Getting Started in Electric Design

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Joe Wasner

89 months ago

I am an IBEW Local 701 Electrician with a growing interest in Electrical Design. I would like to receive some tips on getting started in this field. Are all designers Electrical Engineers? Is it possible to get started in this field with
experience as an Electrician, knowledge of the NEC, and AutoCad classs?
Please Advise

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Emma (Host) in Stamford, Connecticut

89 months ago

Although I am not very familiar with this line of field, I would suggest doing some additional networking through social network sites like LinkedIn and Ryze.

You can also do a job search on Indeed (www.indeed.com) and do some background research on the companies that are hiring. Here is a search I did for you to get you started:
www.indeed.com/jobs?q=Electrical+Designer&l=

Take a look at the left-hand Refinement margin. This will give you a good overview of the most popular job titles, companies, locations and so on that match your search. You should also take a look at the "More Actions" link located on the last line of each job listing. This link is loaded with great background information.

Good luck!

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Wanderer in Saint Louis, Missouri

88 months ago

I don't know if you have to be an Engineer, I wouldn't think so. I'd try posting questions like this in places where designers hang out...
I'd personally recommend the Autodesk User's Group International (AUGI) or the Autodesk Discussion groups.

www.augi.com (sign up for free membership and navigate to forums, there are a lot of helpful people here to help you out)

discussion.autodesk.com/forum.jspa?forumID=112

Good luck!

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Albourn in New York, New York

75 months ago

Hi Joe, you don’t have to have an EE degree to be a designer. You can check with your local collage and they most likely will have classes the teach electrical designing

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Jason in Huntingtown, Maryland

72 months ago

Hello Joe! I am an electrical designer in training for an MEP firm. I've been in training for 1 year right now and I don;t have my degree. With your experience in the electrical field, you would be valuable to the MEP firms than someone with a degree and no knowledge of the building codes.

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Joe Wasner in Cary, Illinois

72 months ago

Thanks for responding Jason. Could you please tell me what MEP stands for and do you know of any of these firms in the Chicaoland area. Thanks Joe

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PJonz in Chelsea, Oklahoma

71 months ago

You absolutely do not have to be a EE to be a designer. In fact, designers are actually one step below a EE. In my experience, a senior designer can command a higher salary in some circumstances. The best knowledge and also what looks good on a resume is the fact that you are/were an electrician. There is not much call for designers in the commercial field so I hope that you have industrial experience. Heavy industrial as in refineries and petrochemical plants is preferred. The type of company looking for these skills are called EPC's, standing for Engineering, Procurement and Construction. The best way to learn the requirements by the way is only through "on the job training". Best of luck, we will desperately need more qualified instrumentation and electrical designers in the future.

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Malcom in Houston, Texas

60 months ago

Joe Wasner said: I am an IBEW Local 701 Electrician with a growing interest in Electrical Design. I would like to receive some tips on getting started in this field. Are all designers Electrical Engineers? Is it possible to get started in this field with
experience as an Electrician, knowledge of the NEC, and AutoCad classs?
Please Advise

hello Joe, I too was an IBEW electrician out of Local 1 St. Louis,Mo. had some health issues and had to leave the field. So I went to a community college to take some autocad classes, and now I am an electrical designer. I was working as a GF making $31.00 hr. now as an electrical designer, just after 2 years i make $53.05 hr.
My advise is to enroll in a class at a local community college, contact all MEP firms in your area tell them what you are trying to do and wait for the offers. I started my class and within days a local firm heard about me and my back ground and came to my class room and offered me a job. They know that we see what needs to go on the prints and they value our input. I DO NOT have a degree of any kind and I am not a senior designer.

Malcom

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Ron in Montrose, Colorado

60 months ago

Malcom in Houston, Texas said: hello Joe, I too was an IBEW electrician out of Local 1 St. Louis,Mo. had some health issues and had to leave the field. So I went to a community college to take some autocad classes, and now I am an electrical designer. I was working as a GF making $31.00 hr. now as an electrical designer, just after 2 years i make $53.05 hr.
My advise is to enroll in a class at a local community college, contact all MEP firms in your area tell them what you are trying to do and wait for the offers. I started my class and within days a local firm heard about me and my back ground and came to my class room and offered me a job. They know that we see what needs to go on the prints and they value our input. I DO NOT have a degree of any kind and I am not a senior designer.

