Skilled trade career advice

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Tech
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Skilled trade career advice

Post by Tech » Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:55 pm

Hi BHs,
I am looking to change my carrier from a Tech to a skilled trade, the end goal is run my own business in such trade.
My friend runs a successful HVAC company, I got to ride for a whole day with one of his journeyman to see what's like in HVAC business. There is a lot of back breaking work. Long hour too. I doubt I can do this long enough to learn the required skill.

Some might ask why I want to change. My work pay good, but I feel like I am trapped without carrier advancement. Also, I want to have my earning potential dictated by me.

I know there are a ton. Like plumber, carpenter, electrician, car mechanic, auto body repair, HVAC,...etc
Any of you in skilled trade work/business?
Can you share the good, bad and the ugly ?

Thanks,

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: Skilled trade carrier adive

Post by oldcomputerguy » Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:57 pm

s/carrier/career/
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

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Pajamas
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Re: Skilled trade carrier adive

Post by Pajamas » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:08 pm

No personal experience except direct observation but the people who install and rebuild and repair elevators and escalators are paid very well and the work seems interesting. There is some heavy physical labor involved but probably not to the degree, duration, and frequency required in some similar lines of work.

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-an ... n/home.htm

I think that owning and running a successful business in the skilled trades is probably much more demanding than being a journeyman bricklayer or HVAC installer and expert, it's perhaps just not as physically demanding. In many trades and professions, there is a long tradition of new entrants doing the grunt work.

Something else you might consider is installation and repair of overhead doors as well as doors and windows in general.

HongKonger
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Re: Skilled trade carrier adive

Post by HongKonger » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:18 pm

My father was a self employed plumber and gas fitter. The work is not always there so the income is unreliable. You can be busy and have to turn down jobs. You get callouts in the night. You can't always schedule holidays because you might miss a great job. Paperwork can be a headache. It takes time to build up a reputation and respect amongst the construction community. My mother hated it as she felt it was a hand to mouth existence which makes it hard to run a house with 3 kids.
In the end, he went cards in and things were smoother but he travelled a lot.

Tech
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Re: Skilled trade carrier adive

Post by Tech » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:09 pm

Thanks guys.

Looking for more feedback and suggestion if you have been in any of these trade. :sharebeer

renue74
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Re: Skilled trade carrier adive

Post by renue74 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:31 pm

Residential electrician. Differs by state, but in my state, I think you have to be a journeyman for a year or two before you can attempt to obtain a license.

I do a lot of rehab/remodel work on rental and flip property. Since the properties are not my primary residence, I can't do my own general contracting work on it....so any time I have to pull permits, I have to beg a GC friend to pull. I considered getting my GC, but same thing...you must work 1 year under a licensed GC.

Electrical
Of all the trades I use, electricians get paid the most and the work is not that heavy. I've pulled wire, installed switches and receptacles, and planned lighting/house electric before. Once you've done 10 houses, the building code is pretty understandable.

Plumbing
My plumbers are 2nd most highly paid. It's a safer profession, but does require some potentially bad stuff when you deal with sewer clean outs, crawling in crawls spaces to run PEX, etc.

Finish Carpenter
Other skilled labor that I find is tough to find in my area....Charlotte, NC.....is finish carpenters. Like finish guys who really know their trade. I can get hacks all day who say they are finish carpenters or I can pretend I can do my own finish work.

Tiling
Tile guys. Can be heavy to lift tile into a project. They are paid pretty well...but requires more accuracy. I laid floor tile and installed heated floors in 3 rooms and 2 showers in a recent rehab....it took me about 10 weekends of solo work....so maybe 15 working days. It's tough, dirty work. Mixing mortar, cutting tile in 25 degree temps on the porch. It's not fun, but my tile guys wanted $5,000 per bathroom to do it.

Siding
Very expensive in my area for siding guys. But, this is a low skill job. The owner makes the $. For a simple hardie plank job, it might cost $15K to $20K in labor cost for a company.

Hardwood Flooring
Flooring guys here get $2.50 per sq/ft to sand/poly a floor. Installation costs more....the professionals make good money...but it's back breaking work.

Drywall
In my area, drywall is a laborer job. Low skill level...but dependent on good experience. Drywall is an art...but low paying art.

Excavation
Tends to be a decent trade here. Hi cost to go into the market....if you are leasing/buying equipment. But you can go residential or commercial.

Roofing
low paying day laborer job in my area. I'm afraid of heights....never liked being on the roof.

Cabinet installer
here...cabinet install is different from finish carpenter. There are cabinet guys who are very detailed and charge a lot of $ to install cabinets.

