With Walter Bentley at the helm, IBEW apprentice programs the way to go

Between the trade-related classroom training and OJT, apprentices’ work includes electrical power and lighting systems, power distribution and meter systems, motor control and programmable logic controllers, building automation systems, energy management systems, packaging systems, manufacturing systems, refining systems, backup power generation systems, uninterruptible power supply systems and instrumentation and the use of fiber optics.
Requirements to be accepted into the electrical apprenticeship program include a non-refundable $25 application fee. Applicants must be 18 years and older, a high school graduate or have a GED, have completed one year of high school algebra or one year post high school algebra, in good health, conscientious, and interested in the trade. A valid Pennsylvania Driver’s License is required during the entire apprenticeship program and if an apprenticeship is offered a physical is required including a drug test.
A major portion of the application process is the Electrician’s Selection Test which applicants must score within the top third to receive an interview. With the next testing period, not until the spring of 2018, Bentley said anyone considering the opportunity has ample time to study and prepare for the test. “Studying the sample test allows a person to see where their weaknesses are.”
The exam consists of 170 multiple choice questions beginning with basic math and ending with job-related reading comprehensions. The test is divided into 16 separate, but related categories; mathematics, vocabulary, reading comprehension and some questions involve the logical sequence for accomplishment of tasks frequently encountered in everyday work situations.
Convinced that the test and requirements are well worth the commitment, Bentley said there are not many opportunities that exist where you can earn while you learn, receive an excellent wage rate, be involved in a career of the future, receive state-of-the-art training, be in the position to receive advancement opportunities, receive paid health insurance and guaranteed pension benefits. Bentley said the average apprentice earns over $150,000 in wages and benefits while learning the trade.
Bentley also said the IBEW Local No. 5 and the Community College of Allegheny County have a partnership that assists electrical apprentices acquire an associate of science degree as they go through the IBEW’s apprenticeship program. Apprentices receive a degree in Electrical Construction Technologies as they become eligible for their Journeymen test with the IBEW.
Before taking the apprentice test in 1977, Bentley said he worked in his father’s cleaning business, worked in the accounting field and in various other positions. He completed the Local 5 Joint Apprentice Training in 1981 and received his Foreman and Superintendent Program certificate from CCAC in 1991. Proud of his accomplishments throughout the years, he said most of his career was spent at the Sargent Electrical Company.
The IBEW has members in both the United States and Canada and stands out among the American unions in the AFL-CIO because it is among the largest and has members in so many skilled occupations. The IBEW represents approximately 750,000 active members and retirees.
The NECA is described to be the voice of the $130 billion electrical construction industry that brings power, light, and communication technology to buildings and communities across the U.S.
Erin Brooks recommends the apprentice program. “The Local IBEW Union No. 5 apprentice program has given me a second chance,” he said. The single father, once incarcerated and in a bad situation, added, “I now have a great career job, I’m not just surviving; me and my family are living.”
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