Career Decisions

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by tindel, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    I work in a very specialized industry. I design and build cards that go into 'one-off' boxes. Each box has quite a bit of heritage design, but each box has it's own special challenges. They wanted me to be the box lead AND design a card in the box from the ground up. I can only do one of the two tasks in the time-frame they've given me without going crazy, and I told them I wanted to design the card.

    Why was my boss shocked when I told him I wanted to design the card? Seems to me that management thinks everyone wants their career path. I.E. Card lead, box lead, subsystem lead, then middle management.

    You should have seen my face when the boss asked if he should open a req! I didn't think he'd do it. I told him 'yep' without missing a beat.

    That was one of the toughest but easiest things to do in my entire life - I've been raised to never tell the boss 'no' or 'I can't'. At the same time, it was a huge monkey off my back and I sent a big message - I want to be the engineer - living in the lab... solving problems and delivering results that work.

    Any similar stories? How'd it turn out?
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
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  2. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    Bosses are such primadonnas. They would rather have someone incompetant that they can control rather than someone who can do the job well. Consider yours is a speciality who cannot be easily filled, and anyone making that sort of a thread is just a nincompoop. It's the right thing for you to do to be assertive with him, otherwise he'll just continue to run you over. It's a risk, but you would be very difficult to replace ( don't let my convince you otherwise ) so you do have some leverage.

    I quit a steady job awhile back and went into the unstable world of contracting to get away from an arrogant, idiot of a boss. Those guys aren't worth wasting my time on.
     
  3. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    I've found most bosses have no idea about the tech side of work. They just think its like a computer where you plug the green cord in the green hole. I gave up trying to explain things to them because in the end they just hear what they wanna hear.
     
  4. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    Ha! I think the bosses think we're the primadonnas! I feel like they always think the employees want 'less' work, better benefits, and more pay (including OT). The engineers at my work complain a lot about those things... maybe it's just the culture... I think everyone is wanting better medical benefits these days though.

    I did talk to my bosses boss yesterday - I was surprised when he was very supportive of my decision, and he just wanted to encourage me to keep doing what I wanted to do.

    I've thought a lot about going the contractor route, and I know several here have recently. I am watching their progress here closely. I have done some contract work on the side in the past, but without a PE I'm afraid it will be hard to find stable contract work.

    maxpower - I actually brought a list to the meeting to my boss (he likes lists) outlining the major things that needed to be done for the box and the card and explained to him that it was at least 2 heads worth of work... if not 2.5 or 3. It seemed to get the point across to him.
     
  5. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Sounds like you're doing the right thing.
    If I were the boss, yes, I would want to see a list, a plan and objectives.
    I would want to see the risks and how you plan to mitigate those risks.
    No boss would want to hear about non-solutions. Come up with complete plans from end to end with all angles covered. This is called doing due diligence.
     
  6. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    Nonsense. I don't have a PE, and I've got work coming out my ears (for now) However, if you can work it so that you're happy, then I wouldn't recommend going contractor. There are no bennefits, no paid vacation and you job is not permanent. Better to work it out so you are happy where you are. But if you can't then contracting might be a good deal.
     
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  7. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    I do contract work too and while it has its moments, it does lack a certain stability. Once Obamacare or some sort of national health care is installed I think the goods will out weigh the bads. Personally my only regret not going big corporate are the health benefits. It can wipe you out in the blink of an eye.
     
  8. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    Fair enough... I'm not opposed to contracting, I just thought a PE would help. There are several things that are attractive about contracting. Of course, it's a big pay raise... I know my company is billing me at $150/hr, minimum... of course they have overhead, but I figure they are pocketing about $50 for each hour that I work.

    I figure I could demand $125/hr for my specialty - battery charge control - and $75 to $100 for things that aren't my specialty - but I have the knowledge to make them happen quickly. Is this optimistic? If I could get 20 billable hours a week at those rates - then I'd make more than enough to feed the family, pay taxes, and afford decent medical coverage.

    Other benefits include working from home, working my own hours, being in the mountains during the week and working on the weekend.

    Every time I think about this, I'm very tempted to put an ad on craigslist and find out what pops up. I think I could easily work 20 hour weeks and maintain my current job - for a little while anyway - at least until contracting work became somewhat stable.
     
