The Electric Current Blog


Happy Holidays

Wishing you a season filled with joy and hope!

It’s been another eventful year at the Electrical Alliance. Here are some of our favorite stories from 2022.



The Maryland Electricians Act now offers a statewide Journeyman and Apprentice License.

Read More >


Fast Charging Stations are bringing convenience to electric car owners in the Washington, D.C. area.

Read More >


Environmentalists, contractors, manufacturers, and union members formed a new coalition to advocate for labor standards in green energy legislation.

Read More >


Celebrating the legacy of George Hogan, business manager of the IBEW Local 26.

Read More >


We’re so excited to have partnered with Maryland Center for Construction Education & Innovation on the video ‘The Life Cycle of an Electrician’.

Read More >


Thank you for making 2022 a truly outstanding year. We send you our best wishes for a prosperous and healthy new year.

JATC grad

Video Premiere: ‘The Life Cycle of an Electrician’

We’re so excited to have partnered with Maryland Center for Construction Education & Innovation on the video ‘The Life Cycle of an Electrician’.

The video follows Che’Maiah, Brian, and Chad as they discuss the career stages for an electrician. Skills-based education, hands-on training, and expert guidance from local contractors allow apprentices to move up and eventually become a master electrician or business owner.

Check out the video to see what you can accomplish as part the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee’s apprenticeship program:

Members attending a ceremony.

Uplifting Small, Women-Owned, and Minority Contractors

On October 11, 2022, community and union members came together to uplift small, women-owned, and minority contractors (SWaM) across the Washington, DC region.

The event included electrical, plumbing, steam-fitting, and mechanical contracting unions. Members of IBEW Local 26, UA Local 5 and 602, NECA, MCA, city councils, school boards, and non-profits were all in attendance.

The goal of the event was to shed light on how local unions have influenced SWaM contractors’ career trajectories and the communities they call home.

This sense of support from unions is instrumental in setting individuals up for the rest of their lives. By offering continuing education, trade unions help members break free from college debt, while getting healthcare, and even buying homes. Apprentices come in, earn an education, and walk away with a career path to a more secure way of life.

“The union gave me an opportunity after my mom died when I had none,” said IBEW Local 26 member Claudia Achury.

“I have worked hard to be successful for myself, my kids, and my union. I have just applied to be a Project Manager and am studying to be an electrical engineer. Since I have become an electrician with IBEW, I bought a home and just bought another in South Carolina. Like any woman, I want to be successful.”

Of course, it isn’t only the contractors themselves who benefit from the support of unions. There’s a ripple effect throughout the community when workers are supported—especially SWaM workers.

“I take my job as an elected official and steward of taxpayer dollars very seriously,” said Michele Reiff of the Alexandria School Board.

“If we can make sure that these building modernizations are completed on time and on budget, using the best-trained folks, pay the best wages, keep the highest safety standards, provide job opportunities for city residents, and on-the-job training, that is a win-win.”

Interested in a rewarding career as an electrician?

For more information about our electrical apprenticeship training program, head to our Get Charged Up page.

JATC grad


What year are you in the program?

3rd and Final Year of the Telecomm Program


What Company do you work for?

Cabling Systems Incorporated


What’s it like being a telecomm apprentice?

It’s a lot of fun. I get to try a lot of new things and get a better understanding of what I’m doing at work in the field. I love learning to problem solve and about other aspects of the work that I’m interested in.


What is your favorite subject in the classroom?

Oddly enough I really liked AC/DC theory even though I don’t currently use it at my job.


What is your favorite type of work in the field?

I like audio visual work. With AV I love getting to wire and setup conference rooms: microphones, screens, speakers, phones, etc. I like seeing a project from the barebones up until I get to actually walk the customer through how to use the technology.


How are you staying involved with IBEW?

I joined the sisters of 26 a group for sisters and identifying sisters to come together as females in the trade to share our experiences. Now I’m the recording secretary. Then I joined the EWMC the Electrical Workers Minority Coalition and even got to go to the gala this year. I’m starting to get involved with RENEW which is a club for the apprentices and members under 35 to share their experiences of coming up through the trade.


What do you think sets you apart as an apprentice?

I try to never stop asking questions. That helps me to advance because I’m always taking initiative to take that next step and be a better helper. I’m always trying to anticipate and be helpful to my foreman or supervisor.


What’s next?

I’m reaching out to other apprentices at my company to get them more involved. I want to see more active apprentices in networking and the union before they become Journeyman.

IBEW Local 26 and Environmentalists Pursue a Green Energy Collaboration that Supports Workers 

Lanham, MD – On August 28th environmentalists, contractors, manufacturers, and union members formed a new coalition. The goal of this collaboration is to advocate for labor standards in green energy legislation at the state and local level while working together on active federal projects.