Malcom

Malcom,

I recently moved from the Houston area to CO.
I am curious as to what classes you took and at what college.
I am a licensed electician with 20 years experience in industrial and commercial.
I have a AutoCad certificate from Tomball College and i have been interested in doing electrical design.
Currently working as an electrical specialist on government projects, but no where near 53.05/hr.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Feel free to contact me directly a ronniejsmith@yxxxx.com. I would really appreciate it.

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Marty Breedlove in Kingston Springs, Tennessee

54 months ago

I my name is Marty. I am young age 24 trying to find what I want to do with my life. I have an interest in electricity and i want to explore a career with it. I'm not to sure what I should do to get started, since I am very inexperienced with the electrical industry. The most experience I have with electricity is that I am enrolled in a community college about to finish my associates applied science in electrical engineering technology, but I don't know how far that goes, since I have discovered that hands on experience really counts more than the educational experience. Anyways, I am interested in electrical design, particularly with buildings and such, so if anyone with experience has any pointers for me on how to get started with this, please reply. It will be appreciated.

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Zuy in Grand Prairie, Texas

53 months ago

I have a degree in Electrical Engineering from a 4 year university and 2 years of electrical design under my belt. I'm currently 25 years old and was recently laid off! I only made about $29/hr. What I did was mainly power distribution in retrofitted spaces, or however the client wanted their space to be. The work usually includes power plans, lighting plans, oneline/riser diagrams, load summaries, lighting calculations, fault current calculations, and panel schedules. There's actually a lot more to it then that, but those are the main plans that are worked on in design. The work can be very tedious if you work for an MEP firm that does a lot of small projects with short deadlines. The stress comes in when your MEP firm gets a tiny fee and tries to squeeze efficiency from designers; it was the problem with the firm I worked with. I once had 6 projects with deadlines on the SAME DAY... obviously there was a management problem.
Anyways it can be a great profession. I'm currently working towards my PE license, but I would recommend working for firm that does more hospital work or large scale building development projects.
Also, with the slump in the economy and businesses cutting back and real estate prices reduced, I would think a job in this profession might be difficult to find at the moment. When I was working just a couple months ago, MANY projects were constantly postponed and/or canceled. If the revenue doesn't come in.. people get laid off and a hiring freeze goes into effect. But it will pick back up again so it's not a total disaster.

To MALCOM from Houston, TX.. how in the world are you making $53 as a designer?!! I'm up here in Dallas, and I've never heard of or met a designer making that much.. seems like licensed PE salary! Or maybe I'm just too young to know and I'm underpaid?! I dont know. according to my calculations, $53/hr is over $110k per

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Zuy in Grand Prairie, Texas

53 months ago

I have a degree in Electrical Engineering from a 4 year university and 2 years of electrical design under my belt. I'm currently 25 years old and was recently laid off! I only made about $29/hr. What I did was mainly power distribution in retrofitted spaces, or however the client wanted their space to be. The work usually includes power plans, lighting plans, oneline/riser diagrams, load summaries, lighting calculations, fault current calculations, and panel schedules. There's actually a lot more to it then that, but those are the main plans that are worked on in design. The work can be very tedious if you work for an MEP firm that does a lot of small projects with short deadlines. The stress comes in when your MEP firm gets a tiny fee and tries to squeeze efficiency from designers; it was the problem with the firm I worked with. I once had 6 projects with deadlines on the SAME DAY... obviously there was a management problem.
Anyways it can be a great profession. I'm currently working towards my PE license, but I would recommend working for firm that does more hospital work or large scale building development projects.
Also, with the slump in the economy and businesses cutting back and real estate prices reduced, I would think a job in this profession might be difficult to find at the moment. When I was working just a couple months ago, MANY projects were constantly postponed and/or canceled. If the revenue doesn't come in.. people get laid off and a hiring freeze goes into effect. But it will pick back up again so it's not a total disaster.

