CV Tech Graduate Mathes Getting A Charge Out of Career, Life

Rory Mathes


YUKON – Where there is power, there must also be knowledge, says Rory Mathes.

Mathes, 39, of Yukon, has invested considerable classroom time and on-job training in his quest to become a licensed journeyman electrician.

He became an apprentice technician upon completion of the Electrical Trades program at Canadian Valley Technology Center in 2011.

The electrical industry is steeped in tradition. Skills are reinforced through a time-honored apprenticeship in which licensed journeymen teach lesser-skilled apprentices on the job. And for good reason.

Most 120-volt household circuits are wired to deliver 15 to 20 amps of current. Currents of 50 to 100 milliamps (1/1,000 of one amp) can kill a person or cause ventricular fibrillation, according to information supplied by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Nevertheless, electricity is a necessity to a world that is plugged in.

Mathes said his interest in the industry was sparked by a desire to use his hands and to help people by keeping their electricity flowing smoothly.

He was offered his first job while leaving the stage at the National Technical Honor Society induction ceremony in 2011, said CV Tech Electrical Trades instructor Micky Marsee.

Since then, Mathes said he has enjoyed a whirlwind experience while furthering his education and while working as an electrical apprentice with the Western Oklahoma Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (or JATC) in Oklahoma City.

Mathes completes the required 960 hours of classroom time and 8,000 hours of on-job training (the minimum required for applying for journeyman licensure) in October. He has been chosen as this year’s Outstanding Apprentice in the program that is registered with the state Department of Labor.

Marsee said what’s ahead is an enjoyable and profitable career as his former student seeks to provide for his family. Apprentices are paid about $30,000 in starting wages, he said.

The median wage for licensed journeymen electricians last year was roughly $52,000, according to U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Marsee said oft-available overtime pay affords many electricians a very comfortable lifestyle and the ability to make considerably more than the median wage.

Mathes said he is convinced he made the right career choice.

“Everything has been worth it,” he said. “This has been one of the best life decisions I have ever made. It has paid off in every way possible so far.

“If you do what it is expected of you and then do a little bit more, you’re going to be successful.”

Mathes has more goals in mind. He hopes to move into a general foreman position in the near future. Eventually, he wants to become a licensed electrical contractor.

The industry is ripe for more Rory Matheses, said Clifford Stewart, training director with Western Oklahoma JATC.

“Rory has done very well in our program,” Stewart said. “All of the seminars and training I go to show a skills trade shortage,” Stuart said. “I’m beginning to think it’s across the nation. They’ve been talking about the shortage for 20 years or so.”

Stewart’s observations are supported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows the job prospects for electricians should be very good, because many employers report difficulty finding qualified applicants. Employment of electricians is expected to grow 14 percent from until 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.