I can not follow some of your responses to questions. Heck, i'm assuming someone csn tell me how the heck are you guys so well rounded. I know experience plays a role, but can I take a shot at this: Can i say that most of you are students of the trade--meaning, you where involved in an Apprentice program (union). I'm not in a Union, so I feel I may be getting the short end of the stick.
Foca Se, I would say that the posters you see here are simply into what they do, and find this a convienient way to expand their horizons.
To be honest, i read more than posted & many times have flipped back and forth thru the NEC completely befuddeled, such exersice is good, however frustrating.
It is not neseccarily the union or non-union sparky that is superior, although both sides could pose a good aurgument. It is the sparky that eats, sleeps, walks & talks his trade that is. As one of my instructors simply phased it, " A good sparky keeps his nose in the book!" so how many times do you see that happen at work, or at lunch, or after work???
I have worked in an open-shop (non-union) environment for 17 years. Don't believe that only union employees are well-trained. There are good private trade schools out there and there are non-union, state-approved, apprenticeship programs, as well. This consists of 4 years(576 hrs.)of school, along with 4 years (8,000 hrs.)of field experience. Your employer must enter into an agreement with the state. If yours won't, find someone who will. You can contact your states Bureau of Appenticeship & Training, or the Federal Gov't. (do a web search). I believe that schooling (theory) goes a long way towards being a well-rounded tradesman. While unions require enrollment in these programs, this does not guarantee a top mechanic. You are as good as you want to be. BTW, My guess is that most of us are not in a union.
Any code knowledge I have comes from 30 yrs. of reading the NEC on the toilet in the morning. (Now, there's an argument for doing like Sparky said and "keeping your nose in the book"!) and the school of hard knocks. I never completed high school, took a GED last yr (@48 yrs old). I really took the hard road. College was marine biology and oceanography, hardly applicable. I find that these forums are a real good way of learning. (& see when the next time Joe Tedesco comes around your area) I've never been a union member, when I was young they wouldn't have me. Now it's the other way around.
Just apply yourself, if you're self-motivated and take the trade and its rules seriously, the understanding will come. You'll only get out as much as you put in.
[This message has been edited by electure (edited 08-28-2001).]
Foca Se As I responded on another post, the best way to learn the NEC is to use the techniques suggested by some of the best teachers, such as Tom Henry, Mike Holtz, Mr. Stallcup (don't remember his first name), Joe Tedesco and others. Also, go to electrician.com for other ways of learning the code. Get some books from these teachers and practice learning the code by doing the problems. Practice until you know the book from cover to cover, then practice some more so you will be able to pass the exam given in your state. Read the questions posted on this great board and look up the answers in your code book. It doesn't matter how many times you read the code book and think you know it, there is always something new to learn because it changes every three years. The kew words in anything is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, AND MORE PRACTICE. Thats how you become better at your work (and play). Union or non-union has nothing to do with whether you want to learn it or not. It is up to you. In my area, we have technical schools that teach the code, so you might check those in your area. Good luck on your learning experience.
One of the quickest ways to learn is to ask questions. Aside from in person Training there's also a lot you could do around here. Try the Code Quiz we have each month and look up the answers in the NEC (it tells you where to find them) and, We've got some great books in the Bookstore here, check the link on the side of this page.
I served an apprenticeship (union). One of the posts above pointed out that there are some non-union state approved programs & I've run into some of the guys that have been through them &you really can't tell us apart.
A lot of it comes down to desire though. I know too many guys (union & non) that quit reading & studying as soon as they have their license. This is OK if all you're going to do is bend pipe & jerk wire. But it really kills me to hear "When did they change that?"
I read 4 1/2 trade magazines a month and I usually buy a book or two a year. And spend time on the electrical bulletin boards.
So, keep reading, keep asking questions & see if you can't get into an apprenticeship or trade school. This stuff can be really tough to pick up on your own.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
In reading my post above, with regard to training, I realized that it might sound anti-union. This was not my intention. I meant to emphasize the fact that there are a number of ways to become a top-notch tradesman. Union training programs are usually very good. However, you, personally will largely determine the level of competency to which you might rise.
To quote Redsy, "However, you, personally will largely determine the level of competency to which you might rise".
I never stayed still long enough to utilize an apprenticeship program. In my early career I travelled around SC, NC, and Virginia. I was raised in a tobacco and textile town in SC so I was definitely raised anti-union. I later organized into a local, but dropped out when I became an instructor. The open shop companies I worked for in the southeast did not want to invest money in training employees that they intended to lay off at the end of each project. I wasn't political enough to get in any cliques and become a company man. I worked if, when and usually where I wanted to. But where ever I was working, I usually had my nose in a book (electrical, political, business, history, anything). I worked different times for the same people and companies without burning too many bridges. After working for one guy the second time for 9 months he told me he couldn't believe I stayed so long. I was reliable and a good worker when I was there but very independent. My job hopping did not help build up any retirement fund, but it gave me a broad background in all aspects of the trade and a lot of different industrial processes and power generation. That may not be the path most people take or want to take, but I've been through every state but Alaska and worked jobs in 22 of them and Canada, Mexico, and China. I've also been to the Philipines, Japan , and Holland on someone else's money. Trying to finegle a trip to Spain next. I am working as an engineer for an internetworking company and the job may end in the next week or month. Everyone around me is scared and upset with the company. If I am cut it will just be an opportunity to find something else new and exciting. May take 4 or 5 months off and concentrate on my old cars and other assorted junk (toys). Oh, with my lifestyle, if you can't go without working for several months, with or without unemployment you are living above your means.