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Author Topic: Considering a career change...  (Read 561 times)
KE4MOB
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« on: April 30, 2003, 02:38:20 PM »

I'm anticipating a layoff in the next few months and was thinking about getting deeper into the electronics/radio area.  How much does a commercial license (either GROL or 2nd class Radiotelegraph Operator) add to the resume?  I've had my Extra since '94, so I've already passed my 20 WPM so I was considering using that to my advantage...

Steve, KE4MOB
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2003, 02:54:29 PM »

I can't answer that, since I haven't used my commercial licenses for anything in decades.

However: Great question!

Although I don't really know the answer, I can recommend one thing, as someone who's been a ham a long time, and has been gainfully employed for 37 years now: Use ham radio to network for jobs.  It works.  

Many hams hold high level positions in industry and give preferential treatment to fellow amateurs, especially ones who impress them, when hiring.  I have hired many people, and weighing a competent ham against anyone else with similar credentials, the choice is clear: I'll hire the ham, if I can.

But not just "any" ham.  Someone who is active, and has done something with and for the hobby.  Someone who homebrews their gear; someone who is published; someone who is known and respected in the amateur community.  That's someone I'd like working for me, and likely every ham who is also a manager feels the same way.

Definitely use ham radio to network, starting right now!

WB2WIK/6
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KC5CQW
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2003, 02:56:39 PM »

     I'm thinking of the same thing! I have my GROL plus my General ticket. I decided to get a "formal" education in electronics at my local collage. The instructor there told me that once I graduate from the A.S. in electronics technology program, with my background in radio I should be placed in a job within a week. He also told me about a 19 y/o with no job exp. graduated and now holds a job at Xerox corp. making about $75k. He didn't know about radio like we do.
     He did tell me that a GROL alone is almost worthless, he has one, however useing it with other training and exp. on a resume' will really help land a good job. Good luck! and 73's, Damon KC5CQW
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AC5E
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2003, 03:17:29 PM »

Well, our local VE team gives commercial exams. Most of our commercial candidates need at least a GROL to step up in the company they already work for. I doubt a second telegraph would add a lot - but the radar and other endorsements definitely will.

And Steve is correct. The best tactic for those expecting a layoff is to find a new job while you still have one. Use your ham ticket and on air contacts to spread the word you expect to be redundant shortly. It works and it works well.

73  Pete Allen  AC5E
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W5HTW
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2003, 05:30:38 PM »

A lot depends upon age, relocation willingness, formal education, personal background, etc.  

The General Radio Telephone Ticket is not necessary for work in broadcast radio or television.  Instead, the Society of Broadcast Engineers Certification is more important, thanks to the devaluation of the First Phone ticket in the early 80s, and the deregulation of broadcast.  

The GROL is good to have if you plan to enter two-way radio servicing.  Even there, though, bench technicians often are not licensed, and a GROL holder simply signs off on work done.  

The commercial Telegraph license is almost limited to shipboard operations, and without endorsements such as Maritime and Radar, is virtually useless, since ships don't use CW anymore!  

As a "feather in the cap" on a resume, the GROL or Telegraph will mean just about zilch to most employers, except for those niche employers such as boat repair facilities, communications facilities, and the like.  The Extra Class ham ticket means even less and is best left off resumes.   In fact, I found it better not to mention ham radio at all, neither on the resume nor in an interview.  

Since around the 1970s, hams were viewed as "independent tinkerers who thought they knew more than they do and were unwilling to just do the job" (the approximate composite wording of a few of the people with whom I interviewed back then.)  The implication was hams hired on the basis of a ham license were not very capable and were more likely to fool around rather than follow instructions.  By the time I was in a position to be hiring people, I found the mention of a ham license on a resume made me take a harder look at the person's other qualifications.  It would not be even a small factor in whether or not the person was hired.  It would not go against them, but it would not weigh in their favor.

That is unfortunate but it appeared to be a fact.  The primary place a ham license seems to qualify one to work is in a ham radio sales/service setting.  It can also help you get an SBE certification, which is respected both in and outside the broadcast industry.