-------------------------

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Sandtrap
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by Sandtrap » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:01 pm

Tech wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:55 pm
Hi BHs,
I am looking to change my carrier from a Tech to a skilled trade, the end goal is run my own business in such trade.
My friend runs a successful HVAC company, I got to ride for a whole day with one of his journeyman to see what's like in HVAC business. There is a lot of back breaking work. Long hour too. I doubt I can do this long enough to learn the required skill.

Some might ask why I want to change. My work pay good, but I feel like I am trapped without carrier advancement. Also, I want to have my earning potential dictated by me.

I know there are a ton. Like plumber, carpenter, electrician, car mechanic, auto body repair, HVAC,...etc
Any of you in skilled trade work/business?
Can you share the good, bad and the ugly ?

Thanks,
1. First, choose a trade you are passionate about. IE: Carpentry is the foundation skill for the building trades, but you have to like working with wood.
2. Choose a trade that can be pursued independently. Some trades, as subcontractors, are dependent on network to general contractors.
3. Choose a trade that has repeat business. For example: Someone will call a "home builder" once, a roofer every 7 years, but a plumber many times, an electrician not so much.
4. Some trades earn small money per project so you have to have many "calls" in a day/week/month to pay the bills. Other trades are oriented toward larger projects (transmission repair) but doing many in a day is not practical.
5. Some trades have more overhead than others (buy in). A mechanic needs a shop. A plumber or electrician just needs a van. Roofer needs a "cooker", etc, etc. Excav/grading needs equip$$$, etc.
6. Some trades are not solo, and more dependent on labor, others can be pursued just by yourself and are not as reliant on needing "help".
7. Some trades are seasonal (HVAC, Roofing, etc) vs others are year round in demand.
8. Some trades do well in the cities but not so well in rural areas, and vs vs.
9. Some trades require longer apprenticeships and certifications (structural welder) but those are also more exclusive (not everyone with a pickup truck and a dog can jump into it and call themselves a "journeyman").
10. Some trades earn more than others in general. IE: Electrician over landscaper. . . all things being equal.
11. Some trades are easier to open one's own business than others.
12. Some trades can be done even when older vs those that take a heavy physical toll on the body. IE: Electrician vs mason or steel.
13. Some trades are more "durable" than others. IE: Masonry walls do not change much vs "high tech" oriented trades may get outdated.
14.A. Some trades lend themselves to "wealth building" through self employment, business expansion, and network to cross industries. IE: Carpenter > Commercial General Contractor > Commercial Real Estate > etc. etc. Many trades do not do this as naturally though all things are possible.
14.B. If you want to make this "jump to light speed" in (14.A) you need to be educated and develop business, management, finance, and "leadership" skills, as well as "true grit" and "very thick skin", which might require 16 hour days forever. If you need to have "days off", "time off", "sick leave", "down time", then it is not for you.
15. What you have in mind can make for a thrilling ride, as long as you are willing to do whatever it takes, 24/7, to make it happen. If you do, and succeed, you will have the personal satisfaction of "boldly going where a very few percentage of folks dare to go".

If you are already a tech, then look at the cross trades that carry over to your skillsets. Some trades are more "cerebral" than others.

(career in many trades, per 14.A, . . . retired).
Good luck,
aloha
j

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FIREchief
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by FIREchief » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:45 pm

OP - you may wish to review the following for electrical apprenticeship programs in your area:

https://www.electricianschooledu.org/ib ... ticeships/

IBEW electricians will likely have jobs as long as we use electricity. 8-)
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

zimmer0
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by zimmer0 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:30 pm

Electrician or welding would be my top choices.

Wellfleet
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by Wellfleet » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:40 pm

Double post deleted
Last edited by Wellfleet on Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Wellfleet
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by Wellfleet » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:41 pm

The good is being outside on a beautiful day as an outdoor tradesperson. The bad is doing it when it’s freezing out or raining and you can’t work.

I’d probably look into something with some crossover characteristic like security system installation or even doing hvac with new hvac systems and integration versus digging ditches.

We had an issue with our ac and the hvac person was troubleshooting codes with the manufacturer, no longer just soldering pipes.

