireman) or Voice-Data-Video (Installer Technician) industry. Certified Electrician represents the partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW Local 697), the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC).

This nationally supported, cutting-edge curriculum prepares students for construction, service and maintenance work in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Instruction and training are both theoretical and proficiency-based, focusing on all segments of the marketplace.

Apprentices achieve journeyman status after successfully completing a 5-year program for Inside Wiremen or a 3-year program for Installer-Technicians. They typically work 8,000 hours on the job with various electrical contractors and attend school for 800 hours during the 5-year program, with most earning at minimum, an Associates degree.

This is a tuition-free program. Electrical apprentices earn a percentage of full journeymen pay, which increases in increments through graduation to full pay, plus excellent medical and dental coverage as well as savings and pension plan benefits.

“It’s our mission to develop the best-trained, most highly motivated and customer-centered workforce in the country,” IBEW/JATC Local 697 Training Director Ken Jania says. “Our training is a blend of rigorous academics and hands-on proficiencies. Apprentices are exposed to all facets of our marketplace. They typically start with residential construction and move on to commercial, industrial, and specialty jobsites.”

On average, 125 students are in the program at any given time, with approximately 25-30 new students enrolled each year, according to Jania.

“The number of apprentices we bring in each year is based on market demand,” he says. “About 70% of local housing projects are done with our people, and with the housing market taking off recently, we are able to immediately employ our people.”

Advanced specialization courses are also available to qualified journeymen in Fiber Optics, Photovoltaic, High Voltage Splicing/Testing, Industrial Automation, Instrumentation and Safety (OSHA 10/30, NFPA 70E, CPR, First Aid).

“Our journeymen receive free training for life,” Jania explains. “It’s important for them to keep up to date. We have close to 1,000 members, and I would say at least 200 have been back for training in the last two years. It’s amazing really.”

In developing a curriculum with the emphasis on continual improvement, Certified Electrician/JATC Local 697 collaborates with major equipment manufacturers and Ivy Tech Community College. Students always have access to the very latest developments affecting their field and the marketplace.

Along with national certification from the Department of Labor and a JATC diploma, students who attain journeymen status (full 5-year program), also earn an Associates degree in Applied Science from Ivy Tech, which gives them the credits necessary to enter a Bachelor degree program as a junior if they choose.

According to Jania, the new state-of-the-art 42,000 square foot facility and training center located on 18 acres in Merrillville features seven large classrooms, a computer lab and applications lab. With an eye on the future, there is also an outdoor classroom featuring an open-air renewable energy laboratory. This lab showcases green technologies including solar panels a reflective white roof (keeps the building cool and reduces energy use in hotter months), a green roof (palletized native plants that provide shade and remove heat from the air while enhancing storm water management and water quality), and a recently completed 160-foot tall 100kilowatt (kw) wind turbine.

“The wind turbine is a great example of our model of training, which is very hands-on,” Jania says. “The group that worked together on the installation of the turbine included iron workers, carpenters, cement finishers and electrical apprentices. Each of these apprenticeships had both instructors and students participating in the wind turbine lab. Apprentices worked on every facet involved with the installation of the turbine – from the rebar reinforcing rods and wood forms that went into the foundation ahead of the concrete to erecting the tower by lifting and assembling individual pieces in sections and finally installing the high voltage wiring and transformer cables so the generator and transformer can deliver electric energy to the grid.”

For students who prefer the interaction of hands-on learning, the path to becoming a certified electrician offers just that.

“It’s very rewarding to see students become so engaged in the process,” Jania adds. “Learning is exciting for them.”

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