I have been an electrician for over ten years.I do mostly construction. I have wanted to get into the maintenace electrician field but am not sure of the best way to do it. I have taken Motor control and PLC classes along with some Hydraulics and pnuematics. I dont have the years of actual experience working with these skills but I thought my training would be enough to get me in the door.
Andy, Good on ya. Education is the best way to "be all you can be". Keep going, NEVER stop.
The plain fact is....most maintenance electricians are not...er, the most highly trained group.
Go to any gummint website and see the requirements for the maintenance jobs. Some are different, and the guy who is well trained, and wants to keep up with his field is a gem who will/can go far, good luck.
One of the items I would look for is ANY cross training, or understanding of another discipline. Go get an HVAC gas cert, take a boiler class of any kind, etc., should put you over the top brother.
Want to do a bit of Fire Alarm type, NICET is a wonderful place to start, you get the idea, but for an entry level position, you've already got all the bona fides you require.
The thing is....DON'T let them change your attitude towards education once you've landed that "sweet" job. And do remember the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, no matter where you place the fence.
Re: Maintenance Electricians#52473 05/27/0510:22 AM05/27/0510:22 AM
Andy sounds like your working your way into the I&E (Instrumentation/Electrical) field. First of all the fact that your looking to better yourself speaks volumes. Stick with it. As for the comment George made about maintenance folks not being the most highly trained group. The message to me is that he is streotyping. My back round is an I&E tech that has provided well for my family. I&E crafts deal with a multitude of electrical and control equipment on a daliy basis such as motors ranging from 12vdc to 2400 vac., 480 volt starters, single and three phase circuitry. Control transmitters including temperture, pressure, level, density, flow, and also lab type analyzers. They may work on control valves which could be as large as 48" or greater. Valve accuators, valve positioners, signal conditioners, etc. Variable speed drive motor controllers. High voltage (13.8kv) switch gear. All safety alarm and emergency shutdown systems. And some of us hold state certifications and businesses away from our primary 8 to 5 jobs. Some do service repairs, new residential construction, and even HVAC on there off time. Seems to me that one would need some knowledge and skills training in their respective field. As I see it your on the right track if your planning to enter the I&E trade. They are very well versed in several avenues stemming from the electrical craft. But I don't know if I would agree about the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence. I've worked in some pretty terriable conditions. The fact is that you know what you have, you don't know what you'll get. But don't let that keep you from reaching for your goals. Just use your skill that you have learned as any other tool in your pouch. Keep them sharp and always up to date. Andy, just remember that once you have learned something, it's yours to keep. Nobody will be able to take it away from you. You may become a little rusty, but with just a little review you'll be rigth back as if it were something you've just learned 2 day earlier. I've enjoyed the field for better then 20 years, and I don't see it slowng up anytime soon. Good luck, Bert
I clawed ,earned my way out of "maintenance" into a licensed master electrician and have went back to maintenace as a primery job ,still own and operate Buzz Electric. Here gos , not tring to piss anyone off but i won't hire an "Electrician" for maintenance, they don't useally have the general machine controls knowledge, troubleshooting skills and even basic problem solveing skills that i believe a maintenace man should have. I am not knocking the trade at all,cuz i also won't hire you if you don't have an electrical back ground.And besides a good electrician will also understand hydrualics easly, you can't have to much education,they also can't take it from you.
Re: Maintenance Electricians#52475 06/02/0512:45 AM06/02/0512:45 AM
I agree with Bert I started as an apprentice at a manufacturing plant lots of trouble shooting and not just electrical; hydraulic, thermal, pressure interlocks as well as motor controls. Went to industrial construction/line work, sub stations, first gen mov programmable controls etc. 25 yrs later get steady work good pay doing troubleshooting/service work. Looking up at what I can see on the shelf above my computer I have 25 book ranging from electronics,machinist, hydro, hydraulic and instrumentation, pneumatics structural engineering, plumbing and carpentry. and of coarse several code books and motor and EE books. If you would not hire me I don't want to work for you anyway. Rod
I agree with buzzelectric. I started as a maint. elect. 30 yrs. ago. Now am a master/contractor. In between I managed large maintenance trade groups in manufacturing. A good maint. elect. is worth their weight in gold. They need to understand how every piece of manufacturing and facility equipment operates. They need to be able to effectively communicate both written and verbal to all levels of management and ownership. Many times they are called on to assist other trades in troubleshooting because of their broad scope of understanding of the operation. I hired electrical contractors for my pipe and wire. A good maint. guy starts with a license and then it can take years to develop the knack of maintenance repairs and troubleshooting.
