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Topic Title: Electrical Engineer Career Path
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Created On: 06 December 2013 08:18 PM
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 06 December 2013 08:18 PM
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Pcritchlow

Posts: 7
Joined: 06 December 2013

Hi All,

Im just posting to requests some advice with regards to an engineering career path. Im 24 years old and since leaving school started working as an electrician and completed my level 2 qualification but was laid off and unfortunately cannot progress to complete my training and become time served without being employed as an electrician. Over the last few years i have been working various jobs to maintain an income while i try to obtain this role but with no such luck.

Ive now come to the conclusion that this path is a dead end at the moment as it depends on others to allow me to gain this opportunity. Engineering has always been something i have been interested in and is an industry i would like to join but im not sure if i have missed the boat with becoming an electrical engineer or Multskilled engineer.

Speaking with training providers i can first obtain BTEC Level 3 in Engineering and then move onto a HNC or HND and have this completed within 4years time leaving me at 28. Do you think this is a viable route as it is not an apprenticeship but putting myself through the education paths to obtain the needed qualifications? And would employers look at me as fully qualified because i have not completed an apprenticeship?

Any help and advice regarding this would be much appreciated as all my research has come from the web as i dont know anyone currently working within these roles.

Thanks.
 07 December 2013 10:36 AM
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Zuiko

Posts: 521
Joined: 14 September 2010

Regarding qualifications, depending on your aptitude for maths and science, you can hit the HNC straight away without bothering about the BTEC ONC. If you are concerned about time then this may be the best route, and you can have the HNC finished in about 2 years.
The maths starts at about A level standard and gets to about the level of maths you will do in a degree in the first and second years.

Try to pick up the John Bird book Higher Engineering Mathematics and get a head start by going through it before you start.

A HNC is definitely worth having in the energy industry - nearly all jobs seem to require one. Make sure the modules in the HNC suit your needs and it will be something you are interested in.

Regarding the apprenticeship. I do not think not having one will work against you. If you have a decent qualification and some experience and are willing to start at a lower pay grade and be trained then it will be fine.

cheers
W
 07 December 2013 01:59 PM
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Pcritchlow

Posts: 7
Joined: 06 December 2013

Il be honest maths is probably my weakest subject! Its not something ive ever been naturally good at but im more than willing to spend the time to understand the maths at that level. From the providers ive looked at so far they all say the requirements is a Level 3 qualification in a related subject which im assuming will be a BTEC / NVQ in Engineering.

If there was a way for me to move straight onto the HNC do you think i would be at a disadvange upon finishing it not having a Level 3 qualification such as the NVQ or BTEC to show my progression?

Is the Maths in the HNC something that if your willing to spend enough time and work at it someone who isnt naturally gifted on the subject would be able to pass?

As for pay grades im not phased by them at the moment as im trying to set out a career plan for the future. Id be more than willing to take the £400 a month offered to apprentices or pay the fees instead of the company if an opportunity would allow me this. Ive found quite a wall with employers when applying as an apprentice at 24 years old. Previously i was working as an electrician but upon completing my Level 2 qualification i was laid off and cannot finish my NVQ 3 so a new direction is needed and engineering has always been a subject ive been highly interested by. Any advice for looking for places as a mature apprentice?
 07 December 2013 02:54 PM
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Zuiko

Posts: 521
Joined: 14 September 2010

Originally posted by: Pcritchlow

From the providers ive looked at so far they all say the requirements is a Level 3 qualification in a related subject which im assuming will be a BTEC / NVQ in Engineering.

They may suggest this, but it is not a hard and fast rule. Especially if you are a paying customer!
Their reasoning would be that you may struggle with the concepts at HNC if you have not done an ONC. I would suggest getting the John Bird books and getting a feel for the subject before parting with your money!

Originally posted by: Pcritchlow
If there was a way for me to move straight onto the HNC do you think i would be at a disadvange upon finishing it not having a Level 3 qualification such as the NVQ or BTEC to show my progression?


Not at all

Originally posted by: Pcritchlow
Is the Maths in the HNC something that if your willing to spend enough time and work at it someone who isnt naturally gifted on the subject would be able to pass?


Yes. No problem at all.

