Nearing HS graduation. Now what to do?

WillieWonka1850

LawnSite Fanatic
Yep. Less than 3 months from now I'll be walking that stage and getting my High School diploma. But now one of my biggest concerns is what to after I'm finally out. I mean, I know what I want to do, be an Operator, but how to go about becoming one is what I'm unsure of. I really just have two options that I can think of, go to a college/tech school and take an Operator course, or I can apply for an apprenticeship at the Operator Engineers Union (about an hour drive from here). I like the sound of the apprenticeship as I'd be getting trained and making money, but I've heard its a really long wait, if you even get in.

I did take a Heavy Equipment Operations course as part of school program last year (2010-2011 school year) so that would look good on a resume.
 

bobcat_ron

LawnSite Fanatic
Take a vacation. You spent 12 long years taking orders from people and being told what to do and how to do it. Now you need a vacation where you make the rules.


Screw education.

Take a long vacation and come back on December 13th, 2012. Then, make you life plans for a courier.
Posted via Mobile Device
 

Scag48

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Marysville, WA
I can speak to the Operating Engineers apprenticeship. I got in 4 years ago, best move I ever made. I'm just about done, I will journey out this month. Been on dirt jobs running hoe, loader, dozer, checked grade, oiled on cranes, belled 300,000 pound lifts, done a tiny bit of wrenching, run lots of forklift these days, now I'm driving truck a couple hours a day hauling gear and supplies from the yard to the job, etc.. Not a bad way to go but like you say, it's tough to get in. If you do get in, it can be as awesome as you want it to be. My first summer, which was '08, I worked about 2 months for a big dirt outfit, they ran out of work for me and I had to find other work for about 8 months until June of '09 but I've been off to the races since then. Being willing to learn new things will keep a guy busy. When I started out, I wanted nothing to do with cranes and didn't really want a CDL. Turns out, oiling on a crane and driving truck is making me a good living so I've decided I'll get any certification that'll keep me busy. It's not a good situation with work right now, it's slowly coming back but it's going to take some time. My best advice is to do what you can to get on somewhere and fight like hell to keep your spot but be safe about it.

About vacation, not a bad plan but I've never taken a serious vacation in my life and I don't see a reason to start. You're young, work your brains out and eventually you'll retire, sooner rather than later. If you want to work in this business, you get vacation but rarely is it on your terms. Usually management determines the beginning of your unemployment but when you return to work is completely up to you. Save a pile of money then when a layoff comes around, you can take your vacation.
 
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OhioMowerGuy

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
N.E ohio
If you go the union apprenticeship be prepared to drive 3 hrs one way to work for 50% of journeymans wage, I tried that route and its not for me.
 

ksss

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Rigby, Idaho
Join the Navy Seabees or the Army/Marine Corps and learn to run equipment there if you like. You can always join a Union or go to work for the local excavation company. Your young and just getting started the decisions you make in the next several years will certainly shape your future. Take advantage of the opportunity to really go do something that you look back on and be proud of for the rest of your life. When you get out (successfully) you have access to many benefits such as the GI bill which helps pay you to attend apprentice training as well as typical type college. Lets you get into a home with no money down and many other tangible and intangible benefits. More importantly however it gives you a chance to pay forward a debt that every American is tasked with but not many take seriously, and that is service to your Country. Its a Win/Win for you.
 

shooterm

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Midwest
Join the Navy Seabees or the Army/Marine Corps and learn to run equipment there if you like. You can always join a Union or go to work for the local excavation company. Your young and just getting started the decisions you make in the next several years will certainly shape your future. Take advantage of the opportunity to really go do something that you look back on and be proud of for the rest of your life. When you get out (successfully) you have access to many benefits such as the GI bill which helps pay you to attend apprentice training as well as typical type college. Lets you get into a home with no money down and many other tangible and intangible benefits. More importantly however it gives you a chance to pay forward a debt that every American is tasked with but not many take seriously, and that is service to your Country. Its a Win/Win for you.
This is sound advice. I was a Marine Corp operator and got good start on operating from them. My experience with military and construction would be Seabees did alot of sitework and traveling. The Marine Corp did dirt work on a larger scale with less travel.
 

Cummins343

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Kansas
U.S. ARMY Combat Engineers.
 

Scag48

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Marysville, WA
If you go the union apprenticeship be prepared to drive 3 hrs one way to work for 50% of journeymans wage, I tried that route and its not for me.
Travel is very much a part of the gig until you've built some skill and can rely on them to find you a job a little closer to home. I've been somewhat lucky, furthest I've had to travel was 100 miles round trip but I did it for 18 months. I started that job on base apprentice scale and made it work.

Not wanting to work for half scale? Give me a break. Don't know what full scale is out there, but out here it's $31.XX/hr. I started at $21.XX plus benefits, not a bad deal at the ripe age of 21. If you can't live on anything less than $20/hr. until you're in your mid 20's, something is wrong. Most apprenticeships pay out raise increases as you go along, for us it's 5% every 1,000 on the job hours worked.

I almost joined the Navy and went the Seabees route right out of highschool. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably go down that road, you can always get into the Operating Engineers or whatever else down the road you'll just be a little older.
 
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OhioMowerGuy

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
N.E ohio
Travel is very much a part of the gig until you've built some skill and can rely on them to find you a job a little closer to home. I've been somewhat lucky, furthest I've had to travel was 100 miles round trip but I did it for 18 months. I started that job on base apprentice scale and made it work.

Not wanting to work for half scale? Give me a break. Don't know what full scale is out there, but out here it's $31.XX/hr. I started at $21.XX plus benefits, not a bad deal at the ripe age of 21. If you can't live on anything less than $20/hr. until you're in your mid 20's, something is wrong. Most apprenticeships pay out raise increases as you go along, for us it's 5% every 1,000 on the job hours worked.

I almost joined the Navy and went the Seabees route right out of highschool. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably go down that road, you can always get into the Operating Engineers or whatever else down the road you'll just be a little older.
Im not driving 150 miles one way for 15 an hour to drive a forklift, journeymans wage here is just under $30. This was in 08 when diesel was near $5 gallon. So thats $100 a day in diesel when im making $150 a day minus taxes and dues. So why the hell would I have taken that job??. I would have profited more per day working at mcdonalds. Im glad I didnt quit my business that year. I also didnt believe in the rule where you couldnt go find your own work. I sure as hell was trying. It also sucks working those one day jobs they send your way. I also dont like how they discriminate for jobs.. quotas for women and minorities on jobs. Im also glad I didnt have a family to support then. Join the Seabees or something for a few years, ive been to afghanistan, operators have a pretty good life overseas.
 

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