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WiLD

Any electricians out there that can help a kid out?

14 posts in this topic

I was wondering if any electricians out there could give me some help. I have been working construction for about 2 years now doing various different trades. But what i really would like to be is an electrician. I have talked to a couple of the electricians that have worked on the same houses as i have but they had almost exact opposite oppinions on the whole thing. What i was wondering is do you think that it is better to go to school for 2 years or to have on the job training? One said its better to go to school the other said he prefers on the job training. What do you think? Is school the better route? If so do you think that it makes a difference whether you go to a community college or a more expensive college like say dunwoody? Thanks for any replies. E-mail x38_WiLD_38x

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You might try posting this in equipment/expert information.

I understand your plight. My buddy's dad is back to school after like 20 years in the business. He wasn't union so it was pretty tough for him to find work. I know he got his experience by OJT.

I can't help you but others might...

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wild,

i am an electrical contractor. i won't hire anyone who doesn't have a diploma from a 2 year school. you will never get dumber by going to school. by hiring someone with an electrical education, i get a guy that has the basics covered. they start out by teaching you the basic math skills needed. then they teach you basic electricity, you know, the fundamentals. it is too hard to teach someone these things on the job when there are deadlines not to mention tight margins in this tough market. competition in the last 2 years has shrunk margins to the point where profit is no longer possible on alot of jobs. especially in residential work such as new homes. the other thing to consider is the fact that they spend alot of time teaching code. this is an important area because the tests for journeyman and master licenses are extremely difficult. so if you really want to be a sparky, then go to school. you can do it without school,but like i stated, i don't hire without it. any 2 year school is fine in my opinion, i think dunwoody is overrated.

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wild, one more thing: please don't get sucked into the union. it's not all it's cracked up to be.

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As someone who has been on both sides of this debate I think there are a couple pros and cons. Although I'm not a huge union supporter, I currently work in a union job. My union is not very "pro-union" propoganda so its nice. I don't have to deal with all the political stuff that can come with unions.

Unions can be a great plus if you find a job with a union outfit that will pay for you to go to school. Usually they require you work for the union for a couple years after you finish school in order to "pay off" thier investment.

I'm a huge fan of on the job training and thats how I got into the job I'm in now. I worked for several years in a non-union environment getting experience and then found a job in a union workplace. Experience transfered as knowledge. References are important.

I would also say that "where" you go to school is not nearly as important and "how" you do in school. 90% of the real world doesn't care if you got a C at Harvard or an A at Hennepin Tech. If you've got your degree then you should be qualified. Skills can be taught, but quality and reliability come from within.

I am not an electrician, but I am a working man and I've found that the rules are the same in most trades.

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go to school for sure. If you don't you'll be behind your coworkers a couple of years, and that makes you a good grunt. I am a union electrician and glad i went to school. By the way if you go to school now maybe by the time you get out the economy will turn around and that should help finding a job. And yes dunwoody is overrated and overpriced.

good luck

good luck,

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I am also an electrician out of IBEW Local 110. I feel very fortunate to enjoy union benefits and training which I consider to be some of the best available anywhere. I am probably unlike some of the other electricians here in that I work for a large manufacturing facility. The variety of work that I do requires that I have an education and practical working knowledge in working with PLC's, AC and DC drives, and other control and instrumention devices. This is in addition to all of the installation work I do and the necessary troubleshooting to keep machinery rolling. Take any class you can and try to remember that someday you just might be the only one in your crew who can do it. Do not rely on just on the job training. You will be sadly left behind.

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I graduated from Dunwoody last week (A bit disappointed w/ Dunwoody, but industry recognizes the name and I know it's still the best in the metro), and there's no way you learn nearly as much on the job. Here's a sample copied from my resume:

Skills Related to Education

• Firm understanding of electrical circuits and principles

• Ability to troubleshoot circuits with test equipment and mathematical analysis

• Experience wiring motors and transformers (single and three-phase)

• Experience programming and wiring PLC’s and VFD’s

o Familiar with analog and discrete inputs and outputs

• Experience with residential and commercial wiring methods

o Understanding of the NEC and calculations therein

I'm happy to say that from my experience the industry seems to be doing well, I had no trouble finding work and hooked up a couple classmates with jobs that I had turned down. (Contact Us Please) it feels good to be making money again. If you're able to get into the union, they'll give you an education that's similar to trade school, but if you ditch the union early, they'll force you to pay them back - $3500 per year. Don't count on getting into the union without education as it's highly competitive right now (accepting 25 of 250 candidates per term). Remember - Electricians do it with more frequency and less resistance.