The event was hosted by IBEW Local 26 at their headquarters in Lanham, Maryland and focused on finding ways to pursue a greener future without sacrificing workers’ equity.

The attendees discussed creating partnerships on upcoming projects like EV charging stations and large-scale solar arrays. They also discussed legislative priorities like prevailing wage, wage theft protections, and community workforce agreements.

Historically, labor and the green movement have been at odds over the acceleration towards a clean economy because of low wages in green tech construction and rampant worker abuses.

“It’s a tough ask for a mine worker making ~$60,000/yr or a pipeline welder making ~$70,000/yr to cut their salaries in half installing solar panels, with no healthcare, retirement, or time off,” said Don Slaiman. “The solar industry was rolled out by the Rahm Emanuel staffed White House which prioritized investing in green entrepreneurs to kick start and drive the industry which resulted in prioritizing a race to the bottom. The Biden Administration is emphasizing labor standards and matching sustainable jobs with the goal of achieving a sustainable environment. Green Energy careers!”

This partnership between the labor and environmentalist movements aims to mend that rift and ensure that, moving forward, the transition to a clean economy is equitable for everyone in the community.

The solar installation field represents a unique opportunity for organized labor and the IBEW. These large-scale solar arrays need to be built by union contractors. At the same time, the current solar installers have an opportunity, a pathway to a meaningful career with higher pay and benefits as union electricians.

“Ultimately, we have to make sure we prioritize creating equity as we make transitions to a greener economy,” said Slaiman. “We have to keep both the environment and disaffected communities in mind by continuing to provide good wages and benefits. If we all work together, it is absolutely possible.”


Congratulations to the 2022 electrical apprenticeship program graduates

Electrical engineer using digital multi-meter measuring equipment to checking electric current voltage at circuit breaker in main power distribution board.

235 students are graduating from the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee’s (JATC) electrical apprenticeship program this year. Earlier this June, The Electrical Alliance and our partners celebrated the graduate’s success with a well-deserved day that was completely dedicated to their achievements.

These grads now have Journeyman status which allows them to travel all over the United States and Canada without having to reprove themselves or their skills. This also means they will be able to earn top pay wherever they go. 

Many graduates are currently working with a reputable contractor and will continue to work with them as long as they see fit. Of course, by having Journeyman status and top-level training from the JATC, they’re empowered to move and work wherever life takes them. 

“It gives me such a sense of pride, knowing how hard my staff and the students work to complete the program,” said Christopher M. Cash, a Director of Apprenticeship for the IBEW Local Union 26. “It is not an easy curriculum and they have to work 40 hours a week while keeping up with school. To watch them grow over the 5 years is like night and day. The way this program and this industry changes their lives is amazing.”

One of the most valuable benefits of the JATC program is that it’s equivalent to a four year college degree—without the debt. Students get to earn while they learn as they receive a combination of classroom and on-the-job training. This is why the Electrical Alliance is an active advocate for the trades. For many people, trades are a fruitful alternative to a conventional college education because of the security it provides. 

When it comes to advice for this year’s graduates, Cash stresses they should never stop learning. 

“Set new goals and never stop until you reach those goals,” said Cash. “And challenge yourself to move the JATC program forward in the future by doing your part in recruiting the future of our industry.”

A huge congratulations to 2022’s graduates! Here’s to a bright future for you and your communities. 


Looking for a fulfilling career with rewarding benefits and pay?

The JATC provides education that gives workers the highest standard of classroom and on-the-job training. Unlike most training programs, the JATC doesn’t simply educate you and let you handle the rest. We educate you and then help you find quality employment throughout your career. Education also doesn’t stop at the end of your apprenticeship program. We provide continuous training for apprentices, journeymen, and supervisors throughout their careers. This helps guarantee an adequate supply of trained personnel and a more efficient workforce.

To learn more or to apply, head to


Total Electric Inc. is providing second chances for the incarcerated

electrical technicians working on a pol
Technicians are repairing high voltage transmission systems on electric poles.

For the incarcerated, mentorship and employment opportunities are key to a successful “second chance” outside of prison. Total Electric Inc. is providing just that by hiring inmates and former inmates through the Maryland Department of Corrections and Reentry Program.

Lester McCrobe is a Superintendent/ Safety Director with Total Electric Inc. who has worked in the field for 37 years. He led Total Electric’s inmate initiative after being inspired by his uncle who served 42 years in prison. While doing his time, McCrobe’s uncle worked various jobs for the Maryland Correctional Enterprise metal shop, which armed him with a solid work plan once he was released. 

