Today’s Electricians’ Mate (EM) rating is descended from the Electrician rating, which was established in 1883. Not coincidentally, that was also the year that electrical lights—238 lamps in all—were installed on the USS Trenton between June 7 and August 21. The success of this new source of illumination, which produced less heat and odors than previous lighting methods, led to similar systems being installed on the Omaha, Atlanta, and Boston, the latter two being among the first steel ships of the “New Navy.”

In 1921, the Electrician rating was renamed Electrician’s Mate, and a slew of Specialist ratings were created for it during World War II. Currently, the EM rating has two jobs—Electrical Systems Maintainer and Electrical Systems Technician—and a Service rating of EMN, or Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear), which has six jobs divided into surface and submarine categories.

Just how much training Sailors pursuing the EM rating can expect to undergo depends on which career path they choose. Electrician’s Mates slated to serve on non-nuclear ships can look forward to approximately 18 weeks of training at Naval Station Great Lakes. For those destined for the EMN rating, that period can last a yea  and a half, with the vast majority of that time spent in Charleston, South Carolina. The last 20 weeks are devoted to on-the-job training at a live nuclear power plant.

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