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Discussion Starter #1
This question is purely academic, but I'm curious what everyone thinks. My state requires 6000-8000 hours of experience and a test to become a licensed plumber/electrician (interestingly, no requirements for GCs). Do you think this is reasonable and necessary to get competent tradesmen? To me, the experience requirement seems excessive. It's difficult for me to believe it takes 4 years of work and study to learn to wire/plumb a house. I wired my own house and while I was slow as crap and had to make a few calls, passed inspection. I don't mean to offend anyone here--I'm sure most have met similar requirements and I certainly don't intend trivialize that effort. I'm interested in your take--does this requirement seem about right?
 

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I believe in apprenticeships and trade schools. The idea is to expose someone to many different scenarios and train them to be able to respond to any and all difficulties.
As to your comment on GC's; A GC is like the conductor in front of an orchestra. He doesn't know how to play all of the instruments, he knows who plays and when.
 

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trekr said:
My state requires 6000-8000 hours of experience and a test to become a licensed plumber/electrician Do you think this is reasonable and necessary to get competent tradesmen? I'm interested in your take--does this requirement seem about right?
Trekr - make no mistake about it. These requirements came about as a result of business interests (protectionism) not consumer interests (quality control). The time frames are very likely arbitrary - picked out of the air by a legislator at the suggestion of a business owner or an organized group of business owners.
I think that achieving competency within a certain time frame will have more to do with the mentor / trainer than it will the protege / candidate. An average guy can acquire exceptional skills pretty quickly with a good teacher.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Pipe, I think more along your lines.. I see 4yrs as more a matter of "barrier to entry" than competency. It gives contractors a good pool of candidates at a much lesser pay scale...

Teetor, I certainly think there needs to be some way to gauge competence, but this just seems onerous. I suppose the risk of running into an incompetent/uninsured/unstable GC is more financial in nature. Just seems strange to have such a high bar for some trades and then allow anyone in the world to hold themselves out as a GC. What's also funny is all the ads I see in the papers around here where people claim to be "licensed general contractors". No mention of insurance mind you, but they do hold a license that does not exist.
 

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trekr said:
To me, the experience requirement seems excessive. It's difficult for me to believe it takes 4 years of work and study to learn to wire/plumb a house.
This is a common uneducated misconception. OK, so you can wire a house. Can you do motor controls? Can you install a backup generator system to code? Can you install a 3 phase 480 volt service without spending countless hours on a web site asking how to do it?

Wiring houses is just part of it. Knowing that does NOT make you an electrician. Knowing MUCH of the code by heart and knowing how to properly apply it does.

NO, the 4-5 years required to even take a master's test IS NOT excessive. It is necessary to weed out the wannabees who know just the basic minimum or just one small aspect of the trade.
True, some "masters" are hacks. They can be incompetent. This goes to prove that sometimes even 5 years is not enough for some people.
 

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A test is only difficult to those that don't have the answers.
I can't say that I'm pleased by someone who has skirted the system and is poised to give the construction industry another black eye.
The point of this site is to share information, enhance everyones abilities and contribute to better building practices. I believe that most on this site would like to see the industries credibility rise well over that of lawyers and used car salesmen.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I certainly agree that we need to do everything we can to elevate the credibility of the industry. I just don't know if I buy into the idea that "5" years experience is the answer. Why not have a board assess someone's competence? When someone has the skills, why not allow them to work and/or own the business?

Speedy, I'm not saying I can wire a house-- therefore I'm an electrician. And again, my comments are not at all meant to diminish the knowledge or skills necessary to do this work. I guess my point is that alot can be learned in 4 or 5 years-- I could become a doctor in about the same time it would take to get my electrical contracting license.

Speaking hypothetically, if after 2 years of experience I could pass the tests and prove to you via practical observations or work verification that I knew what I was doing-- why not license me? I think the focus should be on truly measuring competence rather than setting "5" years as the screen. Especially since it was even stated that you can be a hack in 5 years too..
 

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Let me start by saying I am a contractor that does most of my own work. if I don't feel confident that I can do a job right I will sub it to a professional in that field. The word "Master" should have some meaning. I don't think someone can become a Master at anything in a couple of years. Granted saying I have 5 years experience in this field does not make me a master at it but it is a start. Testing to follow should prove I know all there is to know in a field makes me a master. I know some of this is from "the good ol boys" but the idea is sound. Why lessen the art of any Master. Keep it as it should be. An artist or performer of great and exemplary skill is a master.
Just one mans opinion.
 

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trekr, you are right in that there should be a fast track for those that can prove themselves. Unfortunately most programs must be aimed at the 'average' guy.
On being a doctor, it's more like 8 yrs. and much more difficult.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the thoughts all. It appears the board will count an electrical engineering degree for 1 year of experience. Teetor, in my MD example I was assuming a degree already. Medical school recognizes a bachelors but the electrician's board only marginally so. :)

Coming out of high school and into a program would be one thing. As a career changer, pretty tough to think about working for trainee wages 4-5 years and then building a business...
 

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Back up the truck! You want to go into business as a CONTRACTOR? You do not need to be an electrician, it would help but is not required (here).
I have a friend of 25yrs. that owns the 2nd largest elecrical business in the area and I wouldn't trust him personally to wire a table lamp.
See if you can aquire a mentor in your area, the SBA is a good place to start.
 

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In GA you have to prove 5 years of working in the field before you are allowed to take the test. Their are 12 differant sections on the aplication that you have to show some some knowledge in. Depending on how many of the 12 sections you can do, allows you to take the class 1 or class 2 test. Class 1 is retricted to 200 amps or less and single phase. Class 2 is unrestricted and can do any work anywhere in the state. One or the other is required to have a business license. You can only certify one business with one license, and you can have as many people working for you as you want.
 
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