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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, my name is Matt. I work right now with a local subcontractor doing odd jobs around the worksite. I've learned a little bit about laying tile and basic carpentry but that's it.

I am getting out of the military soon (terminal leave) and I need some advice.

I have the post 9-11 GI bill which means I can go to school for free pretty much anywhere I want. I would love to go to a good technical college and learn a real skilled trade. The thing is I don't know which ones are in demand and pay well and which ones are not.

My dream is to own my own small independent one-man business. I was thinking plumbing would be a good choice. I've heard here and there that plumbers are in high demand. Can you guys help me out? If you were in my situation and could go to school for free and study whatever trade you wanted, what would you choose?
 

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Frankly, if I were in your situation I would not go to school to be a tradesman unless your dream involved employees to share the heavy lifting.

I love my job and I hate the thought of driving a desk but I'm young and my body is falling apart already. I have a BA in English that I'll use someday, maybe to teach high school.
 

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The Ultimate Wire Hider
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If you were in my situation and could go to school for free and study whatever trade you wanted, what would you choose?
Fiber optics. It's what everyone is using these days. Every cable company, phone company, satellite company, and wireless communications company is running their network across fiber optic cabling. The guys who pull the cable and terminate the head ends in new buildings make very good money.

I don't know if copper is obsolete but it's been a while since I've seen a 200 pair line in a new building.
 

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This isn't construction related but I saw an interview with a representative from a train company who said they had and are expected to have a shortage of people who run them, said they pay really well. Only thing with a career like that you're on the road, or should I say track, a lot.
 

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Butcher of wood and metal
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One of the things that matter is what are you good at or have a interest in. Do you have any natural ablities. Some trades you don't just go to school then go start a bussiness. It takes lots of time to get to that point.
Good luck on what ever you deside.
 

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H.V.A.C. is a good trade. There will always be a demand for our services, and there is a bit of carry over.

You wont get rich, lots of crawlspace duty, and breathing bad stuff. But, you may want to look into this field. Auto / Diesel Mechanical is another field that I would look into, in regards to trades. Third field would involve web page design, app design...etc. This computer stuff isn't leaving anytime soon.

Finally, if there were one Skill to "learn", it would be the school in which they teach you how to close the deal. If you know how to close the deal, you will find work anywhere.
 

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The Dude
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If you're willing to travel the elevator mechanic / fiber optic tech are good ideas. They are specialized though, so you can't just get a job anywhere doing them. Expect to travel.

If you're looking for more local, and ability to go anywhere and ply your trade - there are two that come to mind:

Mechanical (plumbing/hvac) and electrical. Carpentry can be ok - they're the first in and the last out on a job.
 

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I'd go for water jockey or sparky. People always need to go to the bathroom, and like to read when they do.
No regrets being a splinter jockey, but if I could do it over again, I'd be a Coreman in the service, then a Nurse in Civilian life.
Best of luck to you.
 

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The Dude
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H.V.A.C. is a good trade. There will always be a demand for our services, and there is a bit of carry over.
Yes - to be a good HVAC tech you have to know electrical. You have to know plumbing. You have to have other mechanical skills.

You don't have to be a plumber, or an electrician - but the skills do cross over.

That being said, I've seen more electrical and plumbing butchery done by HVAC techs - and roof butchery - jumping jesus on a pogo stick are HVAC guys the worst butchers of roofs ever or what?

Learn how to properly flash a stack PLEASE!!! It's not that friggin hard ...

Around here when the hvac guys run their own wire from the panel it's atrocious. They pull it like it's cat 5 in a drop ceiling. Same with the pan drains. Water runs downhill, and the joints have to be glued even though there's no pressure in them.

And I know it doesn't matter if the pipe is sloped correctly, and it doesn't look awesome (as if a pipe sticking out a wall ever does) but an elbow on the outside might help keep condensate from running down a wall staining it, and at least use a decent urethane around the penetration.

