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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello new to posting, but been reading for 1yr now. My question is if I am underpaid I am an employee for a contractor and have pretty much been his apprentice for 2.5 years. Here is what he has taught me I can do these without his further instruction (he can tell me what needs to be done and i do it)...framing with the exception of roofs, drywall, taping, base and shoe, crown, chair rail, railings, deck construction start to finish, tile work, doors and windows, casings, cabinet installation, hardwood, vinyl and pergo type floors, i cant figure and cut stairs on my own yet, skylights and solar tubes, siding, fencing, pergolas....what im trying to say is that i know there is more to learn but am i being paid fair....in the 2.5 years we went from a 4 man crew to just the boss and I, i do 80% of the physical work and i make $14.00 an hour..thx for your help..........this is just to see if im in the ballpark..
 

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Sounds to me like you work for the kinda guy I started out with as a rookie, one of those anything-and-everything guys. I got paid about half what you make doing all that for him back in the early 90's, only big difference is that I did roughly 100% of all the work...LOL

I would see my boss once a week or so when he showed up to tell me what needed to be done and then pull a Chevy Chase from Caddyshack, "I'd like to stay but...I have a thing..." and leave. If I needed materials I called the lumber yard and put it on his account and had it sent out, if I needed equipment Id do the same and charge it to him....and show up at his place every 2 weeks to have him cut me a check.

My favorites were his, "This roof is a tear-off, they want overhangs built on the gables, this-that-and-the-other-thing....I will see when I get back from Cancun next week" LOL I know for fact I was being taken advantage of but at the time I wasnt in it for the money so much as just loving the job.

Personally, without knowing the tangibles about you, a.k.a. attendance, attitude, quality, dependability, etc about you, I would say that you are worth more than what you are getting, yes. Especially in Illinois. I think, on average, the Chicagoland wages are about 10%-15% higher than their Wisconsin counterparts and a good, well trained guy with experience like that is worth more than that up here.
 

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I'm in st. Louis, and i don't think the wages are much different here than Chicago.
IMHO, because you lack certain knowledge/skills/experience to be truly defined as a 'journeyman', your pay is justified. But you also didn't mention if any benefits were being provided too, which would more than make up for the wage.

You sound like a dependable and hard worker. I suggest if you want better pay/perks, join the union.
 

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If you feel you're worth more, - - shop yourself around, - - but the only 'real' way to adjust the 'green-ness of the grass and the volume of the gas' is to go solo, - - otherwise, live with it. :cool:
 

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ProWallGuy said:
I'm in st. Louis, and i don't think the wages are much different here than Chicago.
IMHO, because you lack certain knowledge/skills/experience to be truly defined as a 'journeyman', your pay is justified. But you also didn't mention if any benefits were being provided too, which would more than make up for the wage.

You sound like a dependable and hard worker. I suggest if you want better pay/perks, join the union.
I have to agree with ProWall, You didnt mention wheather you were receiving bennies, if you are, you could be in the 20-25.00 range already just with minor benefits.
 

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Kaspar,
I do hiring and salary settting full time in Elgin and I need more info. Are you on a W-2 or a 1099? What are your benies? If you are on a W-2 and are receiving benefits, for your market you might be underpaid by like a buck or two an hour - HOWEVER, are you gettting year round full time work? In Chicago, that's worth taking a buck or two less an hour. If you have that, you honestly may have a hard time finding better - as an employee. If you do have weeks where your sitting at home, I'd be looking - or just shoot me an e-mail. I won't try to steal you from your current company, but with the outfit I'm with - we can give you "fill in" work if you're sitting.

Tim
 

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Before you start worrying too much about being underpaid, sit down and try to envision what you'd like to be doing / how much you'd like to be making 5 years from now. Then work backwards, year by year, and consider what you need to be doing in each of those years in order to hit that five year mark. Finally, ask yourself "what role does my current job play in getting me to the five year mark".

The upside to working with your current boss is that he can personally teach you trade skills - one on one. The downside is there's practically no means for promotion. No matter how hard you work I wouldn't expect that you'd more than double your pay within the next 10 years while working for a one man show. And when he decides he's had it, you're done.

Larger GC's and homebuilders can provide opportunity for advancement within 'the system' (pay raises and promotions) that a smalll company can't. You will also be exposed to processes and procedures that most small companies just don't have. This kind of knowledge can help you start your own business should you decide that's something that interests you. Be aware though that larger companies are typically not capable of "caring" as much about "your needs" as a small businessman can. And running your own business doesn't automatically = more money than working for someone else.
 

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PipeGuy said:
And running your own business doesn't automatically = more money than working for someone else.
An excellent point, Pipe, - - though it does get one's 'hand' on the controls, - - it does not 'ensure' success. It's an option, - - not a given.
 

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Working for that type of guy is nice because you have gotten your feet wet in many different facets of the trade, i.e. framing, finish, etc. Think of what part or parts of it you enjoy the most and perhaps shop around for an employer that more or less specializes in that area.

Being in Chicagoland especially, to hear my wife talk about it, the unions are all over everything anyhow, you might consider the union route and get into a more structured pay/beneifit system in which you can advance. I have an uncle up here that is a framer with a union crew and says he is far better off than when he was working in the private sector and the union jobs around here anyhow seem to be larger projects so the work is quite consistent.