  9. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    I think $100 an hour is pushing it in the tech industry for more then 4-5 hours per client. But depends how in demand your specialty is. Typically under contract doing a certain job I shoot for $40-$60 an hour. I may be selling myself cheap but I'm comfortable with those wages. And I can usually pick up 10-20 hours a week. If I'm guaranteed 40 hours for a week I'll do $30 an hour. I also have no overhead and don't advertise or anything. All my work comes from word of mouth.
     
  10. Duane P Wetick

    Active Member

    Apr 23, 2009
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    I did contract work for my former employer at a rate that they set ($30.00/Hr) and also worked for GE as a contractor at a slightly better rate.
    In both cases, once the contract was completed, new assignments were difficult to get. One assignment that I turned down meant working out of town in a hazardous location (coal mine). Another contractor that I met said he was always picked for out of town work that the full time employees refused. So I would say that contract work probably would be my second choice of jobs.

    Cheers, DPW [Everything has limitations...and I hate limitations.]
     
  11. KL7AJ

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 4, 2008
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    As the saying goes...no guts, no glory. Congratulations!

    I have seen TOO many engineers ruined by trying to get into management. You did the right thing if engineering is in your blood. It will carry you through any bad times...

    May you have unspeakable success!
    Eric
     
  12. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    Man - you guys (and/or gals?) are affordable!

    Thanks for the input. It sounds like my thoughts on contracting wages are pie-in-the-sky dreams. I couldn't do $30 an hour - not even with a 40 hours guaranteed money - that would be a big pay cut for me now. I figure I'd have to make at least twice what I'm making now to pay overhead (scopes, printers, computers, spectrum analyzers, medical, etc.)

    I was envisioning working with companies that wanted a full-fledged engineer with a diverse background, but didn't want to have someone on staff full-time. Yeah it costs them more hourly, but they aren't paying a full salary - a 'pay-by-the-drink' sort of arrangement.
     
  13. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    I get considerably more than $30/hr. But, I use an agency, and so I have to split my money with them. You can make more if you do your own marketing, but that means you need to have good contacts. I don't have that, so I don't make as much as I could. The agency gets me work though, so it works for me.
     
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  14. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
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    It's all relative to the local economics, but I'm doing $45/hr employed, $120/hr contracting. The last 3 months have seen no less than 12 OT hours per week. Buddy that's bugging me to fly up north for a 2 week in/out quotes $78/hr. That's based on a Electrical TQ. My plan is to add an Instrumentation TQ which guarantees base rates of $60/hr, running up to $90/hr (although I'm rapidly running out of time). Senior Engineers are easily into the $200K+/annual on salary.

    As individuals, one of our biggest challenges is charting a career pathway, and balancing it with our other social/personal needs. But the good news is, that here in North America, we have a choice.
     
  15. KL7AJ

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 4, 2008
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    We're affordable? We just haven't sent you our bill yet. :)
     
  16. tindel

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    This is more along the lines of what I'd expect. I have a buddy that builds websites and he turns people away for anything less than $100/hr for his contract work. I figure I demand at least that for my expertise.
     
  17. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    I just got my first bill for a one day hospital stay to get a benign lump removed from just under the skin...$68,000. I must be in the wrong business.
     
  18. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
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    Something has to give,that amount of money...some one has to be skimming from

    the profits.
     
  19. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    Nope you just in FL! Just think your asprin was $8,000. ;) They want $22,000 to do a laser out patient back surgery on me that will take 2 hours total time from when I walk in to walk out. Which I have no problem paying because I pay it on medications anyways. The key is medicaitons you can pay little by little. For the surgery they want it all up front.
     
  20. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    When I was doing web work I ran into this nearly everyday. I don't know how good your friend was but you have so many pretend designers out their its nearly impossible to do real web work for anyone that doesn't know what their doing. Typically after your friend charges them $100 an hour and the pay $5000-$10000 for 50-100 hour of work and it looks like crap for a 5 figure website. So I get the call to come rescue them. I would go in at $30 an hour and burn up 20 hour fixing all the template errors they left in the template. Redo all the grafix, redo all the meta's, SEO, etc.. till they get the site they were wanting to start.Usually what happened is they hired someone for an ungodly amount of money like $100 for standard web design and the bill adds up to 10 time what the sites worth. So I go in an rescue the site for $2000 or so. Whats funny is what they would play hard ball and refuse to give me the code. I would then rewrite everything and have the client then sue them. I'd write em out a nice letter saying the site was completely non working and had to be redone from the ground up. So far they've all won and got their money back.
     
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