To MALCOM from Houston, TX.. how in the world are you making $53 as a designer?!! I'm up here in Dallas, and I've never heard of or met a designer making that much.. seems like licensed PE salary! Or maybe I'm just too young to know and I'm underpaid?! I dont know. according to my calculations, $53/hr is over $110k per year

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James in Anaheim, California

53 months ago

Find It jobs you've been looking for, www.finditjobs.org/

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James in Anaheim, California

53 months ago

Find it jobs here, www.finditjobs.org/

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Kevin in Englewood, Colorado

52 months ago

I am an electrical designer and the answer to your question is no you don't have to be an engineer. If you are an electricain with Autocad skills then you are ahead of 95% of the entry leveel designers.
Think of an electrical designer like you would electricains, a new aprentice doesn't know much but they learn and become journeymen, and they all work under a master electricain. In your case the engineer is the "master" and depending on your abilities you can be his journeyman if you can do the work or you may be the aprentice if you are just learning. You seem have the knowlage to do the job, now you have to be able to communicat it on paper.

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Mitch in Lakewood, Colorado in Denver, Colorado

52 months ago

Kevin in Englewood, Colorado said: I am an electrical designer and the answer to your question is no you don't have to be an engineer. If you are an electricain with Autocad skills then you are ahead of 95% of the entry leveel designers.
Think of an electrical designer like you would electricains, a new aprentice doesn't know much but they learn and become journeymen, and they all work under a master electricain. In your case the engineer is the "master" and depending on your abilities you can be his journeyman if you can do the work or you may be the aprentice if you are just learning. You seem have the knowlage to do the job, now you have to be able to communicat it on paper.

Kevin I just moved to the Denver area and I am looking for an Electrical Design job. I worked for a medium size firm in Las Vegas as a Commercial Project Manager. Can you give me any tips on where to apply? Also what is the salary range in this region?

Thank you

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Dale Reeves in Houston, Texas

45 months ago

Zuy in Grand Prairie, Texas
Hello,
I am a Sr. Electrical Designer in Houston Tx. I have been in design for 25+ years and have been making in excess of $50.00/hr for over 15 years. The value is related to the job requirements and experience level more than anything else.
A degree is a good door opener but having trained many "new" Engineers over the years ittakes a lot of on site experience to command the higher pay scale.
Unfortunatly the current employment outlook makes it more difficult to get into the upper reaches of the industry. This will improve over the next few years but not in the near future (IMHO).
I wish you good luck for your future assignments.

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April in Vero Beach, Florida

45 months ago

hi I am new to the electrical world. I have worked as an Autocad Draftsmen for the last 10+ years in the Civil Engineering field - until I was laid off 2 years ago =(.
Anyway I got into a state workforce program and got a job as an Electrical Designer. So far I feel as if I'm picking up alot of it pretty quickly. I still have a hard time fully understanding it all though - mainly in my load calc's.
I need to work on not overloading the circuits or to get the amps on the breakers right, and to calculate the right size conductors. Autocad MEP kind of does its own calculation, I just need to be able to look at it all and have things jump out to me that are obviously wrong. My boss has provided me with Mike Holts NEC Books and I am watching his videos - basically self teaching.
Any other suggestions on how I might pick up on this a little quicker? it has only been two months - not sure how long it took some of you. Any advice would be greatly appreciated =) Thanks!

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Nick in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

44 months ago

April,

I stated my career as an electrician and moved to electrical design. I have been an electrical designer now for almost 5 years. The biggest thing you need is repetition. Eventually you will know off the top of your head that a standard 120v receptacle uses 180 watts and 32 watts per lamp on a fluorescent 2x4 32 watt fixture plus ballast factor. As a rule of thumb that is easy to remember is 200 watts per receptacle and 50 watts per lamp for a 32 watt fixture. With these numbers you can quickly count up wattages of fixtures and receptacles for circuiting. Also you will just have to memorize that a 20 amp circuit can never have more than 1800 watts on the circuit (because a thermo magnetic breaker can only handle 80% of the actual load before you could have nuisance tripping) therefore only load a 20 amp circuit to 15 amps. I think as long as you know where to reference to get the information you need you can complete most of your tasks. I would also suggest you get very familiar with the NEC book.

Just remember that no one knows it all when they start. There is going to be a learning curve and it is not something you will pick up over night. Just stay positive and if you have questions do not be afraid to ask. It’s better to ask a question and get it right than to cause thousands of dollars in change orders and not ask the question. Everyone (even your boss) had questions at one point in their life.

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Rudy G. in Midland, Texas

26 months ago

Electrical designers are hard to come by. Piping design is very popular with all the 3D. We need experienced electrical designers in my office. If you are interested in moving to west Texas area. Send me a message.

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