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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am currently taking construction electrician foundation course at Vancouver Career College.
I am more interesting in the industrial sector of this field and PLC specialist seems like a good option. I've done quite well (95%) for direct current, circuit concept and magnetism.

The PLC course at BCIT requires apprentice level 2 or a motor control course form BCIT. So to my understanding that without sufficient knowledge about AC current(2nd year electrician) it's not really a good idea to take the PLC course yet.

What kind of job should I aim for once I have finished with the foundation course( equivalent for 1st year apprenticeship)?

sorry if I couldn't explain my question well. English isn't my first language.
Thank you for your time.
 

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I am currently taking construction electrician foundation course at Vancouver Career College.
I am more interesting in the industrial sector of this field and PLC specialist seems like a good option. I've done quite well (95%) for direct current, circuit concept and magnetism.

The PLC course at BCIT requires apprentice level 2 or a motor control course form BCIT. So to my understanding that without sufficient knowledge about AC current(2nd year electrician) it's not really a good idea to take the PLC course yet.

What kind of job should I aim for once I have finished with the foundation course( equivalent for 1st year apprenticeship)?

sorry if I couldn't explain my question well. English isn't my first language.
Thank you for your time.
Welcome aboard..
 

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I went to BCIT, but didn't take their automation option. I know people that did and say it was extremely worth while.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I went to BCIT, but didn't take their automation option. I know people that did and say it was extremely worth while.
could you be more specific about the course?
I don't know which automation you are talking about here.

The course I am interested is PLC 1 and 2 with Basic Motor Control as prerequisite since it's going to be a while before I could finish level 2 of electrician apprenticeship.

all 3 courses of PLC 1, 2 and motor control combined to be somewhere around 90 hours. I seriously doubt that I could work in related field with such a minimal training.
 

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I am currently taking construction electrician foundation course at Vancouver Career College.
I am more interesting in the industrial sector of this field and PLC specialist seems like a good option. I've done quite well (95%) for direct current, circuit concept and magnetism.

The PLC course at BCIT requires apprentice level 2 or a motor control course form BCIT. So to my understanding that without sufficient knowledge about AC current(2nd year electrician) it's not really a good idea to take the PLC course yet.

What kind of job should I aim for once I have finished with the foundation course( equivalent for 1st year apprenticeship)?

sorry if I couldn't explain my question well. English isn't my first language.
Thank you for your time.
Does your current employer work in the industrial sector? Once you have enough work experience in the industrial sector (ie you get your license), you may want to look for an employer that does work in the industrial sector.

In Ontario, a 309A license allows you to work in residential, commercial and industrial applications. However, a 442 license allows you to be employed as an industrial electrician. Get your construction & maintenance license, then get your industrial license. Welcome aboard!
 

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Alot of the best programmers I've worked with have been journeyman electricians that want to branch out and get into programming... They have a better understanding of how things should work and what is entailed to make them work.
Might want to get some experience under your belt first.. JMO...
 

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Alot of the best programmers I've worked with have been journeyman electricians that want to branch out and get into programming... They have a better understanding of how things should work and what is entailed to make them work.
Might want to get some experience under your belt first.. JMO...
I second that. This was my path and I will say that over the years, I have always found that my experience in the real world proved to be more valuable than most of what I learned in class. I'll even go so far as to say that the only real value in the piece of paper I got upon graduation is that it added a measure of legitimacy to those who got their jobs based on other pieces of paper and thus found themselves in management positions where they had the power to hire me. That did end up coming in really handy though after I got injured and had to find desk work.

To those who grew up in the real world like I did, that paper may have well been left in the porta-potty. I always had to prove my worth in what I did, not in how well I passed written tests. Unfortunately for them however when the layoff notices would go around, I rarely got one because I was slightly more indispensable, or I guess actually, slightly less dispensable (everyone is dispensable at some point).
 

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Alot of the best programmers I've worked with have been journeyman electricians that want to branch out and get into programming... They have a better understanding of how things should work and what is entailed to make them work.
Might want to get some experience under your belt first.. JMO...
Completely agree.

I've worked with some pretty sharp programmers, but often I need to explain how something they are programming works in the real world.

On that I'll always remember was a guy programming a hot plant (asphalt plant). I was there to install some extra stuff, a few of them being fused disconnects that fed VFDs.

When we were alone in the control house, the programmer sort of sheepishly asked why T1, T2 and T3 were connected to L1, L2 and L3.

Of course this sounds dumb to field electricians who have done it hundreds of times, but stuff like this isn't taught in PLC school. So it isn't dumb at all; the guy had never been taught anything other than PLCs.

Once I explained it to him (tactfully, I never belittle anyone who wants to learn), he caught on fast.

As a side note, it's really easy to tell if an electrical engineer has field experience or not.
 

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You could change gears and take the Electrical Engineering Technology Program, and the automation/instrumentation or computer control option. Or take the Mechatronics Program.

Become a technologist and then don't shy away from field work.

I agree technologists with no field experience are by-and-large useless. But, technologists willing to get in the field and learn are worth hiring.

Seasoned technologists are very valuable and often carry a lot of the best traits of both electricians and engineers.
 

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Not sure how it differs up there in Canada, but I have a similar story to yours, I started taking basic electronics and decided I wanted to do industrial automation. I finished the 2 year course but had no practical experience.

