Why I chose to skip the traditional college path and train to become an electrician instead

Why I chose to skip the traditional college path and train to become an electrician instead
Grant Holderman, 18, started his electrician apprenticeship in September.Grant Holderman
  • Grant Holderman is training to be an electrician instead of going to a four-year college.
  • Electricians are in high demand as the US transitions to a greener economy.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Grant Holderman, 18, who is training to become an electrician in New Hampshire. This conversation was edited for length and clarity.

I'm 18 and live in New London, New Hampshire, and graduated from high school in June. Even though a lot of my teachers talked about college, I just never felt it was the right path for me and I didn't want to go into debt.

I love music and playing guitar, but I didn't want to turn a passion into a career. So when my parents hired a carpenter, they mentioned to him that I was interested in getting into the trades. The carpenter connected me to an electrician who was hiring, and he gave me the rundown of doing an apprenticeship.

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In September, I started working at his company, BT Morin Electric. I work more than 40 hours a week and then do my online education at Vermont Technical College. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have class from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

There are more than 40 other people in my class — of all ages. Most are men, but I was surprised by the number of women who are enrolled.


It's a four-year program. It only costs about $1,000 a year, which I'm paying. My boss at BT Morin Electric offered to pay for my education, but then I would owe him a couple years of working after I get my license. I'd like to move away from home.

Right now in school we're learning about safety, electrical codes, and residential wiring. But I'm learning the most by working. I feel like in just two months I've learned more than my entire time in high school. We're hooking up generators, and running wiring throughout homes to outlets, lights, and appliances.

Sometimes it's like solving a puzzle. Just today, there wasn't power in one room of this house we were working in. So we had to find the source of the problem by testing wires and tracing the flow of electricity.

The most challenging part is dealing with the guys I work with. We're a four-man crew. They like to mess with me because I'm the new guy. But I'm glad I get to wake up and go learn. It's just like school, except I'm getting paid.

I earn $15.50 an hour now. That should increase when I demonstrate that I can do the work on my own. Once I get my license in a few years, I'm thinking about moving somewhere and potentially working at a bigger company.


I would like to get into the solar industry. I've done some research and it's like, why aren't we adding more solar than we are now? If I can use my skills to create a better world, I absolutely want to do that. I would feel good going to work knowing I'm helping solve a problem the Earth is facing. It'd be cool to come home and be like, "Yeah, I created renewable energy."