Seeing how this opportunity benefited his uncle’s transition prompted McCrobe to offer inmates similar opportunities through Total Electric. So, he pursued the Department of Corrections and Reentry Program and got things in order. Today, Total Electric provides employment, home plans, and work plans for inmates and former inmates, helping them successfully reintegrate into society. 

“I wanted to pursue this because there is a great pool of people to pull from who have amazing discipline and are eager to learn,” McCrobe said.

McCrobe says some inmates have existing construction skills or prior electrical experience, while others have clerical skills such as warehouse training. Total Electric works with each individual to align their experience and help them build their skill sets as needed. They start working with the inmates in a prefab shop before transferring them to in-field work once they’re ready.  

“The workers are very appreciative of the opportunity,” said McCrobe. “They’re willing to do anything asked and are very devoted.”

When McCrobe visits the Maryland Correctional metal shop, he says inmates often ask him about home plans and employment upon their release. Knowing that this option is available to them gives them something to look forward to upon their release. 

Of course, challenges can arise sometimes when an inmate has been institutionalized. Depending on how long they were incarcerated, it may take some time for them to adapt to the outside world again. For this reason, McCrobe spends a few hours of his personal time each week meeting with the inmates. Other contractors at Total Electric also provide their support, which helps create a positive team atmosphere. They talk about the inmates’s goals in life and work, and what the inmate can do to stay focused on those goals. 

“It would not be possible for the inmates to make it on the streets in today’s society if it wasn’t for the contractors at Total Electric helping them out,” McCrobe said. 

So far, 80% of the inmates Total Electric has hired have successfully maintained a position with Total Electric. In fact, the first inmate Total Electric hired is still employed with them five years later, and has advanced greatly. This person has even started mentoring other inmates who have come to work with Total Electric. Many of the inmates also attend job fairs in prison systems and at various locations talking about their achievements since they were released. 

McCrobe hopes to continue helping inmates by providing electrical work and mentorship for many years. 

“I believe everyone deserves a second chance,” McCrobe said. “By empowering them to become skilled electricians, we can provide that second chance.” 

Statewide Journeyman and Apprentice License for Maryland Electricians

electrician cutting wires

Thanks to the Maryland Electricians Act, a statewide Journeyman and Apprentice License is finally available

For years, Local 26 electricians had to carry numerous county and city journeyman licenses to practice our trade in Maryland. Finally, this has changed.

The Maryland Electricians Act now offers a statewide Journeyman and Apprentice License. This license goes into effect July 1, 2022.

The Maryland Electricians Act comes after seven years of negotiation in the statehouse and plenty of testifying by your Local 26 representatives. We owe thanks to the bi-partisan effort led by Delegate (R) Kevin Hornberger and Senator (D) Cory McCray (IBEW Local 24 member).

This act brings plenty of important changes to the current licensure process for electricians on both the state and local level.

The crown jewel of the Maryland Electricians Act is an examination waiver for those who hold Maryland jurisdictional licenses. For example, if a worker holds a journeyman’s license in Montgomery County, they can simply apply electronically via the Electricians Act and a Montgomery County will then verify with the state. The worker will pay a nominal fee and then they will receive a Statewide Journeyman’s License without an exam. The deadline for this exam waiver is December 31, 2022.

Another important change to highlight in the Maryland Electricians Act is that it now requires at least one licensed master electrician or journeyperson electrician to be present at each electrical services jobsite. An apprentice electrician can no longer work on a jobsite without a licensed journeyperson electrician present.

There is not yet reciprocity with the District or the state of Virginia, but the Maryland Department of Labor and Licensing is hopeful it can be done. Once in effect, we encourage all journeypersons to obtain and maintain a license in the District, Maryland, and Virginia.

By having a system of statewide-licensed journeypeople, we are helping to unite and support fellow Electrical Alliance contractors, the Local 26, and NECA.

To see the full list of changes brought in by the act, to apply for a License, or to enquire about any questions, go to Maryland Electricians Act.

Students on a campus.

Why high school students are leaning towards apprenticeship programs more than ever

Survey shows less than half of high school students are opting for 4-year college degrees in favor of more career-oriented training programs.

For generations, high school students have felt societal and personal pressures to get a four-year college degree. According to 86% of high school students, that pressure still rings true today. But, it turns out, less than half of these students are actually considering pursuing such degrees.

ECMC Group’s Question the Quo Education Pulse surveys examined high schoolers’ attitudes about their future work and education throughout the pandemic. The surveys, conducted in partnership with VICE Media, included students ages 14-18. They were conducted in February 2020, May 2020, January 2021, and September 2021 to see how the teens’ thoughts around education and work shifted in the pandemic environment.