Tech
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by Tech » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:44 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:01 pm

1. First, choose a trade you are passionate about. IE: Carpentry is the foundation skill for the building trades, but you have to like working with wood.
I have not tried any serious work, I don't know what I am passionate about really. I am handy at home, fix most of the stuff by myself and I don't mind doing it.I cannot take any back breaking job because I love to pay sport in my old age.
2. Choose a trade that can be pursued independently. Some trades, as subcontractors, are dependent on network to general contractors.
Can you list them? Like I said my main goal to move into trade is to run my own business.
3. Choose a trade that has repeat business. For example: Someone will call a "home builder" once, a roofer every 7 years, but a plumber many times, an electrician not so much.
Also need help here which has a good repeat business.
4. Some trades earn small money per project so you have to have many "calls" in a day/week/month to pay the bills. Other trades are oriented toward larger projects (transmission repair) but doing many in a day is not practical.
Make sense.
5. Some trades have more overhead than others (buy in). A mechanic needs a shop. A plumber or electrician just needs a van. Roofer needs a "cooker", etc, etc. Excav/grading needs equip$$$, etc.
Understood.
6. Some trades are not solo, and more dependent on labor, others can be pursued just by yourself and are not as reliant on needing "help".
This can be figured out later.
7. Some trades are seasonal (HVAC, Roofing, etc) vs others are year round in demand.
Is electrician year round? I guess when the wires are installed, and it runs, nothing more unless something break down. Similar to Q3.
8. Some trades do well in the cities but not so well in rural areas, and vs vs.
I need help here too.
9. Some trades require longer apprenticeships and certifications (structural welder) but those are also more exclusive (not everyone with a pickup truck and a dog can jump into it and call themselves a "journeyman").
Got it.
10. Some trades earn more than others in general. IE: Electrician over landscaper. . . all things being equal.
True.
11. Some trades are easier to open one's own business than others.
True.
12. Some trades can be done even when older vs those that take a heavy physical toll on the body. IE: Electrician vs mason or steel.
I totally agree with that.
13. Some trades are more "durable" than others. IE: Masonry walls do not change much vs "high tech" oriented trades may get outdated.
True.
14.A. Some trades lend themselves to "wealth building" through self employment, business expansion, and network to cross industries. IE: Carpenter > Commercial General Contractor > Commercial Real Estate > etc. etc. Many trades do not do this as naturally though all things are possible.
Very know to know.
14.B. If you want to make this "jump to light speed" in (14.A) you need to be educated and develop business, management, finance, and "leadership" skills, as well as "true grit" and "very thick skin", which might require 16 hour days forever. If you need to have "days off", "time off", "sick leave", "down time", then it is not for you.
I don't meant to run a big business. A small business is fine here. I assume you are talking about a well run, big business. My friend HVAC biz has 8 employees, 5 trucks. He makes real good money. He works 6-8 hours 7 days week.
15. What you have in mind can make for a thrilling ride, as long as you are willing to do whatever it takes, 24/7, to make it happen. If you do, and succeed, you will have the personal satisfaction of "boldly going where a very few percentage of folks dare to go".
Right now I feel like I need to change. I make good money at my current job, If I take any trade work, I might be making 1/3 of what I am making now, however I am willing to sacrifice that as long as it's short term. Plan is to run my own business long term.

If you are already a tech, then look at the cross trades that carry over to your skillsets. Some trades are more "cerebral" than others.
I am in computer and Electronic. Any suggestion?

(career in many trades, per 14.A, . . . retired).
Good luck,
aloha
j
Sandtrap,
Some of those are hard questions, but they are very important to get answered.
I thought about it overnight, still I could not give a good answer. I'll try my best here.

Also I would like to thanks those posted here. Advice is welcome.

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FIREchief
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by FIREchief » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:51 pm

Tech wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:44 pm
Sandtrap wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:01 pm

17. Some trades are seasonal (HVAC, Roofing, etc) vs others are year round in demand.
Is electrician year round? I guess when the wires are installed, and it runs, nothing more unless something break down. Similar to Q3.
Sandtrap,
Some of those are hard questions, but they are very important to get answered.
I thought about it overnight, still I could not give a good answer. I'll try my best here.

Also I would like to thanks those posted here. Advice is welcome.
Not sure who the red text belongs to, but a journeyman electrician certainly has work year round. The job involves a lot more than just "installing wires." You may be thinking residential work, which is not typically the domain of union electricians.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:56 pm

Given your answers and existing skillset, inclination, and physicality.

Electrician or related fields.

1. You will be able to moderate your work hours according to the jobs you take or don't.

2. If you choose to do "service work" (commercial or residential) there will be consistent smaller money repeat business if you hook up with realtors, apartment owners, property management companies, multi unit housing, smaller care and nursing homes, etc. Focus on multi unit rentals, condo's, etc, where "referral" business is high, especially seniors and retirees. All you will need is a van and tools. You can do "service work" by yourself into your senior years if you want. Troubleshoot and repair. Hang ceiling fans for "senior Bogleheads". In general, you can be financially comfortable, if not do very well, in "service work".

