Hello everyone who reads this.
I hope this is in the right category for this but I didn't know where else to post.
Sorry that my first posting here is not exactly a happy one and I don't intend to tell my life story but I need some advice from some people in the electrical trade who are far more seasoned than me and I need to provide adequate info to do it.
Here's the situation/question as quickly as I can describe: I'm in my mid/late 20's, finished an HVAC program for 8 months full time at a tech school, got EPA certified, ended up not liking HVAC/not being very good at it (except for the electrical end) but am interested in possibly pursuing a career as an electrician apprentice or even some kind of low voltage semi-related field (cameras, alarms).
Here's the issue and is what makes a lot of this electrical stuff business-wise very different from what I'm used to in AC.
In AC almost every last company I have ever seen/worked for and heard/seen others work for has had these trainees, helpers and apprentices ride along in company trucks with the techs or lead installers.
Yes you meet an an office, the guy's house, wherever, but you go to the actual job sites in a company truck, mostly just due to the fact that all the materials you need (R 410A cans, pressure tanks, copper, duct materials, etc.) are already in the company vehicle.
HERE is what's unusual about what I know of the electrical, at least the commercial end of it so far, compared to my AC experiences....
Now I have accepted 2 jobs that I unfortunately was not able to do because the gasoline costs and wear & tear on my personal vehicle would have been waaay too much.
The first of these was a place that hired me but wanted me to drive 40 minutes north for 3 straight weeks and be there at 7 am which meant I would have had to get up at 5 in the morning. I also was NOT going to be compensated for gasoline. Before you think I'm a whiny little girl please keep in mind that I have worked various jobs throughout my life and the reason I didn't last at AC was not because I was afraid to work hard, get dirty or bust my hump so to speak but because they were looking for a lead ASAP and hired me knowing I was only at helper level. I was never late, complained, etc. I got stabbed in the back by nails, minor refrigerant burns on my hands (which I quickly learned how not to get) and went to work sick as a dog at times.
The thing is that I know how much my car costs in gasoline.
It's an 04 Mustang, not a Mercedes, but it still guzzles quite a bit. I measure it by notches and there are 3 left once you're at the 1/4 one going to full. Basically $10 per notch for gasoline where I'm at in Florida (so each notch is essentially a quarter tank). Now when I used to drive to the owner's place to do AC work I'd spend about $20-30 each week 5 days a week which is what I'm used to BUT I calculated the INSANE distance that these electrical people wanted me to drive and realized that the amount of gasoline was simply astronomical. I mean I'm talking like $30-40 A DAY!
This happened again with a fire sprinkler place I had accepted a job for too. This time I actually tried and did drive to the first job BUT I found that even to go from their office (a 20 min drive which is nothing) back past my part of the city, to halfway through this other city (only about 1/3 to 1/2 of the actual job's destination) already had cost me nearly 2 notches, like a notch and a half. I had to turn around and politely but pathetically call the guy and decline the job. Considering I was only halfway to the actual job site at best GOING there and not even coming back which would have been another nightmare, I estimated a realistic 3.5-4 notches GONE round trip each day which equates to about $35-40 PER DAY IN GASOLINE CHARGES!!!!!
I'm sorry but to me, this is bats*h*i*t crazy. Consider I was getting paid $12 an hour, which sounded good to me, but do the math and you will quickly see that nearly all the profit I made would have been eaten alive instantly after gasoline costs of perhaps $200 a week!
What if this job had lasted 4 weeks? Or 2 months? I kept doing math and depending on how far out the job was and how long it went on I could and would actually profit around what I would to work a garbage $9.00 pr hr Seven-Eleven job.
It sounds crazy but $150-200 a week in gasoline compared to a mere $20? That adds up mate.
So here's my question... Am I to expect that basically every last commercial electric and maybe even most residential ones will expect me to beat up my own personal vehicle to get to these job sites?
Please remember that I'm not trying to sound like a princess (I'm male btw lol), nor am I trying to sound like I'm too good to drive to the job sites but considering that I am changing careers, have very little money and my family has had a very rough financial time the last few years my concerns for these driving costs are very real.
Am I not cut out for this then? Just based on that alone?
I am going to school part time for a computer design-related career that is a long term interest/passion of mine in the long run but as a 40 hr a week or more day job I really would like to be an electrical guy. I don't see why I can't have a day job and pursue another possible future career interest of mine.
I'm just wondering if I should bother.
I know the owners of lots of these places are not trying to be greedy a-holes on purpose and say, "No!! F*ck you fledgling! You drive 500 miles to the site and kill yourself for me! I'm not letting you get my Escalade seats sweaty!" but you have to understand how it boggles my mind that these dudes pulling $20,000-50,000 contracts for commercial work in a month or 2 supposedly can't afford some more company trucks for helper/apprentices to ride in. I also notice that they sometimes have foremen with their own trucks but never seem to let helpers ride w/ them even though there's room.
Why is this so accepted? Isn't it hard enough just learning and trying to be good at the trade?
AC people have their own trucks, plumbers have their own and hell I've even seen alarm companies with their own... so why not electrical?
I know there are plenty of replaceable helper/apprentice people who would give a limb to learn the trade but again I have to eat so as much as I may like it/want it I'm not going to get screwed over.
Please let me know your opinions. I'm not trying to troll or be a smart a*s*s or anything but if you were in my shoes and gasoline were THIS BIG of a concern I think you guys would understand.