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Advice on training
MrJack96
134 Posts
Hi guys just wanted some advice on career progression and my options. Here is a bit about me. 

I’m 25 served originally a mechanical apprenticeship then completed a HNC in mechanical engineering. I was always curious about the electrical industry and wanted to know more and learn more so I decided to work for a company carrying out maintenance where I then completed an electrical apprenticeship. I am a very inquisitive individual so as you can imagine have many questions on topics I’d like to understand better which at a technician level is not always possible getting the answers off peers. 

My interest is in electrical engineering and am wanting to hopefully study towards a HND/ maybe a degree but wanted advice on what you guys reckon is best. I am currently in full time work. Not sure if it’s best to stay where I am and self fund a HND while I still work (I know it may be hard as I don’t think I will be allocated any time at work to study). Or to potentially find a job with another company which will support my studies? 

thank you for your help in advance guys 

Jack 
4 Replies
Zoomup
2724 Posts
MrJack96:
Hi guys just wanted some advice on career progression and my options. Here is a bit about me. 

I’m 25 served originally a mechanical apprenticeship then completed a HNC in mechanical engineering. I was always curious about the electrical industry and wanted to know more and learn more so I decided to work for a company carrying out maintenance where I then completed an electrical apprenticeship. I am a very inquisitive individual so as you can imagine have many questions on topics I’d like to understand better which at a technician level is not always possible getting the answers off peers. 

My interest is in electrical engineering and am wanting to hopefully study towards a HND/ maybe a degree but wanted advice on what you guys reckon is best. I am currently in full time work. Not sure if it’s best to stay where I am and self fund a HND while I still work (I know it may be hard as I don’t think I will be allocated any time at work to study). Or to potentially find a job with another company which will support my studies? 

thank you for your help in advance guys 

Jack 

You may find some sage advice from working electricians and consultants on the I.E.T's Wiring & Regulations' forum.

Z.

Roy Bowdler
833 Posts
Jack,

The differences between “electrical” and “mechanical”, depend on the industry sector.  I’m not clear from your post, where the experience that you describe has taken place.  I have direct experience of managing the training of electrical and mechanical specialists, in the energy and built environment sectors and a good working appreciation of the field in general, although I’m now recently retired. I’m assuming that your work to date has been “on the tools” and that your aspiration is now to move into project/design engineering and/or management?

In the HNC/D and Bachelor Degree programmes that I was most recently involved in, some modules/units, were common to both M&E specialists and others were different. So, it could have been possible to study additional elements and cover both. However, in practice once someone started to specialise in the workplace, that was the type of work that they got and became “comfortable” in.

Going further back, I was involved in “multiskilling” for technicians in the power industry, but it seems like you have already crossed that bridge. There was then and still is, some resistance to any type of work crossing “traditional boundaries”, amongst skilled trades, chartered engineers and places in between.  Although it has long been widely accepted in certain types of maintenance activities, or production teams.  

My advice based on limited understanding, is to focus first on employment and the type of roles that appeal to you.

For someone with a reasonable level of experience, the exact nature of your HNC/D isn’t likely to be highly relevant to an employer. Although, for some engineering roles a degree is expected and you might be outcompeted by others without one. Subject content is rarely a critical factor except for very specialised design roles.

In the right role it is perfectly possible to learn more useful and relevant aspects of engineering at work, than it is by studying for a higher education course. Exactly what is taught on courses varies by the college/university, even if the modules seem superficially the same (outlines can usually be found on- line).

You may enjoy some more formal study and find elements that can be applied to your work. However, most academic programmes, are designed primarily for teenagers with little or no experience, so there could also be quite a lot of “wastage” i.e., learning that you cannot usefully apply.       
 
MrJack96
134 Posts
Thank you for your response. 

I work for a water company so a lot of generators, inverters, motors plc work. And yes I’m on the tools but would ideally like to end up in more of an electrical engineering role. I find being on the tools we just tend to get in the mindset of accepting things are the way they are and not questioning why and the reasoning behind it which is my problem as I want to learn more. I know for certain roles such as  instrumentation technician requirements HND for certain companies. 
Roy Bowdler
833 Posts
As a rough generalisation based on my past experience, for project engineering and commissioning work as an “engineer” or “senior technician” (titles may vary), most employers might have a higher national benchmark in mind.  Those with design responsibility, i.e “consultants” are more likely to set a degree benchmark, with Chartered for more senior roles. However, most employers are pragmatic, even if some HR & recruiters can be more rigid, especially if there are plenty of prospective employees. They will hire on work track record and may be prepared to support a committed employee in further development, although they have to make a call on productivity in the light of their business model. It is for hard to find time for learning if you are “up to your neck in it”, working overtime etc.    

The skills you refer to are “industrial” and not generally the realm of Electricians focussed on domestic and small commercial work. The HND/Degree that I described was Building Services Engineering on a large scale, which would have included some overlap into process industries, such as pharmaceutical, petrochemical, water, etc.

Each sector tends to have specialist contractors and consultants as well as the main operating companies themselves. There are some specialist training facilities including supplier run and colleges/universities who specialise in supporting “local” industries.


I wouldn’t discourage you from considering further formal study, but shop round carefully, specific skills training may add more immediate value. Your primary aim should be “career development” not just “training” or “study”.

To make progress you need the chance to learn on the job, with increasing responsibility. Whether that responsibility is technical (including more electrical/ C&I) or managerial (potential overview of  MEICA or operations) depends on what motivates you and what opportunities emerge.  If you are well prepared and flexible, then you may be better placed to grasp such opportunities.    

 

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