Tonya Falconer wants other women to know how satisfying an electrician’s career can be.
Apprenticeships are tough to get, but jobs are plentiful once you’ve earned your ticket, she says.
The 27-year-old Sarnian is one of just a few female electricians around and couldn’t be busier since starting her own business in June.
“When I wrote my master’s exam there were about 50 of us and I was the only woman,” she said. “In trade school, I was usually the only girl and none of my instructors were female.”
But Falconer believes that can and should change.
Since earning an apprenticeship, writing her certificate of qualification and going on to earn her master’s, Falconer has had no shortage of work.
She began with a couple of local companies and then realized the dream of operating her own business six months ago.
“I have two young kids and wanted the flexibility that comes with being my own boss,” she said.
But that doesn’t mean fewer hours. An average workweek is 50 to 60 hours, many of them unpaid while she does estimates and paperwork.
But she can pick and choose the times and schedule that around the needs of her husband and daughters, ages two and four.
Falconer’s father is an electrician and the owner of Bliant Electrical in Sarnia.
“I was always interested in what he was doing and in the shop doing stuff with him when we were kids,” she said.
Throughout high school, no one mentioned the possibility of becoming an electrician and she didn’t take shop courses, but did keep up her science and math credits.
At age 18, when it came time to decide on a career, an apprenticeship with her father seemed logical.
“It never even occurred to me that I’d be in a male-dominated trade,” she said. “Luckily I get along with other electrical contractors and haven’t had a lot of (chauvinist) comments.”
However, there has been the odd time a customer or fellow electrician questioned why she became an electrician.
“If a man comments about the ‘girl’ electrician, I just laugh and show them how well I can do the job. It never bothers me. I think it’s a good career for women to get into,” she said.
“It’s a great feeling when you work with your hands and see the results. I like not having to depend on others to fix things.
“There’s nothing like wiring a house and then turning on the switch and seeing how nice it looks.”
Her career also provides a good living. Falconer charges $65 an hour to start.
T.I.B. Electric has offices on Christina Street and can be reached at 519-704-1336. Falconer specializes in residential and commercial work, both renovations and new builds.
Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.