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I'm currently a 3rd year apprentice and I'm in Associated Builders and Contractors 4 year program. But before I started their training program I was taking classes on my own to get an associates degree in Industrial Electrical (emphasis on motor controls and things of that sort) and at the same time getting a certification in PLC's.

I've been told that a career with motor controls/ PLC's is in very high demand and also pays very well. But when I get on job posting sites such as indeed.com or careerbuilder it seems that most of the jobs that come up when I search for "PLC's" require that you have a B.s. in electrical engineering.

I guess my question is for anyone who has experience in these fields, what kind of jobs should I be searching for when I'm done with my schooling? Will this degree/certification do much do boost my résumé and further my career? Or is it just a bit of a waste unless I plan to continue on and get an engineering degree?

Any thoughts, suggestions or info would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Bilge Rat
motors and controls.........
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Im a motor controls / PLC / instrumentation guy. No schooling, lots of studying at home and on the job training. Look up diagnostic electrician, or E/I tech... might be what your looking for..
I do a ton of control/PLC work as well.

Same here, no formal education at all.

I went to work for an electrical contractor, did all sorts of different stuff, and sort of dropped hints now and then that i understood controls.

After I had worked there for about a year or so, we did a co-generator at the local sewer plant. The crew that did the install didn't know much about controls, and the drawings left a LOT to be desired.

When the smoke had cleared, the project manager asked me if I knew anything about controls. He then sent me to the job to see if I could straighten it out, which I did.

This control scheme wasn't exactly easy, the system was 2400 volt with 125DC power-operated circuit breakers. There were two POCO feeds and a tie breaker, plus the breaker in the gen room. All had to have the ability to synch using a Kirk-key.

It took me nearly a week, but in the end it all worked as planned.

That was my break into controls. The company bids control-heavy jobs these days because they know they have a guy who understands them.

I don't know about anywhere else, but I seriously doubt if a degree holds a lot of water in getting control work with an electrical contractor. Maybe it does, maybe not; I just don't know.
 

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Previous experience beats a piece of paper any day.
I got to go with Peewee0413, experience is a greater asset than a degree in this field. I've been doing electrical design and PLC programming for over 15 years and while I do have a 1 year certificate in mechanical engineering from PSU, my experience is really what has helped me. :thumbsup:
 

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Controls guys are a different breed. We tend to think differently than others IMHO. I believe it is a talent and not easily learned, but can be over time. The field experience is where the rubber meets the road. You can draw circuits and prints all day long but until you take a meter to it, you're just a desk jockey. I've been in the field since 77 and went back to college in 90 (Purdue EE study). The theory and paper was fun but nowhere near as valuable as my years in the field. I drive a desk these days and have since 97 or so, but I never miss a chance to go do training with one of my techs and/or help solve a difficult problem that we can't solve over the phone. Still keep my Volvo loaded with Flukes and the Veto loaded for bear!
 

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I pretwist and then use wire nuts. Solder pots rule.
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Control work is great, but it also must be backed with conventional electrical knowledge.
Learning and working both will lead to easier troubleshooting of control issues.
 

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I wouldn't suggest running off and getting a BS in EE based on a few internet job searches to anyone. Do you want too, are you up to a 4 year degree? Some guys may be better off working as an apprentice getting good at the basics and learning on the job. You are going to need to know the basics anyway. Pay attention to all parts of the job, mechanical, pumps, valves, motors, climate controls, processes...... to be a good control guy you need to know about how the equipment and processes work so you can design controls and troubleshoot them.
 

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In Michigan if you want to do field work you take Electronic/Electrical Technology courses. If you want to go heavily into design theory you take Electrical Engineering courses. I have taken some of both. The engineering side provides a deep understanding of how things work and how I may go about creating something from the ground up. The technology side provided all my practical troubleshooting training and an understanding of common existing systems. In most cases I would say a couple years of technology training should provide enough to start in the controls field. Learn all you can about motor controls/drives there is still a lot of money to be made in that field.
 

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Don't listen to them.

Finish up your EE degree. Then send out resumes to AB, ABB, Baldor, TECO, Siemens, GE and all the other manufacturers and see if that degree counts for anything.
 

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I wouldn't suggest running off and getting a BS in EE based on a few internet job searches to anyone. Do you want too, are you up to a 4 year degree? Some guys may be better off working as an apprentice getting good at the basics and learning on the job. You are going to need to know the basics anyway. Pay attention to all parts of the job, mechanical, pumps, valves, motors, climate controls, processes...... to be a good control guy you need to know about how the equipment and processes work so you can design controls and troubleshoot them.
Exactly
 

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By all means finish your apprenticeship . Then supliment your education with some night classes at a junior college . Also take some computer classes. Remember that a PLC is a computer . Also start looking for a automation contractor. I am a firm beliver in OJT suplimented with classroom training.

LC
 

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Bilge Rat
motors and controls.........
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I wouldn't suggest running off and getting a BS in EE based on a few internet job searches to anyone. Do you want too, are you up to a 4 year degree? Some guys may be better off working as an apprentice getting good at the basics and learning on the job. You are going to need to know the basics anyway. Pay attention to all parts of the job, mechanical, pumps, valves, motors, climate controls, processes...... to be a good control guy you need to know about how the equipment and processes work so you can design controls and troubleshoot them.
This is true.

I spend almost as much, if not more, of my time on mechanical stuff as I do electrical.

Even with engineered drawings, in the end, it's very likely that you'll be designing the control scheme. Very few engineers can handle even the simplest controls.
 

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cie bookstore has an introductory to plc course and they offer an optional hardware pack
the course costs about $165
the optional hardware pack is here
http://www.ciebookstore.com/Products/150-instructional-components-set-for-intro-to-plc.aspx

the course will give you a good start on plc programming and program design.
you can do all kinds of experiments with it.
after your done with the course you can use the slc1000 and other hardware for various small automation projects.
http://www.ciebookstore.com/Category/22-plc-training.aspx

its worth the cost you would pay and you will have it for as long as you want to keep it
 

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cie bookstore has an introductory to plc course and they offer an optional hardware pack
the course costs about $165
the optional hardware pack is here
http://www.ciebookstore.com/Products/150-instructional-components-set-for-intro-to-plc.aspx

the course will give you a good start on plc programming and program design.
you can do all kinds of experiments with it.
after your done with the course you can use the slc1000 and other hardware for various small automation projects.
http://www.ciebookstore.com/Category/22-plc-training.aspx

its worth the cost you would pay and you will have it for as long as you want to keep it
I took the industrial electronics course through CIE many years ago. Very good course on electrical and electronic fundamentals with a slant toward designing electronic circuits.

I would recommend them as far as correspondence courses go, but I think actual classroom courses are more valuable.
 

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I do a lot of plc, control, instrumentation. I don't have a degree, but i work with a lot of people that have a degree in instrumentation, electronics, EE, ect. like the others said experience is the best teacher, but having a degree will get your foot in the door faster than anything. it is becoming one of the only ways now with all the HR hiring policies that are in place now and days.
 

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What bugs me are the guys telling the younger guys that school is not important!
Some tell them a license is bunk too!

I called myself an electrician before I got my license. Now I can prove it.

There are some good electricians here without licenses. My question to those guys is "WHY"? Why not have a license.
Is it to hard? Are you afraid to fail? Why not get a license?

It bothered me to work as an electrician, and had no license to prove it.

Having a license at least shows you have the ability to set goals and accomplish them.
Applicant A has the same experience as applicant B. Applicant B has the license. Applicant B gets the job.
 
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