Or just do what most of them do and jackhammer a hole and stuff a pipe in it sloped back toward the unit with unglued joints. Keeps the painters and sheetrock guys busy :whistling
 

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Fiber optics. It's what everyone is using these days. Every cable company, phone company, satellite company, and wireless communications company is running their network across fiber optic cabling. The guys who pull the cable and terminate the head ends in new buildings make very good money.

I don't know if copper is obsolete but it's been a while since I've seen a 200 pair line in a new building.
Ted if running and terminating fiber optic cable was lucrative I'd be buying everyone here drinks. :laughing:

You won't kill copper anytime soon because of it's unique ability to carry power.

And I wouldn't say fiber is becoming more popular, it is already really popular, what I'm seeing more growth in is wireless backhaul links.
 
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The Dude
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Ted if running and terminating fiber optic cable was lucrative I'd be buying everyone here drinks. :laughing:

You won't kill copper anytime soon because of it's unique ability to carry power.

And I wouldn't say fiber is becoming more popular, it is already really popular, what I'm seeing more growth in is wireless backhaul links.
Fiber doesn't carry power so good for sure.

What are these wireless backhauls you speak of?

I was looking into a company 15 or so years ago called Terabeam. Laser over free (no FCC) air - no fiber. It looked pretty promising back then. Anything similar to that these days?
 

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Fiber doesn't carry power so good for sure.

What are these wireless backhauls you speak of?

I was looking into a company 15 or so years ago called Terabeam. Laser over free (no FCC) air - no fiber. It looked pretty promising back then. Anything similar to that these days?
Oh yeah, terabeam is now proxim, I don't use their products though. Many out there now.
 

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The Ultimate Wire Hider
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Ted if running and terminating fiber optic cable was lucrative I'd be buying everyone here drinks. :laughing:
I'm not talking about pulling a 12-strand from one telecom closet to another and cleaving unicams on the end of it. I'm talking about working with the 144's and 288's from the manhole and doing splices going back to the CO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey guys. I'm so grateful for all your input. I appreciate it.

Elevator mechanic sounds cool, and I reckon that there must not be a hell of a lot of them, but I'm not big on travelling. I already did that, lol, for 6 years although sometimes that involved being shot at so maybe it soured my experiences a bit LOL.

Carpentry would actually be my first choice, as I love working with wood, but it seems to me that you'd only make money when the real estate economy was hot and people were building. I'd love to even do fine woodworking, but let's face it most people buy cheap crap made in China and won't pay a premium for hand crafted stuff.

I'm thinking- correct me if I'm wrong- that a maintainer type job would be better as opposed to a building type job. Stuff always breaks, most people can't fix it themselves so they need someone to help them out.

Where I live, there are a ton of HVAC dudes and HVAC companies. Maybe its b/c its hotter than hell here 8 months of the year! So, that one (at least regionally) is out for me too.

The apprenticeship concept for plumbing sounds interesting as I have looked into it a little bit. I even read they have special slots for vets in some areas, that's cool. AFAIK, you contact a union in the area and ask them if they have any apprenticeships open. Does anyone on here have experience going that route?

Thanks again!
 

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The Grand Wazoo
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This isn't construction related but I saw an interview with a representative from a train company who said they had and are expected to have a shortage of people who run them, said they pay really well. Only thing with a career like that you're on the road, or should I say track, a lot.
There are many benefits of working in the railroad industry, but there is also the other side of the coin, the railroad is highly federally regulated, to the point of it being ridiculous. I have seen a lot of people get fired from class 1 and 2 railroads for relatively minor offenses because it is the easiest way to make the F.R.A. happy.

Railroad retirement does beat the hell out of paying into social security though, my pension will be there in 25 years, will yours?
 

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I'm not talking about pulling a 12-strand from one telecom closet to another and cleaving unicams on the end of it. I'm talking about working with the 144's and 288's from the manhole and doing splices going back to the CO.
We have two major telecommunications companies, they each have a couple local companies that service and terminate their fiber, one different company runs the wires. Starting your own company and hoping to get a contract with one of two companies would be a bit of a stretch. I don't know what it's like in your area.
 
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