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Old 08-07-2010, 12:39 PM   #1
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Trying to get License .. possible roadblock


I have been doing electrical work wiring outdoor signs, installing ceiling fans adding circuits, breakers, plugs, moters, lifts and lights for at least 25 years (on the side for friends and family). I was in the Air Force for 8 years doing highly technical electronics, data acquisition and high voltage installs (this was 20 years ago). I have been doing scientific data acquisition and computer engineering and some electrical work for the past 25 years. I have a bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering.

With all that said I enjoy doing electrical work part time but since I'm older and hopefully smarter I realize the importance of getting things inspected. All the work I do has always been above code.

So now I'm trying to get my license. The current regulations say that I can count my degree as 3 years of experience towards the requirement of having 4 years experiance to get my license. The problem is this extra year. I am not going to quit my day job but I still want to get this license. What are my options ? Any advice ?

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Old 08-07-2010, 12:46 PM   #2
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Wow, that's a shame that an EE degree counts towards experience. Classroom time learning electrical engineering has absolutely nothing to do with practical electrical work. On the job experience should be just that.

BTW, thanks for being a trunkslammer. Maybe if you do get your license you'll see how much of a detriment you've been to us honest, law abiding electrician.

I just had to lay off an apprentice because people like you

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Old 08-07-2010, 01:25 PM   #3
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How versed are you in the NEC (or local code)? Can you possibly schmooze the AHJ's into letting you take the test based on your personal experience?

This is a problem for many folks unfortunately.
I must say, I am surprised (and personally disagree) that your degree counts for so much towards the required field experience. Truly no offense meant, but your degree and scope of experience is quite removed from the world of construction electrical work. I have heard from many EE's that their degree and experience would almost preclude them from field experience and should seamlessly segue them into the electrical filed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I also think that the 4 years required in your area is nuts. My area requires five and that is not even nearly enough to gain the scope of knowledge you need to succeed in this field.

If you have been doing the work on your own and are getting experience that way that is fine, but working under a licensed master electrician cannot be matched by any other means. The only thing I can say is if you can get a part time gig with someone and work week ends and off times so that you can get the W-2 that you need.
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Old 08-07-2010, 01:47 PM   #4
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Dupe thread. They moved your last one to the Off Topic forum.
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:06 PM   #5
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2 threads on the same Off Topic issue merged
Please do not start multiple threads on this issue
It is NOT a DIY issue, which is what this site is for
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:29 PM   #6
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Sorry for the off topic question...

Proby I know what you mean, I'm just trying to get legal... I'm too old to be someones apprentice...
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:42 PM   #7
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Proby I know what you mean, I'm just trying to get legal... I'm too old to be someones apprentice...
No, you are not too old to be an apprentice. You need many years of solid electrical work. 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Throwing up a ceiling fan and then replacing a receptacle 3 months later just won't cut it. And the EE classroom training won't either.

If you are truly trying to get legit as you say, it's time for you to start playing by the rules.
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:04 AM   #8
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I was thinking of actually doing electrical on the side, but given the requirements, it's not really something you can get a license for "on the side". Has to be a full time thing you get into when you're in school, given you need hours of hands on experience as an apprentice.

It kinda makes sense though, hands on experience beats any school. Who would you rather operate on you, some doctor fresh out of school with like 20 different bacs and other fancy titles, or a doctor with 25 years of quality experience?
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Old 08-08-2010, 07:54 AM   #9
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Red Squirrel, do you have any on the job training, or has it always been DIYing?
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:27 AM   #10
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With 4-5 years of apprenticeship to be a licensed electrician, it's a wonder anyone could afford to become one. How much do apprentices make? You just about have to be a young, single person with few bills to be able to afford to do that. My brother started out in a two year degree program in our community college to be an electrician but ran into a roadblock in trying to find some to hire him as an apprentice. As a result, he became discouraged and discontinued the course.

