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Old 08-30-2016, 09:19 PM   #1
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Default Electrical Engineering Graduate Starting Over

Hello folks,

I graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree two years ago but could not launch my career in that area. I found that graduate school was unsuitable for me, though I still maintain my interest in electrical systems and circuits. I decided the next logical choice would be to start over as an electrician apprentice.

Right now I am stuck on the best way to break into this trade. I know as a starter with no experience, I am not a great sell. I also fear that my degree would land my resume in the "overqualified" pile. Many people online suggest to knock on doors, toolbox in hand, and apply apply apply. As an option, there is also the Pre-apprenticeship program at my local polytechnic (SAIT). I can afford it, and their employment survey numbers look good, but it's often vilified as a waste of money.

Also, I would like ask: will having my engineering degree will help/hinder my career down this path?

Thank you for your attention!
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Old 08-30-2016, 09:25 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard! you can follow the toolbox in hand and knock on doors approach and try to get a job which is not really bad advice so you can get some practical experience under your belt.

But if you have a degree already maybe apply for some intern positions at engineering firms and get your foot in that door. I'd try to move forward on the path you started out on before I backed off to a more menial position. It's far easier to operate a pencil and calculator than a round nose shovel.
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:12 AM   #3
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...did you take the PE test?
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
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...did you take the PE test?
I'd say no way or he wouldn't be looking for a job.
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Old 08-31-2016, 07:59 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enginerd View Post
Hello folks,

I graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree two years ago but could not launch my career in that area. I found that graduate school was unsuitable for me, though I still maintain my interest in electrical systems and circuits. I decided the next logical choice would be to start over as an electrician apprentice.

Right now I am stuck on the best way to break into this trade. I know as a starter with no experience, I am not a great sell. I also fear that my degree would land my resume in the "overqualified" pile. Many people online suggest to knock on doors, toolbox in hand, and apply apply apply. As an option, there is also the Pre-apprenticeship program at my local polytechnic (SAIT). I can afford it, and their employment survey numbers look good, but it's often vilified as a waste of money.

Also, I would like ask: will having my engineering degree will help/hinder my career down this path?

Thank you for your attention!
That is 1,000% negative. I think you have self-confidence issues which need work. I'm going to suggest getting some self-help books in self-confidence. You have a BSEE and the world is yours. It doesn't matter where in your class you graduated. Electrical engineers are in demand worldwide. There is no reason not to be working in a career which utilizes that degree. Your biggest (2nd biggest) problem right now is explaining to a prospective employer why you have not been working in the field. Make something up and make it good. You don't have to lie but you better come up with something that won't exclude you from a shortlist. When you apply for a job have them think you LOVE electrical engineering, you find it fascinating and you can't get enough of it.

Now go get some books, read them, and get a job as an EE. You can still take the test to get a PE license. You have to put the time in to study but it's worth it.
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Old 08-31-2016, 08:26 AM   #6
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You don't want to be an electrician, use your degree. Sit in a nice air conditioned office, or better yet, your own home making $120K doing something that you apparently have the aptitude for.
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Old 08-31-2016, 08:39 AM   #7
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If you are serious about this, take some awful job that you hate, preferably something trade or industrial. One, it will be good for you, and some money is better than no money. Two, if employers think you're overqualified, they may figure you're really prepared to make the move, not just waste their time until you realize you really want to be an engineer after all.
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Old 08-31-2016, 08:46 AM   #8
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Go the EE route, unless, you want to take a much bigger risk of having to work until you pass on, if your body lasts that long. I'm not being melodramatic just the hard facts of life.
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Old 08-31-2016, 08:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
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You don't want to be an electrician, use your degree. Sit in a nice air conditioned office, or better yet, your own home making $120K doing something that you apparently have the aptitude for.
Actually this might be the better advice. You don't sound like you really want to do this, you just think it's your only option. Compare your post to this guy

Resumé feedback?

I doubt you've exhausted all your possibilities. If you haven't looked into it, consider sales. Engineers aren't always cut out for sales, but if you can hack it, it can be a great job, more money than you think if you do well. If an engineer can develop the people skills for sales, they are pure gold.

I started working with this one company that sells UPS's because they rep a couple brands I like and the owner, who I worked with, was a sharp guy. As he grew, I got to be too small of a fish to deal with him directly, and normally I'd move on. But he hired real sharp young EEs for sales and they do an excellent job for him, and me. If he had hired good golfers and / or good looking girls to sell, like so many do, I'd have moved on.
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Old 08-31-2016, 08:54 AM   #10
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Sorry but Alberta is completely the wrong place to try to break into the trade. When the economy nosedives, engineers are the first to go. Then it's us. You need a different Plan B.

