I used to do volunteer plumbing work for Habitat for Humanity. Some of
us studied plumbing and some of us studied electrical for a couple of
Saturdays at the local trade school, then we worked under the
supervision of a real plumber or electrician. Then the local building
inspectors decided that non-licensed volunteers could no longer do
electrical and plumbing work. My dad said I should file for an
apprenticeship with the state labor board and then I'd be able to
continue. If I did enough supervised volunteer work, I could apply for
a license. I never looked into it because I didn't like the idea of
probably having to pay dues to a labor union just so I could do
volunteer work. This was maybe 5 or 6 years ago.
I just found out today that my electrical engineering degree should
qualify me to skip the apprenticeship and take the exam to get a "Master
Electrician A" license here in Minnesota. If it was a BSEE I *know* it
would qualify (according to the state's licensing FAQ.) I have a BSEET
rather than a BSEE, but the actual statute is less specific than the FAQ
and my degree should be OK.
I think I'm gonna look into it. For one thing, it would be nice to have
a skilled trade in addition to my profession if my employer decides to
start laying off middle-aged technical folks again.
I hear You Bob when you speak of concerns for MA employment,,but
tell me, Just Where do you get the concept that your professional
background and a desire for a skilled trades recognition should
meet in terms of re-employment at 'hands on' trade level.
For the sake of the discussion pretend I am Interview Panel
'Industry Advisor' member.
If I'm not ready to retire and I can't find another engineering job, I
can put up a $5000 bond and start working for myself as an electrical
contractor. (I haven't studied all the details so don't mock me yet)
It never hurts to have additonal options.
..very true Bob,, always have a route to the rear mapped
out..first Law of Battle Order :-)
Well from your response you wont be needing me (panel Member) <G>
The situation could well be different in your location but
speaking from experience I can say there a number of obstacles to
the type of self employment you envisage that would quickly
frustrate the satisfaction.
Suppliers for one would quickly pick up on the fact you havn't a
clue (tradewise). Financiers and the short term money market
would be loathe to fund any projects for like reasons.
Then there is the Client (Joe-Public, Architects, Consultants and
the like)..its all business Bob,, and like they say.."Its a
Thanks for the response..good luck :-)
I too have lost my job to outsourcing (I am an experienced Computer
programmer/analyst) with little hope in obtaining re-employment. I
too, am considering being an electrician. I have two engineering
degrees (one BSCIS, the other is BSME), although I'm not sure how much
that helps. I have been studying the NEC, but putting that into
practical practice is another story. Does anyone know about
government grants to help me out in becoming an electrician?
I don't think anyone should seriously consider being an electrician or any
other trade without actually working in that trade, under supervision, for a
I will agree 1 & 2 family isn't "rocket science" but there are skills you will
only get by doing the work.
When you kick the "contractor" tar baby you have also added a whole new level
of complexity. Not only are you taking ultimate responsibility for the quality
of the work, you are also running a business and the business part is usually
what sinks most contractors.
There is a big difference between managing a department for a fortune 500 and
actually owning the "day to day" on a business.
BTW a mere $5000 bond is so ridiculous I don't know why they bother. An
unlimited contractor (electric, plumbing HVAC etc) in Florida has to pony up
$75,000 in bond and some say that is not enough. It is easy to leave customers
holding the bag for that amount of money when you make a few bad business
decisions and your company goes belly up.
If you work in a "right to work" state, just about anyone who shows up with a
screwdriver and a rusty pair of Kliens can work as an electrician, under
someone else's license. Try it for a while and see if you have a flair for it.
If you are good your boss will promote you or you can find a better boss.
Good trades are in demand, no matter where you live, it is only the union
dominated areas that value "time" over "skill".
Do that for a couple thousand hours and then you are in a better place to make
a decision if this is really what you want to do.
I would strongly suggest taking some small business credits before you try to
strike out on your own.
Thanks. I don't intend to strike out on my own unless I'm forced to.
But it's nice to not be totally at the mercy of The Company.
I intend to do volunteer work along side "real" electricians -- Habitat
for Humanity (residential experience) and helping with the construction
of our new, very large, church (commercial). The church building
committee has asked for skilled volunteers to keep the costs down.
I agree that experience and on-the-job training are the best teachers,
but it doesn't take me 5000 hours and months of paying union dues to
learn. I'm a quick study.
I already sort-of know what I'm doing and I have a knack for it. I
installed the service entrance in my 50-something year old house about
10 years ago. That's only one small facet, and I don't pretend that I
could pass the license exam right now. (I don't think I would fail it
all *that* miserably either.)
First thing you want to do is find out what rules your particular
state has made about it. It does you no good to be highly trained,
talented, and skilled, if what the state requires is a 4-year
Phisherman. You should try to find out if there is a Workforce Investment
Board (WIB) office in your area. It is a federal program to help people
retrain after their job has been eliminated. They give out grants that do
not have to be repaid.
Try this site for starters: http://www.nawb.org /
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