Students are saying “sayonara” to 4-year college

Between the fundamental shifts in education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of on-the-job learning provided in traditional college, students are changing the way they think about post-secondary education. Instead, they’re prioritizing options that offer a stronger direct connection between education and their career.

ECMC’s latest survey, conducted in September 2021, showed that the number of teens planning to attend a four year college continues to decrease. Less than half are now considering a four-year college degree, even though 86 percent feel pressure to pursue one.


A direct connection to a sustainable career is key

While tuition cost remains a big factor in choosing a school, one of the biggest takeaways from the survey is that a direct connection to a sustainable, well-paying job also ranks as a top factor. Students are extremely focussed on the connection between education and a future career, with 69 percent saying it is important to have on-the-job experiences like apprenticeships and internships.

The survey also showed that more than three quarters of students think about their education and career beyond high school at least weekly and half think about it daily. In addition, 53 percent of students surveyed believe they can achieve professional success with an education that is three years or less.

“These insights indicate teens are extremely tuned in to their future career path but need to know more about the education it takes to get there,” Jeremy Wheaton, president and CEO of ECMC Group, told Contractor Magazine. “Their focus has shifted on their future, weighing what matters most and cutting out the unnecessary. We have an opportunity to illuminate the pathways from high school to postsecondary education, on-the-job learning and careers, and the value education still holds for the future generations of workers.”


A different path: Electrical Alliance and Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee

These survey findings aren’t exactly surprising. After all, there truly is more than one path to success and the traditional classroom experience isn’t for everyone—not to mention the thousands of dollars in student loans that come with it.

With so many more students now rethinking a traditional four-year college degree, the Electrical Alliance and Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) program continues to ignite the careers for even more young people as they enter the workforce. This program trains the electrical and telecommunication workers employed by contractors of the IBEW Local 26 union, which covers the Washington, DC metropolitan area and central to southwest Virginia.

While not all students in the JATC programs are recent high school grads, many are. The program gives these students the ability to directly practice their trade while they learn so they can put their skills to work before graduating (unlike traditional college). For instance, students could learn a skill on Monday and apply it on the job the next day.

Program graduates have the opportunity to earn top dollar anywhere in the U.S., and even to transition from field work to the professional arena as a foremen, estimators, project managers, contractors or business owners. Like college, students have to apply to be accepted—not everyone is cut out for this competitive field. Unlike college, graduates are guaranteed to be well-certified for jobs in their field—and it won’t cost tens of thousands of dollars or require SAT scores for admittance.


Program Details: The JATC Tracks

The JATC offers three fully subsidized tracks that combine cutting-edge classroom and lab-based education with hands-on, in-the-field experience, putting apprentices on a path to great pay, best-in-class benefits and job security with growth potential.


Track 1: Inside Electrical

Inside Electrical is a 5-year program that gives students the perfect balance of instruction and on-the-job training. This is the most popular track chosen by recent high school graduates. Upon completing the program, students have an earning potential of over $96,000/year plus over $40,300 in health and retirement benefits.

During the first four years of the program, students attend one class every other week covering topics such as Ohm’s Law, AC/DC theory and fiber optic theory. For the remainder of their time, they are on the job site, applying the skills they’ve learned in areas like conduit bending, brand circuit wiring, panel and switchgear installations, and fire alarm and security systems. In their last year, they attend two electives while continuing on-site training.


Track 2: Residential

 The Residential Track is a 5-year program that gives students the opportunity to work for top electrical contractors in the Washington Metropolitan area and become a member of a first-rate organization. Students get hands-on experience in the field performing branch circuit wiring, light fixture, receptacle and panelboard installation, and blueprint reading. They also get related classroom instruction one night per week in the first two years. Graduates walk out with an earning potential of over $52,440/year plus $24,733 in health and retirement benefits.


Track 3: Telecommunications

The Telecommunications track is a 3-year program that kickstarts careers as a Teledata/IT networking technician. For the first two years, students attend class once every other week while working with electrical contractors in voice-data-video installations. In their last year, students take electives and continue on-the-job training. Graduates walk out with an earning potential of $57,100 annually, plus $22,973 in health and retirement benefits.


Start your career (or help a young person do so!)

The JATC program is an excellent option for young people seeking a lifelong career (with great pay) that can’t be outsourced, without the burden of student loans. The JATC runs its accredited program in its main state-of-the-art facility located in Lanham, MD. They also have a training facility in Manassas, VA and Roanoke, VA.

The apprenticeship is very competitive and applicants must have strong math and science skills, and pass a test and interview to be accepted.

Head here to learn more about JATC. Applications are accepted year-round.