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Quote:

I would also say that "where" you go to school is not nearly as important and "how" you do in school. 90% of the real world doesn't care if you got a C at Harvard or an A at Hennepin Tech.


Powerstroke is right on. Don't get caught up in the names of schools, etc. I know plenty of (Contact Us Please) that went to top schools that I wouldn't trust to wash my truck...and conversely many folks who are either self educated or went to lesser-known schools that are on top. School is all about how you use the opportunities available for learning. If you go just to get passing grades and a diploma, I'd say don't waste your time. If you really want to learn, then spend your money on an education.

I also think that getting some experience before you go to school is helpful. The trap is that some people find it hard to trade in a steady paycheck for going back to school. In my opinion your best bet is to do some electrical work on the side while going to school, assuming that you can handle the load. You'll sacrifice two years of partying and being with friends, but you'll be much better off for it in the end.

Just my two cents.

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Quote:

I would also say that "where" you go to school is not nearly as important and "how" you do in school. 90% of the real world doesn't care if you got a C at Harvard or an A at Hennepin Tech.


Powerstroke is right on. Don't get caught up in the names of schools, etc. I know plenty of folks that went to top schools that I wouldn't trust to wash my truck...and conversely many folks who are either self educated or went to lesser-known schools that are on top notch. School is all about how you use the opportunities available for learning. If you go just to get passing grades and a diploma, I'd say don't waste your time. If you really want to learn, then spend your money on an education.

I also think that getting some experience before you go to school is helpful. The trap is that some people find it hard to trade in a steady paycheck for going back to school, once they've been out in the real world for a while. In my opinion your best bet is to do some electrical work on the side while going to school, assuming that you can handle the load. You'll sacrifice two years of partying and being with friends, but you'll be much better off for it in the end.

Just my two cents.

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Go to school. I am a mechanical engineer in the design field. Make sure you get everything you can out of it and learn autocad as part of your schooling. If at some point in time you decide that you don't want to work in the field, there are always design positions at a many Engineering firms. Not only is design, but CA work at these firms as well and an experienced electrician that can walk and talk is always in demand. Other contractor's offer design build services as well. Education is empowerment. With that 2 year degree, you will have more options and they can never take that away from you. Best of luck to you.

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I am not an electrician, but as others have said do not waste your money at Dunwoody. A good friend of mine got his diploma from there. He ended up teaching the class most of the time, because the instructors had no idea what they were teaching. I would try one of the county technical colleges, such as Hennepin Technical College. It will be much cheaper and probably a better education.

My buddy pulled wire for awhile, but ended up working on the manufacturing side. He repairs and maintains factory machines across the country. 50% mechanical/50% electrical. So your not always stuck pulling wire if you find out that it is not for you, there is a broad spectrum of things you can do with your diploma. Good Luck!

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Go to school, you still have to do your time as an apprentice so you will get your ojt anyways. Your chances of passing the state test will be much better if you have your diploma and most shops won't touch you if you don't have it. As much as everyone hates electrical theory you will never learn it going strictly OJT, and not knowing it can make your job pretty tough if you get into any commercial/industrial troubleshooting.

As far as to go union or not that choice will be up to you. Neither side is perfect and both have their major flaws. You will have to listen to both and see what they have to offer in terms of employment, wages, vacation, continuing education and retirement (pension, profit sharing and 401K) and see which side will get you what you want out of life.

For the record I went to Northwest Technical College in Moorhead.

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By all means educate yourself. And when you do decide on a school try not to miss a day. Treat it as a job, pull the best grades you can. Upon completion of the course apply for union apprenticeship because it is all it's cracked up to be.

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