A correspondence course in basic electronics carries some weight, and certifications in programming or digital systems (IT field) helps make one employable.  Non-ham electronics experience, such as working in a consumer repair facility, is of some use, but the big thing employers seek is either formal training in the field, or formal experience in the field.  

With an impending layoff, it may be best to look at non-electronics careers, if a ham license is the primary qualifying factor for electronics work.  You may not have time to get certified in computers, or in SBE, or to take a correspondence course!  A "right now" situation (or even a 'near future' one) can mean looking at sales, management, consulting, truck driving, (many companies train, and pay very well) or just taking an office job while studying on the side to do something else.

Bottom line: The Extra ticket is valueless in anything but a ham-oriented position.  However, as others say, you may find hams in jobs in places you would like to work, and that kind of networking can help you get in there.  That is, though, because you "know someone" not  because you have an Extra (or any other class) ham ticket.  You can also network among non-hams, and you should.  If you enjoyed the line of work you have been doing, you may want to concentrate on that line elsewhere?? Even if it means relocation.  

Good luck.  

73
Ed
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W5HTW
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2003, 05:38:15 PM »

As an added!!

The "already passed my 20 WPM test" is something I should have commented on.  There are almost no places today to work that require CW.  Even most of the military doesn't.  

But there are two.  NSA and CIA.  I was the later.  And the FBI may use it some, or may require it for backup.  Check the websites for those organizations.  There is an outfit in McLean, Virginia that contracts to the government, and hires Morse operators (even today!) for remote assignments.  But the qualifications are far more than a ham license these days, though that is what put me there in the mid sixties, just a General ticket back then.  You would find minimum Morse capabilities at 15 WPM solid copy, but extensive qualifications otherwise are listed today.  And extensive travel, overseas, is a part of it.  Also, for most of them, it is not a "right now" situation, as background checks can literally take a year or longer.  

Not many places to use the CW skills except on the ham bands!  "Dem days is gone ferever!"  

73
Ed
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N6AJR
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2003, 01:54:04 AM »

I don't know if you are too old but I think the military may still have use for "dittybops' , what we used to call the guys that did code fo a living.. 3 months of school and of to intercept the bad guys code..  good luck.. 73  tom N6AJR
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W3JJH
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2003, 09:15:34 AM »

I'll add a general amen to the replies above.  I haven't had to use my old First Class Radiotelephone Operator License (or its successor) for employment since the '70s.  My ham ticket has been good for networking; other hams tell me about job openings.  That's important in my case because I work as a consultant.

I haven't used my CW skills at work since I left active duty in 1972.

However, if you do have a GROL, make sure it shows up on your resume.  Even if it is not required for a job, an out-of-the-ordinary qualification (CDL, EMT certification, GROL, etc.) on a resume can be the thing which sets one apart from the hundreds of others in the pile.

A ham license is often only noticed by another ham.  A subtle way of announcing your license is to have your call sign in your email address.  If you're an ARRL member, get a callsign@arrl.net account.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2003, 01:07:11 PM »

My experience is different from W5HTW's.

Ham radio has been a way in the door for me at literally every single job I've ever held, from my very first job at age 14 working in an electronics store (which happened to sell ham equipment!) to presently.

The store never would have hired me at age 14 with zero experience and a one-day old working permit if I hadn't explained to the store manager, "But, I'm a ham.  Here's my Advanced ticket.  I know my way around this stuff..."  That clinched it.

I worked at the store selling ham gear and also resistors, tubes, capacitors and alligator clips (and everything else the store sold), when one day a ham brought in a piece of gear to "trade in" on a new item.  Our store did accept trade-ins, provided they worked.  This particular item, a Hammarlund receiver, did not work and the manager was about to turn the guy away when I said, "Can I take that back to the bench for a minute?  Let me just open it up."  

They both agreed, and five minutes later, the receiver worked fine.  It had a shorted filter capacitor that caused it to blow a fuse.  We had the same cap in stock, and I simply pulled one (a Mallory 250V electrolytic) and replaced the baddie.  

Now, we accepted the trade-in and everyone was happy.  That also earned me my very first raise, after working only about two weeks.  From $1.50 an hour, to $1.65 an hour!  But, I was now above the minimum wage, and it was a 10% raise -- after two weeks.  For a 14 year-old, it seemed like a lot.

