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Senior Member
I am reading some of the responses here and see that there is a wealth of information and expierence here. So here's my next question.
Those of you who have employees both large and small and smaller companies...
From what I am seeing, from working in my particular neck of the woods, the companies make a cattle call for whomever can been pipe and keep them just long enough to get all the pipe bent and wire pulled and then leave the rest to their hand full of regular employees to tie everything in, trouble shoot and do all the thinking.
Now on one hand I can understand that, it keeps overhead and benefits cost down, and it beats havin to find work to keep 20 or 30 people busy, when you can comfortably keep 5 busy and pick the rest up from the local un-employment.
But looking at from my own point of view, this practice stinks. First I am 5 courses short of a BS in Electrical Engineering. I dont talk about it on the job most of the time, but I know more theory than a lot of the folks that I work with. I also realize that 80% of what you learn in engineering school has no practical application in the field 80% of the time, there is the 20% of the time when the 20% of the knowledge becomes invaluable. On the other side,when i started, after my mandatory torture test, digging a 110' trench in july in washington to bury feeder between a house and a garage, I spent a lot of my work time, being left on a job with a box of supplies. When you come up like that, you learn to figure your own runs, your own circuits, and solve your own problems.
Working for a contractor feels like vacation for me because you just do what you're told and it seems like they arent trying to get through. They are trying to fill up a certain number of hours. It seems that larger contractors dont have the omph to get through so that they can move on to the next job, where the little guys are always trying to move on to the next thing.
And that left me with the notion of working on my own. I enjoy doing lectrical work. There is nothin better in life than a warm spring day, a freshly framed house and a blue print. No better satisfaction than having wired the whole thing, you go around and flip switches and every thing works, right, the first time.
And I dont think you can get that with more than a handful of employees,and then all of them have to enjoy doing good work.
But what do you all think? And i still dont have a clue on how to use my engineering back ground with my electricians training, except to be a consultant. And I like doing the work.
Any thoughts?


Senior Member
Re: Employees

I am really not sure how to respond to your post? :)

An EE background can have great value. This may provide you with ideas of a better design, or more understanding of how and why equipment works the way it does, and simply greater understanding of electrical fundementals. In some ways, it is better to work below you qualifications and abilities. This ensures over qualification and absolute competencty. In most cases today, workers are required to perform work that is simply above their abilites and qualifications. This is one of the major problems with our industry. :( It never hurts to have a backup either! :D

[ May 04, 2003, 06:07 PM: Message edited by: bphgravity ]

charlie tuna

Senior Member
Re: Employees

the electrical industry is very large and has hundreds of little what i call "nitches". some contractors do "churches" thats their specialty and know how to deal with all the little problems associated with that type of construction and relations with the people calling the shots. i got into large high rise office building tenant buildouts. i was good at it and could take any job out there and make a good profit because i had a very good crew and i provided them with the lastest tools and the proper tools and of course the materials to do the job. i am a union contractor and my men/women are trained (much of it in the field) to do most any task in this field - now some are better than others and thats just the way it is. i had 23 people in the field and was growing - that was a problem - i began to compete on jobs that were expected to be done by favorite union contractors. these were the same generals i had worked with for years and we were all growing together. thats when it hit the fan! i decided right then that i would never have anyone control my business - i worked too many weekends and nights to make this operation what it was.... sooooo i scaled down---way down --to two men! thats where i stand today - doing specialty work - infrared scanning - data logging -- basically fixin the stuff others scew up. it's good - don't deal with any general contractors which means i have a good cash flow.
whichever "nitch" you select, you must gear up for that type of work - which means you need to have the qualified men/women and tools and material to compete with the contractors doing before you. you also need to have sufficient funds to weather out the competitive process meaning til you get to know when to take a job and when to let it go!!! hiring someone who can bend pipe to get you through the rough area of a job is nonsense!! you need that same person throughout the job, if he/she can bend pipe then they can probibly show the others how to pull the wire!!

charlie b

Staff member
Re: Employees

Originally posted by vilasman: ? I still don?t have a clue on how to use my engineering back ground with my electricians training, except to be a consultant. And I like doing the work. Any thoughts?
You make being a consultant sound like a backwards step. There are others (and I?m one) who would suggest that the transition from electrician to engineering consultant can be a great career move. My boss did that; he had his journeyman license before his BS-EE, and now he is a vice president in a medium sized consulting firm. But it boils down to personal desires and goals. My suggestion is that you (1) Take the PEI (Professional Engineering Intern - formerly called the EIT - Engineer in Training) exam as soon as you can. (I think you can even take it before you graduate), and (2) Take the PE exam as soon as you can (generally 4-5 years after graduation). This would open the door for a move into an independent business in the design-build arena, since you would be able to seal your own designs.

Wishing you the best of fortune.
Charlie B.
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