Sorry to be harsh but it's harsh out there.
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Old 08-31-2016, 10:12 AM   #11
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You should try here (Local 424). Better than SAIT and a Union job at the end.
... http://www.ibew424.net/training/pact.html

^^ They only accept 10 or so. Do hurry, next course is January.

You can check/apply at the Calgary Union office but I think the course is in Edmonton.

Unlike 99 I think Alberta is fine. By the time you finish your apprenticeship in four years we will be red hot again.

^^
The timeless story of a construction worker. Feast or famine. I think that's why we Journey.

The Union job is important as a retirement cheque is nice. << remember that.

Edit: I do have a friend that did that. 3rd. year now and hasn't looked back.
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Old 08-31-2016, 11:06 AM   #12
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I've got more than a few friends and relatives that are degreed engineers. Other than a nephew that is a civil engineer none of them work in their field of study. Engineering jobs come in three flavors as a rule of thumb. Boring process jobs where you are stuck in a factory environment for low pay and crappy hours. Design type jobs with long hours, high responsibility and so so pay. Then there are PEs that review plans and designs and often just sell their seal of approval. This is why the nerdy guy passing you the bags at Mickey D's may seem a tad off from the typical burger handler.
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Old 08-31-2016, 01:54 PM   #13
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Your degree is a foot in the door at many companies. When I was in sales, I saw many guys with degrees with a sales territory. Weird part was, most every one of them were mechanical engineers not EE's, and the business was electrical in nature.
My last boss had a marketing degree and owned a motor shop. My sister has a BS degree in chemistry and a MBA and is a human resources director.
My boss before him ran a maintenance dept and he too was a mechanical engineer. He is now the plant manager.
The key for all these people was getting in the door, then making their way up the corporate ladder.

I have zero idea about Canada, but with a degree, especially in my area, engineers are in demand. We have a lot of manufacturing and engineers run these facilities in some capacity and not always doing the job they were trained for in college.
It is the sheep skin that got them in the door.

Get out of the box and apply for professional positions. Your degree immediately gives you the leg up.....Good luck even though I'm sure you will not need any!
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Old 08-31-2016, 06:15 PM   #14
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My brothers been doing design and implementation of control circuits
in Alta for 30 years. High priced contract work. He's not sure he'll
have any work this fall. No surprise a new grad would be having
difficulty getting started out there right now. The trades won't be much
,if any, better. Think about moving. You can always move back to Alta
when things pick up there. Not sure where the most eng jobs are in
Canada these days. Maybe try the hydro co's first. Hydro One and OPG
here in Ontario are lucrative long term employers. Expect other hydro
co's across the country are similar.
Good Luck,
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Old 08-31-2016, 08:12 PM   #15
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Another thought:
If you're willing/able to learn rfrnch well enough to pass an official
bilingual test, you'll have a really good shot at really good jobs with
the feds. Interesting jobs with piles of departments including NavCan,
TSB, StatsCan, and the list goes on. Interesting work, good pay, great
benefits including top notch pension plans. My sister retired from the
TSB last year..........where'd I go wrong.......
P&L
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Old 09-01-2016, 03:31 PM   #16
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Thanks for your advice and feedback everyone!

I appreciate the encouragement to stay in the engineering side of things, but I'm serious about heading the path of electrician.
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Old 09-01-2016, 03:46 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Thanks for your advice and feedback everyone!

I appreciate the encouragement to stay in the engineering side of things, but I'm serious about heading the path of electrician.
Then invest in moving south!!
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Old 09-08-2016, 11:37 AM   #18
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Thanks for posting, enginerd. I'm in somewhat similar boat. I'm probably a little older, but graduated with a degree in math, with some ee courses. I may try that pe exam that was mentioned in the thread, but for now my next step is to apply for the apprenticeship exam.
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Old 09-08-2016, 03:57 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Thanks for posting, enginerd. I'm in somewhat similar boat. I'm probably a little older, but graduated with a degree in math, with some ee courses. I may try that pe exam that was mentioned in the thread, but for now my next step is to apply for the apprenticeship exam.
Welcome aboard! Hope you enjoy your time here.
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Old 10-25-2016, 12:03 AM   #20
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If you can't find work here in Alberta, try the Navy. I worked as a technician in the navy for 6 years and I loved every minute of it. They are always hiring and with your qualifications you could become an Engineering officer and basically run the engineering department on the ship. After your term on the ship you usually get transferred to a jammy desk job in Ottawa.

Also, don't let these guys tell you that you shouldn't be an electrician because you're overqualified. Do what you enjoy. Give it a try, worst thing that happens is you don't like it and you move on to something else.

My only advice to you is don't expect the to be doing a bunch of actual "electrical" work in the first year or so of your apprenticeship, you are mostly just a runner, grabbing tools and materials for the other guys working.
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