Author Topic: Careers for people who enjoy 'hands on' work  (Read 1381 times)

Vicster

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Careers for people who enjoy 'hands on' work
« on: November 20, 2018, 04:37:21 AM »
Hello

I've done a few DIY projects recently, very small, but they give me such enjoyment and satisfaction I am using it as a clue to a possible career route.

I'm 40 and done lots of desk jobs which I've hated.....I'd really like a more hands on career.

I have a degree in Law, but sadly no Physics A'levels or anything like that.  I used to be a web developer and did enjoy the problem solving technical side of that but didn't enjoy the sitting at a desk all day. 

Any engineering technician / trainee roles or jobs that people have experience in and enjoy?

I'm totally new to researching this area so would appreciate any advice, thoughts.

Thanks in advance


Maenad

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Re: Careers for people who enjoy 'hands on' work
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2018, 05:07:05 AM »
Check out the Entrepreneurship subforum here, see what people have as their "side gigs". You may be able to start one of those up and build up a customer base to the point that you can quit your desk job. Or you may find out that doing it as a job strips away the enjoyment*, and you find a great hobby that also nets you a little income!

Are there schools near you that teach the trades (hands-on jobs)? We have them in the US, and you can take intro classes on a number of topics to see if you're interested. There's also what's known as the "maker community", where people have communal workspaces for more expensive hobbies (requiring large expensive equipment), and you can take classes on some different options there. I'm guessing if you start Googling you can find online fora and some local groups.

*This is a real risk, which is why I'm recommending easing into it with a second job.

Jon Bon

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Re: Careers for people who enjoy 'hands on' work
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2018, 06:51:59 AM »
+1000 Second job.

Start small, maybe put it out there to be a friend handyman for all your mates. Do it for free or nearly so. It would be a good way to build your skills and also get your name out there a little bit. First it would be friends for free, then acquaintances etc. At that point you could turn it into a real business if you really wanted.

I kind of have the same experience as you, a bachelors and masters degree, fancy shiny expensive degrees just to find out I really want to be a construction worker! Not for someone else though, which is what I wanted to bring up. Doing electrical 40 hours a week for a company where I am just another employee would suck all the fun out of it, so defiantly think about starting your own firm.

That being said, I would want to plug real estate here, you are in the UK.  I cant speak to anything over there, but I can speak to experiences. Having a rental house you have to work on from time to time is a great way to learn. Plus it does not have to be 'perfect' just functional in the things you are working on. Also this is a low risk way to get your feet week and have high certainty of some return (rent).

The last thing is say you have a handyman business or rental company on the side going. Its a nice little income say maybe 1/4 of what you make now with 1/8 the work. Having this makes your day job so much more bearable. Because you know in the back of your mind you could walk out of there and be just fine. You no longer have the fear of getting laid off, not doing a good enough job etc. On some level you would not mind getting laid off at all! Building a business is some of the best work you can do IMO.

YMMV good luck and keep us posted!


Ecky

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Re: Careers for people who enjoy 'hands on' work
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2018, 06:53:59 AM »
I'm installing alarm and surveillance systems right now and like it pretty well. The pay is good compared with more white collar work available with my education and age. It's a mix of software and hardware: running cables, cutting holes in doors and ceilings for sensors, getting up on ladders to put cameras in, but also figuring out how to get a series of relays to do what you want them to do, in both software and hardware. For instance, how does one set up a system of doors to fail "safe" in a power outage, lock from the outside but allow egress when fire alarms go off (which may or may not be a separate system), allow access to various groups (with cards or fobs) in based on a schedule while letting everyone out? It's not rocket science, but neither is it work for dummies.

Lanthiriel

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Re: Careers for people who enjoy 'hands on' work
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2018, 01:59:18 PM »
Since you asked specifically for engineering technician jobs, I can recommend materials testing. The licenses are easy and cheap to acquire, and the work pays pretty well. You basically stand around at a job site until someone needs you to test some pavement or aggregate. Once you have a few years of experience, you can move up to special inspections, which pays even better. The downside of this job is that you have to be available to be on job sites wherever those may be. My husband did this in Alaska and got to travel to some pretty cool places.

Jon Bon

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Re: Careers for people who enjoy 'hands on' work
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2018, 02:34:37 PM »
Since you asked specifically for engineering technician jobs, I can recommend materials testing. The licenses are easy and cheap to acquire, and the work pays pretty well. You basically stand around at a job site until someone needs you to test some pavement or aggregate. Once you have a few years of experience, you can move up to special inspections, which pays even better. The downside of this job is that you have to be available to be on job sites wherever those may be. My husband did this in Alaska and got to travel to some pretty cool places.

I like job sites....

Tell me more!


Vicster

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Re: Careers for people who enjoy 'hands on' work
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2018, 05:20:25 AM »
thanks for all the feedback, really interesting.  I take your point that going full time could turn a hobby into something unenjoyable (have had experience of that when I did outdoor education - I just enjoy hill walking for myself as a hobby!)

I was also thinking about doing something like a trainee CAD job as a way of getting into technical fields, I know it's not hands-on and is another desk job, but if anyone has had experience of that I would be interested.

Thanks once again

Lanthiriel

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Re: Careers for people who enjoy 'hands on' work
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2018, 10:05:28 AM »
Since you asked specifically for engineering technician jobs, I can recommend materials testing. The licenses are easy and cheap to acquire, and the work pays pretty well. You basically stand around at a job site until someone needs you to test some pavement or aggregate. Once you have a few years of experience, you can move up to special inspections, which pays even better. The downside of this job is that you have to be available to be on job sites wherever those may be. My husband did this in Alaska and got to travel to some pretty cool places.

I like job sites....

Tell me more!

What do you want to know? The exact licenses vary by state, but most places will train you. Pay is usually around $20/hr if they have to pay for your certs, but that definitely goes up significantly as you gain experience and the job usually requires a lot of hours (hello overtime!). I would just search "materials testing" on a job search engine like Indeed. Usually you'll be working for firms who do civil or geotechnical engineering. Sometimes construction contractors have these folks, as well as individual agencies such as Departments of Transportation. Here are some options that came up in my area:

https://www.indeed.com/viewjob?jk=f9a2ff1eb23dcb3c&q=materials+testing&l=oregon&tk=1csrjarmrbhl8802&from=web&vjs=3
https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=materials%20testing&l=oregon&start=10&vjk=c8221d238f7045b8

This can lead you into buildings inspections which is where the real money is.

tungsten

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Re: Careers for people who enjoy 'hands on' work
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2018, 05:32:19 PM »
Yes, I have one of these jobs.  I went to pharmacy school, but always liked to use my hands and work on mechanical projects, and never loved chemistry.  I ended up learning welding and metalworking and then later CNC machining and CAD (on my own) and now work on bizarre experimental aerospace projects for a big company, and make far more than I ever would as a pharmacist or chemist.  Learning these new skills is much easier when you live in a place with a strong "maker" culture where people love to tinker.