I joined the union apprenticeship and did all the nasty, rewarding, and experience building work that had nothing to do with automation, but everything to do with building a working knowledge of how stuff actually works in the real world. I plugged along long enough until I found an opportunity to get back into working with automation and it was a slam dunk having my commercial industrial license AND the schooling that was so far in the past I thought i had forgot it all.

Its a long road and even though it seems like its moving away from what you want to do i strongly encourage you to get the experience out in the field doing the actual work of being an electrician, because it will leave you in a great position to get back to what you want to later on.

Good luck man!
 

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I joined the union apprenticeship and did all the nasty, rewarding, and experience building work that had nothing to do with automation, but everything to do with building a working knowledge of how stuff actually works in the real world. I plugged along long enough until I found an opportunity to get back into working with automation and it was a slam dunk having my commercial industrial license AND the schooling that was so far in the past I thought i had forgot it all.
Question: did you complete your apprenticeship?
 

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Every Plc based job posting I have ever seen requires at least a red seal or a technologist/engineer degree.
Our PLC guys also need to be journeymen electricians since we expect our guys to do alot of non PLC work. We also don't hire PLC technicians from the outside, all of our technicians (not that we have alot of them) were all journeymen who have worked for us for a minimum of 1 year showing interest in the field and have good control / troubleshooting experience. Then we send them off for training. Hiring someone we don't know to handle vital equipment for our customers scares the hell out of me :eek:
 

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All valid points. A PLC is not mystic, its just a controller, nothing more, we have shrunk down a bunch of relays and ratio controllers into a small box that we call a PLC.

There is nothing mystical or magical about a PLC for the most part I would say that 80% of what you do with a PLC could be done with a crap load of relays, the other 20% can be done with specialized controllers, i.e. temperature, level, flow.

It does not matter, get the paper, not because you want to make a statement but because that is what the world looks for. I have it, took me a long time, but it is a key to open doors even though halfway, more than half the crap I had to do to get it does not relate to the real world.

Today I worked with a crew in the field, I finished up my edits and was bored so I jumped in and ran some gas pipe, it was cool. Just knowing how to program is not a prestigious job no one cares, what matters is at the end of the day you look back on what you have done and you feel satisfied.

The Apprentices were pleasantly surprised when I picked up a paint brush and painted some gas lines, why? Because we are a team and we get things done. I have had the corner office, the secretary, all that, now I am back in the field where I belong, I am one of the guys. Weigh on these comments carefully.

GL
 

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All valid points. A PLC is not mystic, its just a controller, nothing more, we have shrunk down a bunch of relays and ratio controllers into a small box that we call a PLC.

There is nothing mystical or magical about a PLC for the most part I would say that 80% of what you do with a PLC could be done with a crap load of relays, the other 20% can be done with specialized controllers, i.e. temperature, level, flow.

GL
I know what you're saying but the whole "a PLC is just a bunch of relay logic" oversimplification is a pet peeve of mine. The whole point of a modern PLC is to centralize the parameterization and control of a system and get rid of having a whole bunch of independent "specialized controllers".
Replacement of relay logic represents about 5% of what a modern PLC is capable of.
 

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IMHO you need lots of schooling and experience in motor control including VFDs and everything else that constitutes the hardware end of the control system you are involved with. Get yourself into the maintenance/electrical department in a sawmill or one of the other manufacturing businesses there in the greater Vancouver area. Learn all about the real world end of what you want to program.

For the greater part of our work, PLC programmers are sequencers. We work with the operators and leadership to translate what they know about the process into step by step instructions to automate what they do. Essentially we are writing or maintaining an operating system for the plant. When you are working on a specific part of the program that involves heavy interfacing to a particular machine or piece thereof, it's like writing a device driver where you need to understand the hardware thoroughly to write effectively.

So yes, take the motor control course for sure to get the hardware basics, then follow it up with the PLC course. In the meantime however, no harm in dabbling in PLCs yourself on your own time on your own dime. Pick up a Clik or something cheap just to play with that comes with free software. Simple ladder logic is easy to learn and a lot of fun. Use it to program light seqences and you'll learn the basics of what you need to program industrial controls.
 

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Learn how to install it, learn what it does, then learn to be it's Master. The more you know how to do, the more employable you are. If you can install the 480v 4000A service and build out their process line, including start-up, you will always be employed.
 

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Join an electronics, robot building, nerd club for hobby fun time.
Plus all the serious stuff.
:thumbsup:
 

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@Kenny, sorry to step on the pet peeve, I understand. I work with alot of kids that look at control systems as something magical. What I have found is once I dissect it down into its smallest components it is not as complicated as the rest of the world thinks it is. This puts them at ease and they begin to understand.

I did miss Stem's point, which is very true. VFD's are an organism to themselves. So yes this is something that one needs to learn very well.

If you want to get complicated all of us know that setting a PID loop can make you pull your hair out, and if you are doing high speed packaging doing shift registers and the like we can really get complex. Bottom line is learn the basics and practice.

My pet peeve is that I have seen so many "PLC Guys" fail to share the knowledge. When we fail to share the knowledge and fail to hand off the ball to the next generation we are performing a great injustice.

PLC's are simple to me, and I have made them simple to many guys that are gainfully employed and still call me today asking me questions. Funny thing, in the middle of their description of the problem they answer it themselves.

This is the beauty of what we do.

GL
 
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