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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Howdy folks, I'm kind of an odd case. I see these young kids on here all the time going on about how they wanna become electricians, whatever. I am 32 years old, and am currently an IT engineer. I make about $70k a year at a great job, but I just am not feeling it anymore. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed electrical work. As a kid (6-7 years old) I had a couple of Electrical DIY tapes from several home improvement stores that I about wore out from watching so much (I was a strange child). I remember collecting old electrical receptacles, especially non-locking high amp NEMA stuff that I thought was cool (I was a really strange child haha). Both my parents were college professors, so I got pushed down the "academic" path.

I have already rewired both my home and my in-law's home as well (tried to follow best-practices from code books, etc.) We live out in the country with no permitting required. I did have my work inspected by both a certified electrician as well as an inspector before energizing it (sanity check). They were both very impressed and commented that I did better work than a lot of their young guys and that I should look into actually doing this for a "real" job.

I started looking into making the shift, but I am concerned about how much I will have to "re-learn". I had a bit of electrical theory class about a decade ago in college (my major was Industrial Tech / Telecom and Industrial Controls). Is it possible to test through some of the more basic stuff? I'm also worried about how much of a pay cut I will have to endure, especially in an apprenticeship program with a bunch of 17 year olds. I've got a wife and a kid, as well as a mortgage to pay. I'd really like to get out of the corporate world and actually work with my hands in a business that I own, but has my ship sailed?

Thanks!
 

· Super Moderator
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You're not going to get $70k as a first year apprentice, but that doesn't mean you can't get out in the real world and earn a living.

There are some good paying jobs in industrial controls. You need to convince someone that your 4 year degree counts towards 4 years experience in the trade (for professional licensure applications they often do count that time).

You might take a real haircut moving into the job but should advance quicker.

Hope this helps. Welcome to the forums.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You're not going to get $70k as a first year apprentice, but that doesn't mean you can't get out in the real world and earn a living.

There are some good paying jobs in industrial controls. You need to convince someone that your 4 year degree counts towards 4 years experience in the trade (for professional licensure applications they often do count that time).

You might take a real haircut moving into the job but should advance quicker.

Hope this helps. Welcome to the forums.
Thanks for the reassurance! Ha I don't figure I have an ice cube's chance in the deeeeeeep south to do $70k of course, just worried that a jump down to say $11/hr might be too tight. I'll start looking around and see what I can come up with. I suppose I could try to come in the opposite angle and see about doing some work with guys part time. I guess you don't know until you ask right? ;)
 

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In industrial controls there's the pulling wire part of it but there's also the programming part of it.

I know we have some SCADA guys on here and I think they make really good money. It's a niche subsegment of the industry and you're the smartest guy in the room, and that's why they make good money. Keep your eye out for those jobs to see what the market pays, then figure out how to get in the door.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In industrial controls there's the pulling wire part of it but there's also the programming part of it.

I know we have some SCADA guys on here and I think they make really good money. It's a niche subsegment of the industry and you're the smartest guy in the room, and that's why they make good money. Keep your eye out for those jobs to see what the market pays, then figure out how to get in the door.
Thanks for the good tip!
 

· Dope-less Hope Fiend
electrician
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I started my apprenticeship in my late 40s. Up to then, I'd been selling IT hardware, software, and training.

I took a HUGE pay cut.

Plan on 4 years before you have a journeyman license, and at least 3 more if you want a master's license.

My guess is you won't be earning 70K yearly until you have a journeyman license, at least.

Best of luck, whatever you choose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I started my apprenticeship in my late 40s. Up to then, I'd been selling IT hardware, software, and training.

I took a HUGE pay cut.

Plan on 4 years before you have a journeyman license, and at least 3 more if you want a master's license.

My guess is you won't be earning 70K yearly until you have a journeyman license, at least.

Best of luck, whatever you choose.
Thanks! Sounds like your situation is somewhat similar to mine. I'm sure I'll be able to find a way to suck it up for 4 years. What was it like starting an apprenticeship at 40?
 

· Dope-less Hope Fiend
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Thanks! Sounds like your situation is somewhat similar to mine. I'm sure I'll be able to find a way to suck it up for 4 years. What was it like starting an apprenticeship at 40?
I was lucky. I had a wife who earned great money!

The classes took a bit of studying, and I got all the crappy work (demo filthy spaces, hammer-drilling concrete, trench digging). All apprentices get that work.

