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Electrical Apprenticeship ‘Sparks Success And Security’ - Female, 27-Year-Old Electrician Says Her Career ‘Wouldn't Have Been Possible Without Her NECA-IBEW Apprenticeship’

Published Saturday, July 31, 2021
by Joseph Gallivan /Portland Business Tribune
Electrical Apprenticeship ‘Sparks Success And Security’ - Female, 27-Year-Old Electrician Says Her Career ‘Wouldn't Have Been Possible Without Her NECA-IBEW Apprenticeship’

(ESTACADA, OREGON) - Dakotah Quinn bought her first home at age 24.

The 27-year-old Union Electrician lives in Estacada and said her field has opened up a lot of doors for her: financial security, steady work and upward mobility.

As a young professional, Quinn is in high demand.

The need for Construction Workers and Electricians has skyrocketed in recent years as older Workers retire, leaving a shortage of skilled Workers in the Trades.

"It's so hard to find people," she said. "Sometimes you can find people, but they're not the people you want.  I'm not pooh-poohing college, but there's other options.  If you're unsure of what you want to do, there's not a lot to lose."

Growing up in Beavercreek, Quinn said she had one advantage over other kids her age: her father was a Concrete Worker and a Commercial Fisherman.

He taught her how to weld, use a hammer and "cut things up," as she puts it.

Her mother was a Low Voltage Electrician with Bonneville Power.

By the time she was 20, Quinn could walk onto a site and do anything from finishing drywall to building cabinets, but she wasn't always sure what career she wanted.

"In high school I grew up in the country," she told The Business Tribune. "I was really into horses, but I didn't really quite know what I wanted to do.  I knew I didn't want to go into debt to go to college.  I wanted to be financially stable."

There was a lot of pressure to go to college, she said: "It was thought the only route to success was to take on ($100,000) of debt and at eighteen that was just not something I felt I could do."

Quinn heard about an Electrical Apprenticeship through a friend and was impressed that she could earn a decent hourly wage while learning the Trade.

"It's like ($40,000) ‘that they invest in you’ and then eventually you pay it back through your hourly wage when you journey out," she said. "You don't have to pay anything up-front.  So that was a big reason why it appealed to me."

Quinn took on the four-year Apprenticeship with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Her mother's job as an Electrician helped her prepare for the field, she said: "I guess subconsciously I was never afraid of (electrical work).  I hear a lot of times from women especially, 'Oh, I can't do that, that's not for me.'  And I just never thought that.  I wish that more women had more faith in themselves.  If there's one thing I wish I could squash it is people not having faith in themselves to do construction.  There's good pay, good retirement and good medical."

Her NECA-IBEW Electrical Apprenticeship took four-and-a-half years to complete.

Every three months there were breaks from school, but she worked full time throughout.

Other programs take differing amounts of time.

Becoming a Residential Electrician takes two-and-a-half years - low voltage takes three-and-a-half years.

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