(WACO) – Francisco Santos of Houston already knows where he wants to start his electrical construction career.
“Waco is growing,” said Santos, 22, a student at Texas State Technical College. “I want to stay here and grow with the city. There are new buildings that need to be constructed and old buildings that need attention.”
Santos, a 2014 graduate of Mirabeau B. Lamar High School in Houston’s Upper Kirby district, is scheduled to graduate in August from TSTC with an Electrical Construction certificate. In a recent lab for the Residential Wiring class, Santos said the hands-on lessons he receives help him figure out what mistakes not to make.
Jobs for electricians are expected to increase by more than 59,000 at least through 2026, with a lot contingent on the development of alternative power, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Texas had more than 57,000 electricians in 2016, according to recent data from the federal agency. The Woodlands – Houston – Sugar Land area had the most concentrated number of electricians in Texas with more than 18,000. The Waco area had more than 600 electricians.
Students can earn a certificate in Electrical Construction in TSTC’s Building Construction Technology program. Some students choose to earn the certificate in combination with the Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology or Energy Efficiency Specialist certificate. Students who earn all three earn what is known as the program’s “triple crown.”
Starting this semester, Electrical Construction students can earn hours toward their journeyman license while attending TSTC.
“Students are required to have 8,000 on-the-job training hours under a master electrician before they can qualify to sit for their journeyman exam,” said Letha Novosad, the lead instructor in the Building Construction Technology program, an electrical construction instructor and a master electrician in Waco.
Joe Luna, 55, of Temple is using some of the helicopter mechanic and troubleshooting skills he learned while in the U.S. Army for 15 years to pursue the Electrical Construction certificate. After graduation, he wants to pursue a Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology certificate at TSTC.
“I feel like the oldest in the class, but everyone has something to bring to the table,” Luna said. “All of us complement each other.”
TSTC’s Electrical Construction students wear red shirts when in classes. The program has about 25 students this semester.
“The students have to wear uniforms in business, so we are getting them used to it,” said Earl Leonard, statewide department chair for Building Construction Technology at TSTC. “We have electrical contractors calling us all the time. There are a lot of job opportunities.”
Novosad said Nemmer Electric and Leland Collier Electric, both in Waco, and Walker Engineering, which has locations in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, have hired TSTC graduates in the past.
Corey Morgan, 29, of Lacy Lakeview graduated from TSTC in 2013 with an Electrical Construction certificate. He chose to pursue the electric field because of his grandfather who was a journeyman electrician. After graduation, Morgan was hired at MP Electric in Waco and is an apprentice electrician doing industrial and residential work.
Morgan, a 2007 graduate of Connally High School, said he wired his first receptacle when he was 5 years old.
“I don’t mind the risks associated with it and the hard work,” he said. “You have to take pride in this work. When we take conduit and bend it, it is artwork.”
Morgan said the National Electrical Code guides the work being done across the country.
“That is the big thing with electricians that people don’t understand,” he said. “People can wire a receptacle, but the question is: Did you do it safe and correctly?”
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.