CLINTON ― Jackson native Paul Lavallee’s dream was to parlay his love of trombone into a career in the performing arts. He began playing a different tune after high school when he got a maintenance job at Twin Lakes Summer Camp in Florence.

“My boss was an electrician, and I did a few electrical jobs with him,” he said. “One day I asked him how to become an electrician. Electricity is fascinating, and the whole world runs on electricity to some extent. I got connected with an electric company, and they put me through an apprenticeship program with the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation — the same program I teach now.”

Lavallee found he could enjoy the best of both worlds — performing music and being a successful entrepreneur — by pursuing a career in the electrical trade. Today, he owns his own electrical company, teaches aspiring electricians at the MCEF Training Center, and plays trombone as often as he likes as a member of the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra and other local bands.

“Opportunity is what drew me to the electrical profession,” said Lavallee, 29, who opened Lavallee Electrical Services in Clinton in 2016. “There will always be a demand in the industry for smart, competent people who are hard-working. It’s also reassuring that I can go anywhere, and my qualifications will go with me.”

His experience proves that there are parallels between being an accomplished musician and a master craftsman: both require discipline, focus and a commitment to continuous learning.

“Paul is a great example of the level of professionalism that students aspire to when they complete MCEF programs,” said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. “Trainees come from all walks of life and have different dreams and career goals. We’ve seen Paul work hard and go far in his field, and as an MCEF instructor, he’s preparing more Mississippians for rewarding careers in the construction industry.”

Lavallee pointed out that the electrical profession is governed by the National Electrical Code, a volume that exceeds 1,000 pages and is updated every three years. To become certified and to maintain certification, electricians must be familiar with each edition.

“Certification takes a lot of work, and being a certified licensed electrician is a demanding job,” Lavallee said. “Our industry is always changing because of technology, and there are also offshoots and specialty fields like fiber optics, data and motor control. The more you learn, the more valuable you can be in this growing profession.”

MCEF programs also follow guidelines set by the National Center for Construction Education and Research. NCCER is recognized by the industry as the training, assessment, certification and career development standard for construction and maintenance craft professionals.

Not only can students discover different career tracks and make valuable industry connections through MCEF, but they also can gain college credits. Students in Lavallee’s classes reflect a variety of career journeys and include high school graduates, electricians who are preparing for licensing exams and craft professionals who are interested in learning a new trade.

“I’m most fulfilled when I see the impact my classes have made on students,” Lavallee said. “My main goal is to push them to be the best they can be and to solve problems and think for themselves. Sometimes I’ll run into former students who are doing well as professional electricians, and they will thank me. That makes everything worth it.”

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in more than 100 career and technical programs across the state. The foundation’s mission is to train individuals for the construction and manufacturing industries in Mississippi.

MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades. Learn more at