Overseas qualifications recognition in USA & job opportunities
Hi Guys and Girls,
Myself and my fiancee took a trip for 5 weeks to the USA in 2011 and we loved it so much, we are considering making the move across the Pacific Ocean to the land of the stars and stripes. I have a few questions about the electrical industry and how I might go about getting a job over there.
I am a licenced electrician and communications technician in Australia. I have a Certificate 3 in Electrical Engineering and a Certificate 2 in Telecommunications engineering. Basically, these are the technical college qualifications that an apprentice has to complete through their electrical apprenticeship here in Australia, along with 4 years of on-the-job training. Our electrical systems here are different to the USA in that they are mostly based on european standards, we run on a 240/415 volt system. But for a person who knows their electrical theory well, adjusting to the different voltages and NEC codes should be fairly easy. I have watched quite a few Mike Holt YouTube videos and they have been very informative.
I have also got an Advanced Diploma in electrical engineering, which is a Technical College degree roughly equivalent to 2 years of a 4 year University bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering. I have training in business, sales, project management and contract management through private training organisations. I also have a Certificate 2 in Electrical Contractor Management, which is the course that electricians need to do to start their own Electrical Contracting business in Australia.
My brief work history is (all in the construction industry):
- 4 years apprentice electrician
- 1 year licenced electrician/comms tech
- 1 year as Estimator/Project Manager for large electrical contracting company
- 2 years as Senior Estimator & National Operations Manager for same company
- 2 years as Electrical Engineering Officer for Electrical & Mechanical Engineering consultancy/design firm. My role was project managing the design and construction of large electrical and mechanical building services projects, providing technical input, leading a team of professional engineers, liaising with clients, architects, other engineering disciplines etc. Projects were mostly hospitals, aged care facilities, schools, universities, commercial buildings etc.
I guess my two main questions are, 1) how would I go about having my Australian qualifications recognised in the USA, and 2) what kind of jobs do you think I might be in the running for? I would prefer to work in an office or managerial role for an electrical contractor or engineering firm rather than out working construction in the field, but I wouldn't rule it out as a possibility.
Also, if there are any electrical contractors or engineers out there who would be willing to sponsor me for a VISA, I guarantee I would make it worth your while by working my butt off for the period of my VISA, and hopefully with a view to US citizenship.
Really appreciate your replies!
Congratulations on your electrical pursuits to date!
My belief is that you will need to work with a placement service known stateside as a “head hunter”. This type of service more directly matches your skill set to those that the employer truly desires. In either case you will need to work with a national employment service due to sponsorship requirements.
State side and I mean which state you land in will determine what they will accept as their requirement of what they will accept for hours. Each State has its own requirements to licensing and how to qualify to their State requirement! Now in respects to any transference of education to the “States” it almost non-existent, most States don’t except anything for College level courses, if not gained in the US.
Welcome to the Forum!
Pretty much every college and tech school has its own policy on how to deal with granting credit for classes taken in foreign schools. Things like math and hard science classes tend to transfer a little easier than technology and skill courses.
Whatever authority is granting whatever license you want will have its own criteria for granting credit for work and/or classes that are outside of the normal US apprenticeship type programs.
If I had to guess, the licensing authorities might well accept that you have learned good mechanical skills if the tasks you were doing in the foreign country are similar enough to those you would need for whatever licensing you want here. I suspect they are going to want to see some showing that you understand the rules here though as well, and I do not think there is a class that can be taken for that.
Just what is it that you want to do here? My guess is that if it is a normal electrician journeyman license that you are after, that you will have to go through at least most of a normal apprenticeship.
If you are looking for an engineering or management position, it might be a little simpler, depending on just what it is you are angling for.
Thanks for your replies so far guys. I can be a little more specific I guess, we will most likely be looking around the Southern California area. I would probably be looking for a job as an estimator, project manager for an electrical contractor, or perhaps an electrical designer or technical officer in an engineering office.
I would prefer not work "on the tools" but wouldn't rule it out if the pay was okay.
Given the economy and the large number of people readily available with the qualifications for the kind of job you are looking for, my guess is that it will be very hard to convince an employer to hire you and sponsor you to come to the US to work, especially in southern California.
