Hi, My name is Jeremy, but I go by mostwanted in the forums in which I belong. I am a CATV installation contractor in the Kansas City area. I am thinking of going to trade school to learn more about this field. I know that it would be just a start. I trained for about a month when I first started as a cable installer, but still didn't know anything about it. I learned most of what I know out in the field. Anyway, I want some opinions on going to trades school to start. The school claims to place 85-90% in a job. I have heard the other way to get started would be to go thru the local union. I have heard that they don't pay very well to start and the work isn't very steady. I cannot afford to go this route, as I still have a family to support. I apprieciate any information relating to trades schools.
It's going to be tough no matter what way you go. I would go to the trade school but no matter which route you take when you do get a job you will not be making lots of money. A 1st year helper gets paid 10per hr in my area, not much for a family
As an employer, I give little or no credit to an applicant that lists a trade school on their application, especially if they have very little or no hands on experience. What I look for is on the job training. I'm also non union, so being a union member won't get you a job with my company either.
If you decide to go the trade school route make sure you get what you're paying for and don't pay too much. There is a trade school in our area that charges $8000 for 1 day a week for 28 weeks, in other words they charge $285 per day. That's too much for what they teach. I interveiwed one of their graduates and found that he could bend conduit and look up items in the code book and read blueprints, but he had no idea of the practical application of these things. Ask to talk to current and past students and see if they would go the same route again.
Electric Eagle, I guess it just depends on what trade school. I leaned alot from Minute Man Voc Tech. I learned everything from bending pipe, which some schools don't offer, to wire pulling to wiring houses start to finish. I did general work in the school, as in a class room or another shop needed work done we would do it. Anything from a broken plug to adding recepts, new lighting, wiremold. I value what I leaned there and although some were there to just glide through high school, I got great training from there.
As I've said before, don't overlook your community college. There may also be a local chapter of ABC, a non-union contractor's org., that has its' own apprenticeship programs. Your state/ local federal DOL will have info on all accredited apprenticeship programs.
Much as I appreciate the value of "hands-on" experience, it is important that you take part in a program that systematically exposes you to all parts of the job. If your employer happens to do one type of work, you'll never experience the other types. Also, when you leave a job, you leave with nothing but your hat in your hand- schooling at least gives you something of a credential to start with.
I went down to the school today. I was very impressed with the facilities and the electrical instructor. They had a several work stations,a miniture framed house in the back, and a PLC workshop. I think the coarse costs $18k, but with my crappy income I will qualify for grants. The class runs 21 months 4 days a week with the last eight months being PLC training. Does this sound okay? There doesn't seem to be much else to offer around here.