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Jobs available?
4

Jobs available?

Jobs available?

(OP)
Hi guys, I'm the spawn of sprinklerdesigner2's website and help from almost a year ago, just now moving out of state to attend classes to get the 18 month 'work experience' credit for NICET exams/cert. I'm just curious because in February sprinklerdesigner2 updated his website saying designers were getting laid off in some places, is this still happening? is it getting worse? would any layout techs recommend against this career path at this time?

I'm still going for it unless it's just a train-wreck right now, in which case I'd go for a four year engineering degree instead.

RE: Jobs available?

Things are not great at the moment but this time will pass like all others.

Its a great field to be in and there is still some opportunity if you keep your ear to the ground.  Usually if a good designer is laid off then things are really bad for the company.  Without us nothing happens (same for fitters, but there are many fitters for each designer).  The real benefit to this career track is to be an RME which you can get with a Level III, without which most states won't grant a license.  You can use that education to get some experience credit which I highly recommend to get your Level III as soon as possible.

A four year engineering degree is also a good option.  

I'd highly recommend getting an engineering technology associates in a related field to give you a better grasp of the theory to what you're doing.  A four year degree would be better still.  There are many ins and outs to this field and after 5 years I still find new things to learn about.  Speaking to people with 20+ years they still love it and continue to learn.

If you are committed which is sounds like you are; I'd advise you to pursue whatever you are passionate about.    

RE: Jobs available?

(OP)
Thanks for the reply NewtonFP,

So designers are some of the last employees to go as far as layoffs (if they're worth their salt)? Or are companies laying them off to save money and continuing business illegally or with some kind of risk?

I realize pay might be lowered especially for entry levels, and of course lay offs will happen to all levels when companies hit rock bottom due to the recession, but is it really a problem of many designers getting laid off because of the work not being needed, or simply because companies can't afford them.. because if it's just the latter, I'd feel a lot better as far as job security in the future even if it means decreased pay (since I can live on 6,000$ 2010 dollars easy by using my rents house, which they would obviously do in a bad economic situation), until I get the NICET III. The $6,000 figure comes from the cost for food/commute gas/used car maintenance/occasional clothing.
 

RE: Jobs available?

This is still a great field, and will continue to be.  From what I see, there are still more people leaving the industry than coming in.  This is mostly from retirement, not because they hate the industry.  I think that a good designer will always be able to find work.  You may experience slow downs in certain areas of the country, but if you are willing to move to find work, then you should be OK.

I would recommend the field to anyone with the aptitude for it.  If you can't visualize a 3D building from a 2D set of plans, then the industry is not for you.  

As with all sectors of the economy right now, competition will be tough for jobs.  However, I do believe it will improve and there will be steady work fire sprinkler system designers.

I do think the 4 yr degree would offer you more opportunities in the fire protection field.  However, it will just depend on what you like to do.

I have been in design for just over 21 years.  There are days when I feel burnt out and get tired of what I do.  But, I would say that is the exception rather than the rule.  I can honestly say that I don't hate starting work each day, and much more often than not, I really enjoy my work and the sense of accomplishment that goes along with it.  It is interesting taking people around the area and being able to point out all of the buildings and construction that I have been involved in.

So, after that long diatribe above, I would recommend you get the engineering degree and see what your options are in fire protection.   

Travis Mack
MFP Design, LLC
www.mfpdesign.com
 

RE: Jobs available?

In short and putting into context my experience, no.

I personally know no designers who have been laid off.  There are many fitters and other people who have been laid off however.

The flip side is I don't know if a large demand exists for new designers at this present time.  The first thing would be to get hired somewhere and get your feet wet.  Another difficulty is training or lack of training.  Most companies do not want to train people due to it being expensive and someone will poach your talent once you spend lots of money to teach them.  Most of the baby boomer generation got their training in large companies which no longer exist.  Most sprinkler companies are small, family owned affairs with 30 or so people.

In most jurisdictions if more than, say, five (this number varies) sprinklers are involved in an install or remodel someone needs to draft up plans to submit to an authority.

Again, personally, if you're a quick study which you probably are due to your asking these questions your starting wage will be low but you'll bump up quickly as you learn more and become more valuable.  When the economy picks up again you'll be in a very good position and likely be the target of poaching by other companies who need people.

This post is only my opinion and observations.

RE: Jobs available?

(OP)
Thanks for the help guys, don't worry I know it's just your opinions :)

Hmm so does anyone have any idea what nicet.org might be referring to when they say this:

(This is pertaining to Requirements for Certification in Automatic Sprinkler System Layout)
"A two-year or four-year degree in a relevant ABET/TAC-accredited engineering technology program will be accepted as equivalent to 18 months of work experience. (Credit will NOT be awarded for an engineering degree.) To receive credit for a degree, complete the Education Credit Addendum."

I know 3 community colleges that offer two-year degrees relevant to this (do you know of any more besides Parkland, DelTech, and Bates?) but no four-year programs. I'm mostly just curious haha, and realize they could have just put that in there in case four-year programs were to be created...

Any way I'm going for it still, hopefully a lot of techs will retire, everyone else will go for a business degree and laws will be passed that all residential homes need fire sprinklers and I'll be good to go :). If not there's always join the airforce and work on some advanced satellites for basically zip then later in the civilian world get paid high dollar to work in the ever increasing satellite-services industry (the whole damn first world is using cell-phones,gps,internet, it's just all going tech...)

RE: Jobs available?

I see job postings here i n NJ for designers every day. Level III Layout with 5 years of experience will get you 75K easy. Just look at Indeed.com/NJ and you will see. The main problem is those ignorant business owners that will rather pay a entry level designer with 2 years and NICET Level II 60K.
You need to land a company that really cares to have top notch  heavy hitters.

RE: Jobs available?

(OP)
hey that's good news.. I'll be a level II for 3 years before I'm a level III :)

RE: Jobs available?

It depends on what your personal goals are.  A 2-yr working as a designer would be more about CAD and hydraulic calcs, etc.

If on the other hand, in your long term goals you see yourself as an engineer, and capable shouldering all the burdens, leadership, and responsibility that carries, then that is your best option for long term pay.  Fire Protection Engineering pays the highest of all degrees, and I understand openings are plentiful and its a growing field.

Professional engineering covers alot more subjects, and therefore has a longer learning curve that can be exhausting, and requires alot of self reliance and diligence.  One good thing though, is nowdays engineers usually do their own CAD, and this gives a much needed mental break from the meetings, coordination, and high level thinking/designing decision making process.  
 

RE: Jobs available?

(OP)
Hmm, well to be honest that doesn't sound like something I could do everyday, I'm more of a techie type guy, rather than a wing-it leader guy :D, and pay isn't that important to me as long as it's over 30,000$ (not factoring future inflation) the most important thing to me is job security/availability and something somewhat mentally challenging.

Anyway thanks for the inside scoop pipesnpumps,

Does anyone know what other certifications besides NICET I II III IV there are that would be valuable to sprinkler layout techs? And how would one get them? Just curious.

Also what other boards pertaining to this subject are out there? I found the AFSA boards which don't have a very intuitive interface, are there any other communities for this kind of thing?

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