If you want to get your feet wet out on your own, be prepared for alot of grief and eating alot of Ramen Noodles in the beginning...LOL Like Pipe said, being in business for yourself doesnt instantly = more money....but it will guarantee more headaches :)

I've only been out on my own now for about 2 years and had to learn alot of things the hard way, not about the work itself, but the behind-the-scenes stuff. Estimating is an art form I still havent mastered, my nice guy tendencies tend to hurt me there. Talking to other subs I know recently, I've found out I was lowballing myself pretty hard by comparison to what some other guys get to do the same work. The whole insurance, work comp, accounting, and paperwork end of things can take a while to get used to dealing with. There are alot of things as a grunt that you didnt have to be concerned with but now its all in your lap and that can be a little frustrating and scary at first.

Save a few bucks and get an insurance policy and whatever your state requires and shop for some sidework to fill your weekends and downtime to test the waters on your own perhaps and see if its really what you would care to do right now. That way you can keep your bread and butter job and "practice" for having your own business someday.

Definately listen to the advice from the "grizzled old veterans" on the boards here, they are an invaluable source of learning. Ive been reading everything here since I discovered this forum and have learned SO much that has really helped me out from these guys.
 

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I live in the northern burbs of Chicago. I would say $14 isn't bad but isn't great. Sounds to me like you are more than an apprentice to me.

I started (1998) for a guy who promised to pay $8 an hour but would try to negotiate with me come pay day. "I bid this one too low." I didn't care, the agreement was by the hour. He was a scum bag and I quit him as soon as I got wise. I was making about $10 when I quit. I worked with him for about two years.

The unions in Chicago don't mess with small construction. They go for large commercial and government jobs, but the government jobs are almost always prevailing wage meaning anyone can doing 'em.

I just recently (last year) went out on my own and started my company. On one hand I say I should have done this sooner. On the other hand I say I wish I stayed an employee longer and learned more... but if I kept wanting to learn more an an employee I'd never had made the jump to business owner/manager. I will probably learn something new every day until the day I die.

Keep in mind when it comes to running your own business there is alot more to it than just the production side of the business. There is estimating, budgeting, accounting, paper work, employee issues, insurance, sub contractors, paper work, paper work.
 

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Oh yeah, tons of paperwork. 2 weeks ago I spent the entire evening of my second wedding anniversary preparing my invoices for the July 12th invoice period the next day instead of spending it with my wife...LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
to answer some threads no bennies at all, w-2, i am on time,and am a hardworker and have really been focusing on the finished trim side of the job.great to see a good trim job at the end of a project....i want to stay with my current boss for a few more years even if the pay isnt dead on, im pretty positive i will learnn more from him than if i went somewhere else right now..he was a union carpenter from 18-36 and then started generaling and his father already built houses in the area so he had a good name base...he tells me that in ten years when he retires i would be able to take the business and keep the name...no problem with me he's booked all year round...

the whole union thing my grandfather is one of the founders of the 597 pipefitters and he cant even get me in due to there recent financial issues, i took a placement test for them and scored 99 out of 600. thats where i would rather be right now but owhell.....the carpenters union well i have three former hockey teammates who are in the union for 2 yrs now and from what it seems they dont know too much..like they've been spending their time carrying plywood day in and day out..kinda torn between union/non..
 

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kaspar said:
...who are in the union for 2 yrs now and from what it seems they dont know too much..like they've been spending their time carrying plywood day in and day out..kinda torn between union/non..
Sooooo.... who's smarter than who there? :)

For their wages and bennies, which are no doubt more than yours, you'd carry plywood around all day too. Wouldn't you? If the answer is not, then you need to park your butt exactly where you're at and learn everything you can for a little spell. Do a side job every once in a whlie to hone business skills too. Ask your current employer lots of business questions, regardless of how "nosy" you think they might seem to him. He'll either answer them or he won't.

As long as your current employer is not a hack (and you've given no indication that he is), then you can learn much of what you need to learn from him. When you think you've "tapped him out", try your hand at another for a little while and them make the leap. Worked for me.

Just my thoughts...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Sooooo.... who's smarter than who there?

sure they may make more money barely more...but the way i see it is that as an apprentice they arent being taught sh!t....im not ragging on them im just saying if i was them i wouldnt really want to carry plywood day in day out but maybe learn how to cut it or even use the nail gun.. :cheesygri ...i think im going to talk to my boss in a month and ask about 17-18 dollars an hour...i have done some sidejobs though not too big

thnx for all your help
 

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For starters, how long have you been in this business 2.5 years?

2.5 years and have you had any raises and or bonuses over that time frame?

Stop and think here before you treat this man as if he has betrayed you, and is using you at this point.

My new help would start at 10.00 and hr, so if thats the case 14.5 is on line for 2.5 years that with bennies.

Before you go and try to shove something at him of 17- 18 and hour think of what he may do, as I sure know what I would say.

BTW, I have had the same enployees for over 20 years, you cant keep these guys on nuts and berrys

Sorry my thougths

BJD
 

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kaspar said:
he tells me that in ten years when he retires i would be able to take the business and keep the name...no problem with me he's booked all year round...
:eek: :eek: :eek:

And for this, you're not willing to take a little less pay than you think you should get?

:eek: :eek: :eek:
 
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