That job led to every other position I've ever held, over the last 37 years or so.  I've never found it a bad thing to tell a prospective employer that I'm a ham, an active and published one, with numerous awards and achievements in the hobby.

Even though I'm in a completely unrelated business now, it helped here, too....the CEO, who interviewed me, isn't a ham, but his brother is.  And he is very interested.  What a world.

WB2WIK/6



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N5CTI
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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2003, 01:18:45 PM »

I'm retired from the Navy, and worked alongside the dittychasers throughout my career (same rating, different branch). According to my contacts, CW skill is no longer in demand, at least in that field within the Navy.

73,

Boyd / N5CTI
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KE4MOB
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2003, 01:34:26 PM »

Thanks for all the replys.  I understand that CW isn't used anymore in the commercial fields, and I really didn't expect to use it even if I got my commercial license.  I just figured that instead of the GROL, which is code free, might as well go for the 2nd Class papers and use the passed code test to my advantage.

Steve and Ed, I can see where both of you are coming from--perception is everything.  Thanks for the input!!

Steve, KE4MOB  

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W5HTW
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2003, 04:03:28 PM »

I'm not sure how it is viewed today, but the 2nd R/T ticket was "less of a license" than the 2nd Phone.  And with the 2nd phone you could take the 1st phone.  But with the 2nd telegraph, you had to actually serve in that capacity for some period of time, may have been two years, before you could take the first telegraph.  And even then, I had the impression the first telegraph was  not as respected as the first phone.  I'm not sure about the difficulty of the tests compared, but I knew two or three guys who worked on tankers, held first telegraph tickets, and decided to get first phone tickets to allow themselves more latitude when they left the boat.  Their opinion was the first telegraph was not as valuable as the first phone.  

I wasn't aware there were still 'intercept' ops in the military!  ASA went defunct years and years ago, as did the Air Force Security Services, so I heard.  Maybe the  Navy still does Morse intercept.  I think DEA might do a dab of it, too.  Mostly it is NSA these days.  

Career changes brought about by layoffs, downsizing, etc., are not pleasant, but sometimes they can be the very incentive one needs to change to a more suitable direction, for the long term.  Look at it as an opportunity - Yeah, I know -- an opportunity to starve, to lose the house and the car and the wife and the dog - but really, it can be.  And if you have some marketable skill, don't overlook the possibility of self-employment.  Now, before the layoff comes, might be a good time to do some sort of start-up??  

As before, good luck!
ed
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N3IZN
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2003, 06:33:36 PM »

It has been my experience that an amateur license is either ignored or taken to the extremes, both good and bad. So I would suggest letting the potential employee bring it up and be ready to talk it up or play it down. I like the suggestion of using an email with your call sign on it as a subtle hint. I’m going to add that to my resume, because I can see the direction of my company. Networking is the way to go, all of the best jobs I’ve had was do to referrals.

Goodluck.
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KE6PKJ
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« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2003, 11:28:11 PM »

All I can say is when I was hiring for my company a few years ago I placed ads in all the ham shops here in LA. I was looking for hams that liked to tinker and work with their hands. We needed people that knew RF and could problem solve as engineers and technicians. An engineering degree was not a prerequisite, just the creative thinking process. Not one person responded. The people we wound up hiring were computer geeks and tv repairmen that had to be trained to think RF microwave. The 2 other guy's that were hired had GROL's and no ham experience. We had to let those 2 go because although they could could read and pass tests well, they just couldn't think outside of the box. I would have always hired the innovative ham over the rigid thinker, if only I could just find them back then.  
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2003, 07:34:53 PM »

Here are a couple places that I know a GROL can be an advantage:
-Most airlines consider a GROL equivalent to either an Airframe or Powerlant license and give an hourly pay bonus to their line technicians.
-I have a buddy who is an electrician at a cement plant.  He worked into it from the radio field using his GROL.  This gave him an hourly pay premium and advantage over the fellows with no qualifications.

Regarding ham licenses and GROL.  I got my current job in communications and electronics by emphasizing my Extra ticket and practical radio and antenna experience.  My fellow employees are mostly ex military trained technicians.  None have a GROL.  
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