EL RENO — Erica McElyea has come to a simple conclusion. She's wired differently.
A fascination with electricity drove her to explore career options in the field. The need for training led her to Canadian Valley Technology Center.
McElyea, 24, of Bethany, enrolled in the daytime Electrical Trades Technology program, despite knowing she was in unfamiliar territory.
She admits to feeling uneasy about her limited knowledge of the field and the fact there are few women in the industry.
“I knew nothing about electricity before coming here,” she said. “At my high school in St. Louis, they didn't have electrical training.
“I found that I fit in with the guys pretty much right away. When I first came, they were kind of reserved. They thought that they kind of had to watch themselves with a lady in here. I just wanted them to be themselves. They have been very supportive.”
Canadian Valley Electrical Trades instructor Micky Marsee said McElyea's drive to achieve has resulted in her being an honors student with a bright future.
“She has become a leader of the class, and you can see her confidence growing and the pride in her work,” Marsee said. “The job market is wide open for Erica in the electrical field, and I see nothing holding her back.”
McElyea has mapped out her career course.
She expects to complete her training within a few months.
The next step is working as an electrician's apprentice. Before electricians are allowed to work without supervision, they must serve an apprenticeship.
Graduates of Canadian Valley's Electrical Trades training qualify for a full year of apprenticeship training. They need only work two and a half to three years in the field before being eligible to sit for the journeyman's licensure exam.
“I'm excited,” McElyea said. “It is a trade that will never go out of demand. You're always going to need electricity.
“I would like to do new construction in residential housing when I finish. Eventually, I want to own my own business.”
Bill Kramer is communications and marketing coordinator for Canadian Valley Technology Center.
To learn more
For more information about the Canadian Valley Technology Center, go to www.cvtech.edu.