Originally posted by: Pcritchlow
As for pay grades im not phased by them at the moment as im trying to set out a career plan for the future. Id be more than willing to take the £400 a month offered to apprentices or pay the fees instead of the company if an opportunity would allow me this. Ive found quite a wall with employers when applying as an apprentice at 24 years old. Previously i was working as an electrician but upon completing my Level 2 qualification i was laid off and cannot finish my NVQ 3 so a new direction is needed and engineering has always been a subject ive been highly interested by. Any advice for looking for places as a mature apprentice?

If you are interested in the energy industry you could try your local DNO depot. Tell them you have experience, and that you are doing a HNC. Have a look at their web sites in the careers section.
 07 December 2013 03:22 PM
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Pcritchlow

Posts: 7
Joined: 06 December 2013

Thanks for spending the time to answer some of my questions its much appreciated.

I just have one more questions due to it being December im not going to be able to start any of the courses be that the BTEC or HNC until September next year due to missing the intakes. Is there any qualifications or short courses that i could take in this time to get the ball rolling that will benefit me in the industry or should i just try and gain some unpaid work experience work with a company with a hope of them taking me on as an apprentice come next year.
 07 December 2013 10:49 PM
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kengreen

Posts: 400
Joined: 15 April 2013

Dear P,

My greatest concern on reading the above is that you sound discouraged? The hardest step of all is to gain footing at the bottom of the ladder.

There are two things to remember:
(i) one of the biggest bars to being taken on is the admission that you are out of work: hence, no matter the purpose, try to get a job of some sort and then seek to build on that
(ii) I am convinced that the real bogeyman on the mathematics front is a result of poor teaching - a teacher who is not on top of the subject?

When I left school at 16 I had had a thorough grounding in basic maths from an excellent teacher but it mattered not because my interest lay in medicine. In the (then designated) senior day school I studied chemistry, physics, botany and zoology but towards the end of the second year I found that I was on the wrong path.

My sister was secretary to a senior engineer in the BBC and he had already offered me a job which, with my father's encouragement, I accepted. In those days the only active device was a triode valve about which I knew only that it was a sort of glass thing with sticky-out pins at one end and dismayingly the mathematics was inscrutable!

I began to devour Scroggie's priceless volume and enrolled with the Regent Street Polytechnic to study pure and applied maths first year on Monday and Wednesday evenings with second-year in a double session on Friday evenings. Unfortunately the gods were not on my side and the Royal Navy sent me call-up papers because they were in great need of radar mechanics. Following join up routines and the issue of uniforms I was jumped over all the red tape and sent straight to study electronics as a wireless mechanic. (Later, on the grounds that I had been issued with a tool-kit, I was sent to repair typewriters!??)

There is still more to this saga but I want to make a point that you cannot expect to map out your career by numbers - all manner of imponderables will combine to shape your future! Let it be said that from being demobbed I was lucky and acquired practical skills in everything including how to boil an egg with steam.

If you bear in mind that mathematics is really no more than logic (not the IT type) you can pursue that as an evening "entertainment" while earning your living - wherever .

I'm afraid that few get much in the way of a helping hand - you have to bulldoze your way in. Take whatever you can get an endeavour to build on that.

Ken Green
 08 December 2013 12:23 PM
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Zuiko

Posts: 521
Joined: 14 September 2010

Regarding unpaid work : this is your choice but I am dead against it in all circumstances. I consider it exploitation of both the unpaid worker and the paid worker that should be doing the work. Most respectable companies would not entertain the thought. I would also be suspicious of any company willing to take you on as an unpaid labour. Engineering can be dangerous, and sometimes deadly - imagine the fallout of unpaid and possibly uninsured worker making a lethal mistake.


Regarding short courses, I dont know what is on offer in your area. Take a look at the local technical college and see what they have to offer. Their career adviser will be able to help you.

good luck
 08 December 2013 12:26 PM
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Pcritchlow

Posts: 7
Joined: 06 December 2013

Hi Ken,

Thanks for your recent post and insight.

I am current employed as an IT Technician and have just completed a Level 3 Diploma in IT Uses which i took it upon myself to put myself through to further add to my qualifications as the opportunity was there. In an ideal scenario i would like to finish my NVQ Level 3 in electrical installation as i already have the Level 2 Certificate (2330) which i put myself through college for 2 years in the evenings to obtain and from there move into the electrical engineering field as i would already be established as a time served electrician. Unfortunately Electrical installation apprenticeships are just as hard to come by as Electrical Engineering and the NVQ course cannot be undertaken without being employed in the industry.

