After taking college courses for two years and holding several jobs with limited opportunities for growth, Josiah Thorngate of Middletown, Connecticut, applied to an electrical apprenticeship program that a friend had recommended. At 31, Josiah is now embarking on a new career and has big plans for his family’s future.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricians earn above the national median at $52,720 per year (slightly more in Connecticut), and the occupation is expected to grow 9 percent between 2016 and 2026. The wages and long-term security offered by this field appealed to Josiah, who wanted his next job to do more than just pay the bills.
As part of the four-year apprenticeship through the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) of New England, Josiah started working for Electrical Energy Systems Corp. in Southington. Josiah quickly earned a reputation among his peers for his skills. He enjoyed tackling complex tasks and troubleshooting problems, and felt a sense of pride in seeing the well-planned final product.
After he graduated as valedictorian of his apprenticeship class in 2017, Josiah received his electrician’s license and has continued working for the company as a journeyman.
“I’m very blessed with the timing of coming into the trade, and the company I work for has been great,” said Josiah, who is married with a 4-year-old daughter. “The wages easily provide a livable income and there are opportunities for growth ... and the ability to put money away for retirement is absolutely there.”
IEC New England apprentices learn on the job, receive formal classroom instruction, and may be awarded up to 40 college credits that can be applied toward a four-year degree. Last October, Josiah was chosen to represent his IEC chapter at the IEC National Apprentice of the Year Wire-Off Competition, where top apprentices from around the country demonstrate their skills.
Today he’s looking forward to a brighter future, confident in the knowledge that he is now equipped with the skills for an in-demand career.
“The program gave me a great direction in life and I’m working toward a sustainable future for myself and my family,” said Josiah. “There is always a need for electricians.”
James Lally is a public affairs specialist for the Labor Department in Boston.