I would not completely rule out the possibility, but it seems like a difficult thing to find.
Yeah, point taken. It's not all roses here by any means, but the Australian economy as a whole is going okay. The building services engineering sector is a little slower, but mining and resource sectors are going bananas. I wish the USA immigration laws we're as relaxed as Australia, but I guess you guys would be flooded with people if they were. It's remarkably difficult to get a work Visa in the US
It is fairly easy to get one if there is a need for the job you want to do. For the most part it just requires a sponsor, and they are easy to come by if there is a need.
Originally Posted by Toby_OZ
How's it the other way, mate? and some info on visas
If I showed up in Australia with my Master Electrician's license, 6 years experience and all A's from a 9-month full day trade school training and another 200 hours of continuing education passed the trade school, could I snag a job there? What training would I have to take?
Could I just take a test on your wire colors, grounding requirements, your fruit bats, horrendous lightning, and your funny plugs?
Last time I went to OZ on business the visa form asked if I were a felon. I didn't know how to answer, was it still required?
The usual work visa is H-1B but that is typically for jobs that require college degrees and are usually quickly gobbled up by high tech companies.
There is a special visa for you Aussies: E-3
http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=71256811264a3210VgnVCM100000b92ca60aRCR D&vgnextchannel=71256811264a3210VgnVCM100000b92ca6 0aRCRD
There are also EB-3 But I don't know the requirements for it.
Your problem will be getting a visa that allows you to legally work in the US. Understanding the trade and passing the licensing test will be easy. Getting approval for your experience requirement will be harder.
If you have experience in mining, heavy industries and large infrastructure, and if you can A) get a work visa B) get your mining induction courses done, and C) pass our trade skills recognition course, you could score a job as an electrician in the mines fairly easily, and get paid $100,000+ AUD working 2 weeks on, 1 week off. Only thing is, it will be 1000km from anywhere exciting, unless you like fishing and hunting and have a penchant for the Australian Outback.
A) Work Visa
Not an expert on work visa's in my own country, but I think they are relatively easy. We have a skills shortage in mining and resources industry in terms of engineers, boilermakers, electricians etc. Lots of mining corporations are sponsoring migrants on work Visa's who have skills such as these. Try the Australian Government website, or there are heaps of mining recruitment agencies around.
B) Many training organisations in Australia run these safety courses. They aren't all that difficult, you pay your money, do the course, get your ticket.
C) In Queensland state where I am from, you'd need to go to a TAFE (Technical And Further Education) College and enrol to undertake a course to get your Electrical Fitter Mechanic's licence - this involves practical and theoretical testing on your knowledge of electrical testing mainly, and probably some AS3000 Wiring Rules questions. We do have a high proportion of electricians from the UK and South Africa in particular so it is common here to have migrant skills recognition, and an important part of our economy and development. Bottom line is, we need skilled people, the USA doesn't seem to. You could also bypass this process and get a job as an Electrical Trades Assistant, which basically means you have to work under the supervision of a licenced electrician. You can still earn decent money doing that dependant on your skills and ability. It's not uncommon for ETA's earning $30-40 per hour on a full time wage.
Rightly or wrongly, Australia has very good wages and conditions. Minimum of 4 weeks paid holiday per year, 10 days paid sick leave, paid bereavement leave, high minimum wage, lots of workers right, mandatory 9% employer superannuation payments etc. The approximate average annual wage for a typical electrician working construction in a city area would be about $60,000-$70,000 + 9% super, plus a work van, mobile phone, uniforms, etc. In mining, it would be more like $100,000 - $150,000 plus free accommodation and food while you're on shift (usually about 10-15 days on, 4-7 days off), and maybe even Fly-in, Fly out to a nearby city.
One thing to note though is that we do have a high cost of living . Assuming the Aussie dollar and the US dollar is at parity, my rough guess would be that most things in Australia would cost about 20-30% more. So if you earn $70k in the USA, that will buy you 20-30% more lifestyle than the same wage in Australia.
So why are you leaving?
Originally Posted by Toby_OZ
Welcome to the forum!