For a little perspective, I am a NYS licensed and nationally certified Radilolgic Technologist (some still know us as X-ray Tecnicians but that's inaccurate). I work with a heavily regulated environmental substance, ionizing radiation. The State iof NY regulates us similarly to asbestos abatement workers. Still, I was able to complete the required apprenticeship, or clinical experience in our case in the course of the two years required for the degree and go to work full-time after passing the state and federal boards.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:42 AM   #11
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With 4-5 years of apprenticeship to be a licensed electrician, it's a wonder anyone could afford to become one. How much do apprentices make?
My state requires electrical experience, it doesn't matter if you were an apprentice or running work.

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You just about have to be a young, single person with few bills to be able to afford to do that.
Many older people trying to become electrician have second jobs. It's similar to putting yourself thru college while working fulltime, only the apprenticeship pays you instead of costing $20K/year.

Sometimes you have to start at the bottom.

I believe the requirements are too easy. You should need a minimum of 10 years experience to become an electrical contractor. I've learned much more since I got my contractors license than I did during my 5 year apprenticeship. The 5 year apprenticeship is just the basis, after that is when you really start to learn electrical work. To be licensed to be out on your own shouldn't be such a lenient process.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:55 AM   #12
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How much do apprentices make?
I can only speak for my schooling as a union sheet metal worker/HVAC mechanic, but it's pretty common among all unions in the US.

I had 4 years of apprenticeship training, starting at age 23, which consisted of OJT and 8 hours of school every Saturday for 4 years before "turning out" as a Journeyman. I had to drive, or carpool, 120 miles every Saturday for 9 months a year because the apprentice school was in Des Moines.

First years wages were 40% of Journeyman wages, increasing by 15% each year. Full wages commence after turning out successfully.

Apprentices normally start at about 40 to 50 percent of the rate paid to experienced workers. As apprentices acquire more skills, they receive periodic pay increases, until their pay approaches that of experienced workers.
About 32 percent of all sheet metal workers belong to a union. Union workers in some areas receive supplemental wages from the union when they are laid off or experience shortened workweeks.

I should add that I believe the age cut-off for union sheet metal apprentices is 38. They will accept older applicants if you give a good reason and they will also allow prior experience to dictate what year you start out as. The furthest I've known the board to advance someone was to 3rd year even though the applicant had about 8 years experience working non-union. I don't know beans about electrical apprentice programs, so again, this is my experience in my trade.

So, yes, an apprenticeship = a hardship for an older person with a family.
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Last edited by fabrk8r; 08-08-2010 at 12:04 PM. Reason: added age cut-off
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:03 PM   #13
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Electricians are similar. The local IBEW pays the following percentages of journeymen's rate (about $46/hr):

1st 40%
2nd 50%
3rd 60%
4th 70%
5th 80%

So a first year would be making over $18 per hour, plus healthcare, pension, annuity, etc.

But the union rates are much higher than non-union right now, especially in residential work.
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Old 08-08-2010, 01:48 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Red Squirrel View Post
I was thinking of actually doing electrical on the side, but given the requirements, it's not really something you can get a license for "on the side". Has to be a full time thing you get into when you're in school, given you need hours of hands on experience as an apprentice.

It kinda makes sense though, hands on experience beats any school. Who would you rather operate on you, some doctor fresh out of school with like 20 different bacs and other fancy titles, or a doctor with 25 years of quality experience?
Fancy Titles ? Do you know what an EE has to learn and do ?
I have had my degree for 15 years and I have been working in the field (electronics) for 31 years. Although I can honestly say my professional career has only been 10% "electrical", (meaning NEC code stuff) I dont think your analogy of the doctor really fits in my case.

Nothing substitutes experience.. I willl/can not argue against this. I think I am knowledgeable enough to do a good job, Inspectors will have the last word on that.

I could do other work in electronics areas like Network Engineering, PC repair or other IT stuff but there is a high demand for electricians in my area. At this point the hardest part (for me) being an electrician is figuring out how to stay out of 150 degree attics.
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Old 08-08-2010, 01:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by satox View Post
At this point the hardest part (for me) being an electrician is figuring out how to stay out of 150 degree attics.
That's the easiest part, you have your employees do the grunt work.

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