Professionals in the Electrical Contracting Industry

professionals.pngIs an electrician a professional? That question has been swirling around for the past few months as we challenge the thinking of the Departments of Education and Labor. For the past few years, one of the initiatives in high schools is STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). STEM programs feed students into fields of study that are considered professional. Many of these programs are college programs. I believe that an electrician is a professional and a professional occupation.

A professional is someone who has completed a professional program in a given field. Generally we think of professionals as “white collar,” indicative of someone who works in an office environment. In addition they typically are governed by ethical codes and standards. Sound familiar? Electricians complete a professional, college-level program. Our work is guided and governed by ethical codes, standards, and practices for the safety of the general public.

When recruiting an apprentice, I will often say the smartest people on the jobsite are the electricians because they have the most expansive codebook and they must think on their feet. They need reasoning, math, and problem-solving skills. Our education standards are the highest in the construction industry. We educate our apprentices the same way we educate engineers. We have a four-year curriculum; we teach theory, application, and the rigorous application of math and science. The only difference is that we are an applied science, not a theoretical science. Other fields “prove” what they have learned through a formula; we can actually test, with a meter, to see the answer.

In order to be a professional, we must behave and act like one. Just like respect, it is earned.

Being a professional is a choice; it is not a title given but earned. We need to continue to strive to be professionals and challenge others to see us as professionals.

                                                          10 Traits of a Professional
1 Professionals put customers first, take care of their needs, and anticipate what they need next.
2 Professionals are experts. They have the knowledge and expertise to get the job done.
3 They surpass what is expected.
4 They deliver by being a person of integrity and accountability.
5 They learn to communicate effectively.
6 Professionals are people of high standards. Ethical, honest, and moral character is a paramount standards to have in your business and personal life.
7 They are humble yet generous in their praise for others.
8 Professionals share knowledge.
9 Professionals remember to thank others often and sincerely.
10 They have a positive attitude.

Dan Endris is the Executive Director of IEC of Kentucky and Southern Indiana. He has an MBA from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, and has spent the last 20 years in nonprofit management. Endris also currently serves as Vice President of the IEC Foundation.