Been an elec. for 30 yrs, mostly in the construction end. Recently our company took over a large maintenance contract for a concrete/asphalt batch plant and rock crusher company. In the past I have built some lumber/planer mills and the like so am familiar with the workings, but only occasionally have been called on to troubleshoot. I wish I had just taken a controls course, I have spent some time this week troubleshooting a control problem involving a starter which periodically drops out, taking with it several motors which are interlocked thru the aux contacts (this one is the first in the sequence). I have learned more in 3 days of on and off troubleshooting than I would in a week of school (but would love to do some schooling now) and all with the pressure of semi trailer trucks lined up 10 deep waiting for asphalt.
I see your point of construction guys not always being good troubleshooters, and recommend schooling highly. This actually is what prompted me to find this site and run some stuff by other electricians.
I am hoping I solved the problem today by running a new cable up to the starter banks(high up on the plant) and replacing the source of holding voltage for the coil. This followed the easier and cheaper steps of replacing the stop button(normally closed contacts have been the source of frequent lack of control voltage problems in this dust laden environment),the coil of the starter, the auxilary contacts on the starter, all things which I could picture causing the starter to drop out. A funky time delay-off relay which also has instantaneous contact threw a curve in, too.
Smoke was rolling out my ears at times, I was wracking my brain so hard.
What else, in any of you guys' and gals' experience might I look for if I get a call tomorrow as they roll out another 2000 TONS of asphalt. It ran for a couple hrs trouble free today after the wire replacement but has gone longer than that between problems before, so this proves nothing. By the way, this is a 1970 built plant and has lots of brittle SO cord wires(not just the jacket---the individual wires) and lots of splices from past mishaps and lots of pin/sleeve connectors which look real bad---thus my conclusion that the holding voltage could be intermittently lost.
I was a construction electricoan for 20 years then I took a plant maintenance electician job. For the most part the work is very boreing with little satisfaction. Now they like to remind us that contractors can do the same work $30.00 cheaper because of our sold service rate. If I am there months from now it will be a merical. It looks like we will be replaced by union electricians becauuse I am not a realitive that is not good for me.
Re: Maintenance Electricians#52479 06/05/0510:24 AM06/05/0510:24 AM
Plant ran for 12 hrs Sat. without losing this starter, so the problem may be solved...a relief because one of the owners wanted me to start replacing starters even though I told him the problem seemed to be in the control ckt. That would be like putting a new engine in your car and finding out the fuel pump was the problem...can't let customers push you in these situations, it will still be YOUR fault when that doesn't solve the problem because "You should have known better than to listen to me"
I've worked "both sides," and there's a lot to be said for both sides of the issue.
Maintenance Electricians typically learn the job "on the job," know only their plant's equipment, get in the habit of fixing the same thing all the time (to the detriment of trouble-shooting skills), and leave the job with no credentials, or systematic training in other systems or equipment.
"Regular" electricians typically serve an apprenticeship that systematically teaches them a little about all aspects of the trade, may rotate them around different contractors 9so they have some first-hand experience with different systems), and has a strong emphasis on the NEC. Of course, many work for companies that have a limited variety in the job they go after- so a guy might spend years wiring houses. Or others work for a big firm, and get locked into a specialty (say, alarm systems). No matter what, though, the journeyman electrician at least has some credential that outlines his training. He leaves a job with that- and not just his hat- in his hand. If he's a union man, he has also been able to maintain his benefits through various employers- something a factory worker cannot.
The sad fact is that most employers these days are short-sighted cheap bums who can't imagine spending five minutes training anyone- why, they might leave! This mindset not only creates a poor attitude, it also means that the employers' own people are caught totally unprepared when something "new" presents itself. I was a contractor at on lace that was all full of pride with its' "secret" and "state-of-the-art" technology- stuff that was old in 1970! (And they worried I was going to steal their "secrets!")
Generally, "maintenance electricians" do a lot of motor and switch changing. Unless something unusual happens, or a major job (like moving a line) is involved, having a journeyman in the job is a lot like having a derby winner pull a milk wagon.
A journeyman is a professional, and is paid for his judgement as much as anything. Too often maintenance folks are way bown the ladder, well beneath the production foremen. This is a mistake, and a waste of a resource. The man is far more than just s motor-changer, and production folks need to realise that their actions are of the the cause of downtime- not the sparky waiting for a part (that they were too cheap to keep on-hand). Yet, I have never seen the maintenance folks asked for their thoughts- it's always "here's how it is." A contractor won't put up with that.