Hunter Qualls, age 17
Miami Valley Career Technology Center Student
First-Year Apprentice at Reliable EMS
How did you learn about apprenticeship?
I originally heard of the apprenticeship program from my Electrical Trades instructor at MVCTC, Mr. Bauer.
What or who inspired you to pursue apprenticeship?
My father is an electrician. After discussing the apprenticeship with him, I decided this was the best program for me.
Where do you work and what is your role?
I work in Troy, Ohio at Reliable EMS as a first-year apprentice.
What does a “day in the life” look like for you?
Each month, I attend high school classes for two weeks then rotate to working for two weeks. I also attend night classes 4-8 hours a week with the IBEW Local 82. Typically, a work day starts with me getting up at 5:45 a.m., arriving at work by 6:45, and signing in before 7:00 a.m. All employees meet to get carts and gather materials to be used for the day, then we go to our job assignment. Morning break is at 9:30, and lunch is at 11:30. At 3:00, clean up begins. Tools and materials are put away for the next day and I sign out at 3:30 p.m. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I go straight from my job to the IBEW Hall for union apprenticeship classes. My class begins at 5:00 p.m. and lasts until 9:00 p.m.
What surprised you most about apprenticeship?
Along with being selected to participate in the apprenticeship, there is a lot of responsibility. Grades, school attendance, job performance, and evening classes all need to be maintained.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I enjoy completing a task and seeing what I have accomplished.
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
Being 17 years old and an apprentice, I am not as knowledgeable as many of those I work with and for. Many of these people have no idea of my age or experience. Keeping everyone happy with my job performance can be difficult at times.
What did it mean to you to receive a paycheck while training?
As a union apprentice, I have added responsibilities of getting to IBEW classes, paying book fees, affording gasoline, etc. A paycheck allows me to cover these costs.
Why did you choose apprenticeship over the traditional college route?
Through the apprenticeship program, I have already entered the job market. As a college alternative, apprenticeship is less expensive. If I choose to continue my education at a later date, that is always possible.
What are your plans for the next 5 years (begin career, more school, etc.)?
I have been fortunate enough to be selected as a first year IBEW union apprentice. At 17, I am the youngest in this program. After high school graduation, I plan to remain in this apprenticeship program for four more years. At the completion of the program, I will have achieved my goal of becoming a journeyman electrician. More schooling could be in my future, also.
Would you recommend apprenticeship to your closest friends?
I would recommend the apprenticeship program to any friends that have career goals firmly in place. This program is taking me where I want to go.
How do you balance work and school?
My schedule is two weeks high school followed by two weeks on the job. I attend night classes every week. I have adjusted to this schedule and find it challenging but not impossible.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your time as an apprentice?
Through MVCTC, I was introduced to the apprenticeship program. At that point, I knew I wanted to go even further. Getting accepted into the IBEW Local 82 Apprenticeship was my biggest hurdle to clear.
What is the best way to attract more talented apprentices like yourself?
Informing high school students about apprenticeship at an earlier age would spark more interest in the program. When the decision is made to attend a technology school, students need to be told about apprenticeship.
What else would you like to tell us about your experience?
I feel the apprenticeship has given me a huge head start toward the goal of becoming a journeyman electrician. Along with completing my final year of high school, I have a challenging and rewarding job that provides me a paycheck and hands-on knowledge of the career I have chosen. Through the IBEW, I have been given the opportunity to complete a five-year program that will groom me in my profession.
Debbie Qualls – Hunter’s Parent
How did you and Hunter learn about apprenticeship?
We first heard about the apprenticeship through Hunter’s instructor in Electrical Trades at MVCTC.
What sparked his interest in apprenticeship?
Although Hunter’s father is an electrician, he really became interested in this career choice when he worked a summer with a small electric company.
Where does Hunter work and what is his role?
Hunter works for Reliable EMS in Troy, Ohio. He is a first year apprentice.
Initially, did you support the idea of apprenticeship?
Hunter has always been supported in his choice.
What surprised you most about apprenticeship?
I was surprised to see how much more responsibility the apprenticeship has cultured in Hunter. He has learned to manage his time much more effectively.
What did it mean to you that Hunter received a paycheck while training?
Hunter’s paycheck is a help financially but, more importantly, it validates his career choice to him. He sees that he will be able to earn a living as an electrician.
Why did you and Hunter choose apprenticeship over a traditional college route?
Hunter was determined to enter a technology school. His father chose that path, also, so we knew the process.
Would you recommend apprenticeship to other parents?
If you have a child that knows the career they wish to pursue and has the drive to work toward it at an early age, the apprenticeship is a great program.
Did you have any misconceptions about apprenticeship prior to your student’s involvement?
I was not familiar with the two weeks school, two weeks work rotation. After becoming accustomed to that, everything went smoothly.
What is the best way to inform other parents about apprenticeship?
Parents need to understand that choosing an apprenticeship program does not rule out college. Many apprentices choose to go to college to further their education.
What else would you like to tell us about your son or daughter’s experience?
Hunter has matured by participating in this program. It is challenging to balance time between high school, a job, IBEW schooling, and friends. Hunter has a much better understanding of the responsibilities associated with the working world than most of his friends.
About Miami Valley Career Technology Center
MVCTC is positioned to influence economic development in five southwestern Ohio counties (Montgomery, Warren, Preble, Darke, and Miami) by preparing students for the 21st century workforce. Students receive challenging, career-focused education, as well as a rigorous academic foundation. This combination has resulted in an array of innovative applications and knowledge that enable MVCTC students to enter post secondary education or the job market with a high comfort level of competency and to be prepared for the global workforce.
About Reliable EMS
Since 2003 Reliable Electrical Mechanical Services, Inc. has been a regional leader in providing electrical and mechanical services for the industrial, commercial and institutional markets.We provide complete design, construction and maintenance services for a diverse customer base in the Western Ohio region.
About IBEW Local 82
The mission of the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (the electrical worker’s training organization) is to develop and standardize training, and to educate the members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association, insuring and providing the Electrical Construction Industry with the most highly trained and highly skilled workforce possible.