For Ronald Hopkins, apprenticeship has meant a successful career and lifelong friendships. After decades as an electrician, he loves to encourage new apprentices and challenge their expectations.
“There’s more to this profession than what you see on TV,” he says.
In observance of National Apprenticeship Week in November, the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) hosted a group of current, former, and prospective apprentices in Fort Worth, Texas, and Ronald was there to share his insight. IEC has a national four-year apprenticeship program that requires at least 144 hours of classroom training and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training per year.
Ronald understands the rigors of the program as both a graduate and a current superintendent who consults on the program’s curriculum. He has experienced all the ups and downs in the industry as technology and safety standards have evolved.
Ronald started his apprenticeship in 1982 after relocating to Texas from Las Vegas. As a third generation electrician he understood the value of the program and the career opportunities that would follow. After completing the program with IEC, Ronald became licensed. From his first job more than 30 years ago, Ronald recalls a sense of satisfaction in a job well done.
“When we turn on the power for the first time and everything goes according to plan it’s very exhilarating,” he says.
Today he works as a superintendent, a position he’s held for more than 20 years. He touts continuing education as one of the keys to his success and one of the many reasons he remains involved in growing IEC’s apprenticeship efforts.
His professional success has had benefits for his family as well, as Ronald has been able to provide a comfortable quality of life and opportunities to travel. And he’s made lifelong friendships. Ronald and Stephen Humphrey met in the apprenticeship program and have maintained a working relationship throughout the years, even when their careers led them to different companies. Both contribute to the apprenticeship program at IEC by sharing their experiences and helping to develop the curriculum.
“I would not be where I am today without the apprenticeship program,” said Ronald. “Through the program you get a lot of chances to network. It’s why I have never been without a job.”
To learn more about exploring apprenticeship opportunities, or how apprenticeship can work for your business, visit dol.gov/apprenticeship.
Chauntra Rideaux is a public affairs officer for the U.S. Department of Labor.