I won't lie, classes with guys who were almost all under 20 (and acted like high school seniors) was challenging.

Some journeyman were asses, some were great! Luckily, the foreman, and management, were all good!
 

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I was a technician in the military for several years. I got out of the mil and now I'm making $11/hr. I was making $4000/month after tax in the military. While deployed, it was $4400/month. Now my paycheck is $1400/month after tax as a first year apprentice.

The Army lets you join up to age 35. I recommend joining the ARNG and going for the electrician job. They also have an electrical power production job in which you repair/service generators. In the ARNG, you usually get the job you want. You could be a part-time electrician for the Army yet still be an IT technician. You could also go active duty Army. The Air Force just raised its age limit to 39, so you could join the AF also, but the AF isn't as good at putting people into the jobs they are qualified for. They do have an "electrician" job which includes everything under the sun you can imagine doing as an electrician, but this job usually gets outsourced to civilians and it's a dying career field in the AF. The Air National Guard would be better than active duty AF if you want that job. But your best bet is ARNG if you went the military route.
 

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Howdy folks, I'm kind of an odd case. I see these young kids on here all the time going on about how they wanna become electricians, whatever. I am 32 years old, and am currently an IT engineer. I make about $70k a year at a great job, but I just am not feeling it anymore. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed electrical work. As a kid (6-7 years old) I had a couple of Electrical DIY tapes from several home improvement stores that I about wore out from watching so much (I was a strange child). I remember collecting old electrical receptacles, especially non-locking high amp NEMA stuff that I thought was cool (I was a really strange child haha). Both my parents were college professors, so I got pushed down the "academic" path.

I have already rewired both my home and my in-law's home as well (tried to follow best-practices from code books, etc.) We live out in the country with no permitting required. I did have my work inspected by both a certified electrician as well as an inspector before energizing it (sanity check). They were both very impressed and commented that I did better work than a lot of their young guys and that I should look into actually doing this for a "real" job.

I started looking into making the shift, but I am concerned about how much I will have to "re-learn". I had a bit of electrical theory class about a decade ago in college (my major was Industrial Tech / Telecom and Industrial Controls). Is it possible to test through some of the more basic stuff? I'm also worried about how much of a pay cut I will have to endure, especially in an apprenticeship program with a bunch of 17 year olds. I've got a wife and a kid, as well as a mortgage to pay. I'd really like to get out of the corporate world and actually work with my hands in a business that I own, but has my ship sailed?

Thanks!
my own situation is somewhat similar to Dans. I’m soon to be 47 and am just finishing up my first year working post trade school. The first thing to consider is do you have 100% support from your wife&family? Your making 70/yr now, do you have enough savings/other sources of income to comfortably navigate through a few years of making quite possibly significantly less than half that? My own experience is I was able to answer yes to those major questions and the school concern with 20 yr olds was not an issue. No you won’t be carrying on with them as if your younger again but you can laugh with them occasionally and possibly throw in the odd appropriate story when you were their age if you feel comfortable. Your still fairly young so chances are there’d be several other students your age and older.
Another point to consider is how is your level of physical fitness and health? Having rewired houses I’m guessing that’s not an issue either but something to consider.
Also consider that you will be starting at the bottom of the roster having superiors younger than yourself who will make probably twice as much in the first while. I can’t answer the question of your start out pay but what your potential employer will ask themselves is what do you bring to the table to their company that makes you more valuable then the 21 yr old they can hire for 11/hr? I’m guessing you’d bring a lot and most employers will recognize your years of dependability, maturity and enthusiasm about the trade and certainly offer you more than bottom dollar till you begin to prove yourself but that’s no guarantee.
Lots to consider but if you can handle the major income reduction in the medium term the rest won’t really be an issue.
 

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I think one of the things you are going to need to be prepared for is that the environment is going to be less white collar and more blue collar in the electrical field vs. in I.T.. People are going to seem to be less professional. One of the electrical apprentices I work with is in his 40s, but doesn't have any maturity. The slightest thing going wrong makes him lose his cool and start yelling at people and making mild threats of bodily harm. If he did that in the I.T. world or in an office environment, he'd have been fired so fast it would make his head spin. You can tell this guy has no military background because he has absolutely no bearing. Wears his emotions on his sleeve, always losing his temper, etc etc....
 

