What it takes to earn $100,000 a year as an electrician in New York City – News Couple
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What it takes to earn $100,000 a year as an electrician in New York City


Growing up in the Fordham Row section of the Bronx, Vernica Martinez, 40, says she was forced to grow up fast.

“It was a tough neighborhood: a lot of crime, a lot of drugs,” she says. “I wanted to hurry up and get out of the Bronx.”

Martinez started when she was 12, and was passed through the sponsorship system and later, the juvenile detention system. Her father died when she was 16 and her mother died when she was 19.

“I was released on February 16, 1999,” she recalls. “My mother used to tell me ‘I’d rather sleep at night knowing where you are and be safe than lose you completely on the streets’. I’ve been a law-abiding citizen ever since.”

Today, Martinez lives about an hour from the Bronx in Orange County, New York with her children and husband and earns nearly $51 an hour as a tour electrician. She says her positive path has paved the way for her career.

She says, “It was hard, growing up in the Bronx – rough streets. But I survived. It worked.” “The things I went through helped me later in my life.”

Here’s how Martinez did it, and what it takes to earn over $100,000 a year as an electrician in New York City.

Get the job

Martinez was released from the juvenile justice system when she was 17 and planned to complete high school at a traditional school when she learned she was pregnant. Her mother signed the paperwork needed so she could take a GED and start working as a cashier at her local Food Emporium.

“Things started to change for me after I had my daughter,” Martinez recalls. “I was at a shelter for single mothers with their children and I knew my daughter depended on me, so I had to do whatever I had to do, to make sure I was there for her.”

She continues, “I knew she deserved the world and was going to die trying to give it to her. And she was the reason, my daughter, she saved my life. Her existence is because I was able to just focus on her and make sure she had the best life possible.”

Martinez was waiting for a bus near Times Square with her young daughter when she saw an ad for Unconventional Recruitment for Women (NEW) – a New York-based organization that prepares, trains, and puts women for jobs in construction, utility and maintenance occupations. .

“I looked at the billboard that was next to the bus stop,” she recalls. “It had these little numbers through the pull tabs and I ripped it off and said ‘When I get to my mom’s house, I’ll call them. I called, I passed by, and they gave me a briefing and said ‘Come to our open house.’ And the rest was history.”

Martinez started the NEW program and quickly joined the General Construction Workers’ Union, earning nearly $15 an hour.

“Over time, I started seeing the working name of the business because every day I came home in pain, I was tired, I was in pain. [Meanwhile]The electricians were laughing out the door,” she says, prompting her to call the apprenticeship manager at Neo.

I started a six month electrical training program in February of 2002 and also worked as a worker to bring in extra money. Around June 2002, Martinez took her first job as an electrical intern at Local Electricity Union 3 in New York and earned $26 an hour—a rate she says was higher than the typical intern’s wages.

“That was a lot of money for me, because I was 19 and had a baby at home. I thought I was rich,” she says with a laugh.

For nearly six years, Martinez worked her way up to a working electrician on tours, bringing her close to $51 an hour.

During her second year as an electrical trainee at Local 3, Martinez met her future husband, Matthew, who is also an electrician. After learning that they live near each other, they begin to ride the train together and become friends. The couple wore business clothes until their first date.

Martinez says he is “the knight in her shining armor” and also credits her friends for her success.

“I had a great support system, I call them ‘my village’ – my best friend,” she says. “They made sure I got the apprenticeship. They took turns if my daughter was in school and she had to be taken and I couldn’t do it, they did. Getting my friends as support for me was the biggest help.”

day at work

As a tour electrician, Martinez works Monday through Friday and gets up around 3:00 a.m. so she can take her youngest daughter to daycare before boarding the 4:20 a.m. bus to the Port Authority.

She arrives at Port Authority at about 5:45 a.m. and takes the subway or walks to her current construction job, a construction project at New York University in Greenwich Village. She always stopped by for a butter roll and a little coffee on the way.

She arrives at her location around 6:00 so she can have breakfast and get ready for the day before work officially starts at 7:00.

A project foreman provides electricians like Martinez with a blueprint outlining where the cables will be laid and the devices that will eventually be connected. First, you carefully collect all cables and ties and then closely follow the diagram.

Around 8:45 a.m., Martinez usually takes a quick coffee break and around noon, she usually takes a lunch break. Her working day usually ends by 2:15 p.m.

“The day is really short, especially if you have work to do,” she says. “It usually goes by Monday. Sometimes, I’ll work and I’ll feel time fly. Like, it’s lunch time and everyone is gone, but I still work and lose time. I love it: when I can work steadily without getting bored.”

Every night, you try to sleep no later than 9:00 PM

My goal is to beat ‘Jeopardy!’ To sleep every night. If I can sleep before “Danger!” I’m happy.” “And I try not to do extra time, whether it’s late or coming on a Saturday. If it’s available, I stay away from it because I love being home with my kids.”

Vernica Martinez and her two daughters

work to be proud of

Martinez says the financial benefits of being an electrician far outweigh the early hours.

The perks, of course, are the benefits and the money. [Plus] Being an electrician is great because most of the modern world cannot live without us,” she says, referring both to the job security of being in a field in high demand as well as the satisfaction of providing a service that people really need. Part of me being in a job is to start something and finish it, to see the results.”

As part of her local union, Martinez says she has solid health insurance and retirement benefits. She also noted that the transparency of union salaries has given her peace of mind about the amount they are being paid.

However, she acknowledges that being an electrician can be physically daunting and that working conditions can vary greatly depending on the weather and work location.

“The disadvantages of working out are the physical demands, and sometimes it has a negative effect on your body,” she says. “Sometimes I come home dirty and the first thing I want to do is take a shower.”

Despite these challenges, she says, her work has given her a sense of freedom and pride.

“This profession has given me the freedom to do anything I didn’t think I could do…from buying a house, to buying a car, to sending my oldest daughter to college,” Martinez says. “Back where I came from, I would never have thought that this would be my career path in life, or [my path] In general, but I am glad that I listened and paid attention to the little things.

“I know where I come from, I know what I went through to get to where I am, and I’m really proud of myself.”

Do you have a creative or unconventional career path? We love to hear from you! Fill out this form To be considered in a future episode of “On the Job”.

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