This is my future and im more than happy to take the rough road to obtain what i need and create the opportunity's for myself. Be that working unpaid, moving location to find an apprenticeship or paying for the courses that i require out of my own pocket. As of yet non of this has got me anywhere but i have been trying to obtain what i can while waiting for an opportunity door to open. Time is not on my side at the moment and at 24 years old the likely hood of getting work as an apprentice is becoming less and less likely over current school leavers.

There is alot of information that i am yet to know and understand in the way of qualifications needed and routes that can be taken to obtain what is needed to finally crack the industry but i am doing what i can to try and get help and direction so i can better have an understanding of where i am and where i need to be so i can take the appropriate action to get there.

Current Qualifications
Level 3 Diploma in IT Uses
City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate in ElectroTechnical Installations (Building & Structures) (2330)

Related Work Experience
2 Years IT Technician
3 Years Electrical Installation
 08 December 2013 01:27 PM
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Zuiko

Posts: 521
Joined: 14 September 2010

Originally posted by: Pcritchlow
Time is not on my side at the moment and at 24 years old the likely hood of getting work as an apprentice is becoming less and less likely over current school leavers.


You should not believe that for a second.

Many companies would prefer a more mature trainee because you are more likely to be settled, have a decent work ethic, and have some experience behind you!
 08 December 2013 01:44 PM
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Pcritchlow

Posts: 7
Joined: 06 December 2013

Originally posted by: Zuiko

Originally posted by: Pcritchlow

Time is not on my side at the moment and at 24 years old the likely hood of getting work as an apprentice is becoming less and less likely over current school leavers.




You should not believe that for a second.



Many companies would prefer a more mature trainee because you are more likely to be settled, have a decent work ethic, and have some experience behind you!


That is true but i believe that 24 is the age that the funding stops being available for apprenticeship schemes, meaning that company's would have to pay the full costs for the education.
 08 December 2013 07:50 PM
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MickeyB

Posts: 181
Joined: 18 January 2003

For what it's worth.....
I went through a similar dilemma to what you're going through now.... some 20 years earlier.... and a little younger @ 21.
I completed my apprenticeship by funding the study myself (last year) and working through a year of a 3 day week/ working for very little before that....

The conclusion I came to then.... and I'm glad I did.... I didn't want to stay in the electrician/ contractor game because it was dying in the 1990's..... and is pretty well dead now as far as supporting a reasonable lifestyle.... from what I see...... the money you can get now (£28~35k) on the books without overtime does not support the lifestyle that most skilled people deserve....back in the early 90's the wages (in Leicester) were ~£12k or £16k if you were mobile.... but you could live a reasonable lifestyle/ support a family because of house prices/ mortgages were not as big a burden as now .... generally the cost of living was easier to manage.

The bottom line, from my own personal perspective, is that you need a degree/ be chartered, using your ONC as the stepping stone for the degree, if you want to have an prospect of having a reasonable lifestyle in an engineering based subject these days.....

It shouldn't be that way I know..... but the value of being an electrician/ electrical has lost out in the fickle game of what industry values ....... technology has de-skilled the trade and will continue to until industry can take out the human element.....

You need to look at where you want to be in the 'value' food chain.......
 09 December 2013 09:29 PM
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Pcritchlow

Posts: 7
Joined: 06 December 2013

Hi Micky,

Thanks for your reply. Im thinking of the same route of funding the qualifications myself.

What qualifications did you study?
Did you start with a BTEC Level 3 then move onto the HNC?

The current state of the Electrician / Contractor game is terrible i think if i was qualified id struggle to earn 20k a year working as a fully qualified electrician. I think the electrical engineering route would defiantly be the best route to take or Multiskilled maintenance engineer (Electrically Bias).
 09 December 2013 10:08 PM
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MickeyB

Posts: 181
Joined: 18 January 2003

Craft level City and Guilds, ONC then BEng(hons) 4 year Sandwich with year out...... Graduated with 1st Class Honours. ...must have done something right........ the main thing I learnt, putting aside the music, the booze and the women, was to teach yourself how to keep learning and always be open to learn new things. .... too many people get stuck in their ways and miss out.... get grumpy and bitter..... things move on with or without you..... never stay doing the same thing for more than 3 years..... keep pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.... or get fat and lazy. .....
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