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Businesses are looking for industrial electrical, instrumentation and control tech's. You already have the back ground required to make 70k with in the first year.

The down side is that a journeyman's card is not required but some company's will pay for you to get one.
 

· Chief Flunky
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Going down the controls side if you know basic algorithms, Boolean logic, Mealy-Moore, that sort of thing, you’re a shoe in for PLC work. The biggest hurdle is learning the “operating system” and the language(s). I started out with basic electrical skills and not much else and solid programming skills. My first call in the mid 1990s for help programming took me a few hours to figure out the language since I’d never seen it before. Once I got it, it was easy.

Two things about controls. There is no “controls degree”. At least not any worth anything. I had controls classes in engineering but they helped very little. Everyone in the controls business more or less falls into it from somewhere else. Some are electricians and others who somehow just naturally “get it”. Others are engineers or IT people that fall into it. Nobody starts out in it. One of the big advantages is you advance to top pay faster since it suits your existing experience and in this area most people doing it don’t have or need electrical licenses. Typically somebody else (lower pay) runs conduit, tray, and wiring. You are building or supplying panels and drawings or doing terminations. There is a lot more engineering. Typical controls companies are say 1 engineer to 1 or 2 builders where a larger electrical shop may have 1 engineer for every dozen electricians if they have one. Most state laws try to make engineers and electricians separate companies (design-build is a violation of NCEES ethics rules) but in controls it’s all blended together.

Second I will say is that if you get into controls, you will be astounded as you get deeper into it how many clueless idiots there are in it. If you have any understanding of programming including planning, basic algorithms, Boolean reduction, that sort of thing you can light the world on fire. Most PLC programmers write spaghetti code. It’s so awful it takes a while just to figure out what they are doing,. The reason is simple...a lot of controls guys never had any programming training other than “this is a normally open contact symbol”. They have no idea of what state machines, transition vs level logic, feed forward-backward, and communication states are all about. Without programming theory and methods they use whatever seems to work. Typically they debug by just adding extra timers, interlocks, and set/reset logic until things seem to be working without ever deleting or fixing the original broken code. Programs tend to be 75% dead code. So the code is fragile, slow, and hard to debug. With an IT background as long as you don’t fall into the trap of writing things in say structured text (Pascal) you’ll be fine. Half the time if I rewrite something it’s about 10-25% of the original size and runs 5-10 times faster with a lot fewer bugs and issues.

From your side, residential is one thing. For the most part you just follow rules and procedures. Code tells you where to put receptacles, how many circuits, what size wire, where to place staples, straps, etc. In industrial especially that all goes away. Either way, having an electrical engineering degree does not prepare you for working on electrical equipment. Maybe design some chips or a circuit board but not power distribution. Even as an engineer in contract engineering houses you learn it all on the job after school.

Most states that recognize school as experience give you credit for 1 year maximum no matter how many years. You can do a four year construction technology type degree and it counts for one year. The states recognize that on the job training is far more valuable.
 

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It would seem that an IT person would have skills that could translate into the realm of PLC's and if you are an analytical thinker you might pick up on it quicker than others. You obviously have computing skills and understand networking so you may transition quickly. The funny thing is that I have seen mechanics that have switched trades and surpass Journeymen Electricians in just a few months of working in the trade. It's all in what you put into it and how well you can extirpate the information.
Some people like to build things and work with their hands and would prefer not to be sitting in a chair programming PLC's.
It really depends on what you like to do but the demand for Electricians that can program and set up complex systems is probably greater and the pay is too.
It's kind of a big step for some. Life is short and you deserve to be doing what you like as long as you can afford the initial pay cut.
 

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I make about $70k a year at a great job, but I just am not feeling it anymore.
Im 69 and retired after doing construction and electrical work most of my life. Let me tell you, I'm feeling it.

When you start to dig trenches and work off ladders, you will start feeling it :)

You're just a kid and your ship won't sail for another few decades.

I wouldn't let go of a 70K job to start over as an electrician. I'd suggest looking deeper into why you are not feeling it. If you had a great wife but just wasn't feeling it, you'd probably look into counseling. Do the same thing here. Figure out why you are dissatisfied and look for solutions. Maybe you are just bored and could look to take on more responsibilities or new areas of your job.

Also, the first time you have to take a dump in a J-Jon on a construction site, you will regret your decision.
 
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