3. Go to vocational school part time at night, etc, for electrical, then apprentice with a company, then get your license. (A Must).

4. Don't shortcut and be a "handyman". Journey to nowhere. Get licensed. Be legit.

5. If you go after larger money, then that's an Electrical Contractor for new builds. Hookup with General Contractors to be able to bid on projects. New work is more intensive, pulling heavy wire, transformers, heavy service panels, etc. Big bucks. Big work. You will be on "job sites" vs "residential/commercial service work". In general, if you are very ambitious and savvy, this is where the "big bucks" is.

6. Service work is repair or modification or adding to existing./ New work is new. (2 different things).

7. All the equipment you need can be put in a van.

aloha
j
Last edited by Sandtrap on Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KlangFool
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by KlangFool » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:01 pm

OP,

I come from a multigenerational business family. 50% of my immediate and extended family is in one form of business or another. I worked on my family business during my childhood. So, the following are my observations about running a small business.

The major difference between running a small business and working as an employee is as a small business person, you have to be good enough in all aspects of businesses:

A) Sales/Marketing

B) Customer management

C) Accounting - paying the vendor and collecting from your customer.

D) Managing your supplier and sub-contractor

E) Do the work.

You will fail if you are not good enough in all aspects of the business. Please note that it is beyond doing the work. Meanwhile, as an employee, you only have to do the work.

The only business that I am capable off is a one-person consulting business. And, I did some of those as my side business.

KlangFool

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Sandtrap
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:06 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:01 pm
OP,

I come from a multigenerational business family. 50% of my immediate and extended family is in one form of business or another. I worked on my family business during my childhood. So, the following are my observations about running a small business.

The major difference between running a small business and working as an employee is as a small business person, you have to be good enough in all aspects of businesses:

A) Sales/Marketing

B) Customer management

C) Accounting - paying the vendor and collecting from your customer.

D) Managing your supplier and sub-contractor

E) Do the work.

You will fail if you are not good enough in all aspects of the business. Please note that it is beyond doing the work. Meanwhile, as an employee, you only have to do the work.

The only business that I am capable off is a one-person consulting business. And, I did some of those as my side business.

KlangFool
+1
Well said.
To some degree, an employee does not have to think about work on days off or after "clocking out". The paycheck will arrive regardless.
One can quit at any time. Find another job.
To a large degree, a successful businessman never stops thinking about his company, even if at times, unconsiously.
One can't walk away from it. It's where the buck stops.
j

theshovel
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by theshovel » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:32 pm

Tech wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:55 pm
I doubt I can do this long enough to learn the required skill.


Then seriously, seriously reconsider. Everyone I know in the trades with their own shop has the skill and confidence to call the shots right there, on the spot. A lot of the trades aren't really "collaborative." If I ask my Foreman how, and/or when he tells me how, is how it is. Period. You need possess and project confidence in the field. Guys will see you as weak and not respect you(i.e. work hard) if you don't. .02

Good luck.

Scrapr
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by Scrapr » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:28 pm

If i was starting over in the trades i would look at the HVAC. Do new construction and pivot into the service side. Use the nsw construction as a lead source (sticker on the unit) more money on the replacement and upgrades. Heating repairs in the winter AC in the summer. Get 100 customers on a service plan. $250k per year recurring revenue

Frankly in our area you ki da have to know someone to get your electrical ticket punched.

But if you thought the hvac was back breaking you may want to reconsider the trades. It's fairly easy work. Roofer sider plumber laborer and ditch digger are way worse.

It's easy to get into the construction business. It's hard to be successful in it

TLB
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Re: Skilled trade career advice

Post by TLB » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:47 pm

I’m a Plumbing and HVAC contractor in new construction, both single family homes and commercial (hotels, Apartments re-hab) in California and Nevada. I started out as a plumber’s apprentice, Journeyman, foreman, Superintendent. I was a fast learner and was in the office in five years doing purchasing, estimating and design layout for multi projects. After 10 years I was brought in as part owner of the company.

I left this company about 19 years ago and went out on my own. There was a lot that I had learned and I’m still learning.

I’ve seen people start their own construction companies from Salesman, Estimators, Purchasing agents, and skip the field knowledge, you just have to surround yourself with people that know the trade and you can trust.

Today I have three divisions, have over 900 employees with sales over 155 million and yes I still love my job.

Sandtrap, Klangfool and others have given you some great pointers and good advice. In my opinion learn the trade inside and out. Learn from others, ask a lot of questions on everything. Have good people around you like CPA, Lawyers, and Insurance brokers. Don’t cut corners, do the job right and back up your word.

I could go on and on, good luck.

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