Despite pay that would satisfy most appetites, Vanderbleek says there are a lot of job openings.
“We can’t find enough people at the present time,” he said. “There’s a huge demand for it.
“When I got in the electrical trade, there was hundreds of people that applied to get in the apprenticeship,” he said of 27 years ago. “You just don’t see that as much anymore.”
But Vanderbleek sure liked it as he hopped around to several jobs last week. “It seems like there’s a lot of variety,” he said. “Every day you are doing something different. Its’s pretty interesting. I love it. Between running bucket trucks and being up in the air, 60-to-70 feet to running conduits to digging ditches, there’s something different every day.”
Vanderbleek actually got his start working nights with Tri-City Electric. He liked the people he worked with and opted to go into the field, doing his apprenticeship with Art-O-Lite in Moline. “Then, when I got done there, I ended up coming over to Tri-City,” he said.
What follows is a Q and A with Vanderbleek.
Q: Years in profession?
A: I went through a five-year apprenticeship through the JATC, through IBEW Local 145.
Q: Pay range?
A: From apprenticehip at about $28,000 per year to over $100,000 for a longtime employee.
A: We work really, really hard. Between pulling wire, running conduit, digging ditches, it’s manual labor. In the electrical field, we have a lot of mind work, where you have to do a lot of figuring of circuits and capacities and transformer sizes and conduit sizes. There’s a lot that goes into calculations what we do, a lot of math involved.
Q: How about the safety aspect?
A: The safety aspect is huge also. Between wearing harnesses, hard hats, safety glasses, you got to be careful what you are doing all the time. Electricity. You got to wear high-voltage gloves and medium voltage gloves. There’s a lot of stuff that’s involved with that. Electricity will kill you instantly.
Q: Why is this work fulfilling?
A: It’s fun to build stuff, and to see your end product is awesome.
Q: Why did you go into this 27 years ago?
A: I came out of high school and I was working part-time at Tri-City Electric at night, after school. I liked the guys worked there and I thought it would be a neat trade to go into.