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Almost qualified, but low on confidence

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Hi guys, new here, I'm waiting for my AM2 result so almost at the stage of being fully qualified, but I'm lacking confidence in myself.. Looking for some honest opinions based on my post, I can handle criticism so please don't hold back!

In my wisdom I came into the trade late 5 years ago at the age of 37. Previously a tree surgeon, I came into the trade hoping for more mental stimulation and something I could diversify with in future that's less physically demanding as I get older. Its been a costly transition taking a massive pay cut as well as cost of courses, but I was looking at the bigger picture of opportunities later down the line

I have 2365 L3, NVQ, 18th edition, 2391-52 and awaiting AM2 result. AM2 aside, I passed everything without any issue, theory-wise I'm quietly confident that I may even have a better understanding than most of my colleagues. Practically I'm just OK.. I'm quite slow compared to others, I'm careful to make sure I'm doing things right, which slows me down, but time constraints make me work faster which then results in scrappy, poorly presented work. For example, lets say the average electrician will do a basic board change in 4 hours, everything neatly dressed in - if I did it in 4 hours it would look like a dogs dinner, to do it neatly would take me 6+ hours.

As for the AM2, I have definitely failed because I ran out of time and couldn't finish the S-Plan heating system, the other boys on the exam had finished with plenty of time to spare. On the other hand, I finished the fault finding with almost an hour to spare, plenty of time spare on the testing too, whereas the others seemed to struggle a bit. I don't want to be too confident, but I don't expect to have failed the fault find or testing - I'm questioning everything on the install though.

I have 5 years experience now, I can't knock my colleagues but there's been some uncomfortable times when I can see they're not impressed with my work. The downside to coming into the trade later in life seems to be that it's not economically viable to spend time teaching someone who's paid more than an apprentice, I've therefore had to teach my self many things and just try to mimic others. It can be quite disheartening as a grown---- 42 year old when most on the firm are considerably younger.

I have a family to provide for, and questioning if I should just go back to tree work, for my own self-confidence and finances. This isn't a "poor me" post, I took the decision to come into this trade and I take full responsibility for it. I kept myself positive throughout these 5 years by trusting I would improve to a certain level, I'm losing faith that day will come. My only hope would be finding a niche within the trade that suits my ability.

For context, most of my experience is in commercial, with some domestic. I would also say that on the whole I like the job, but I need to earn decent money, and I'm not worth it until I can get quicker.

If anyone has made it this far.. what do you reckon?
 
If there was an easy route, we would all be taking it.

42, or 22… it doesn’t really matter when you start up….. but I’m 50 soon, and the physical stuff is catching up… I’m no longer slim enough to fit under floors that would have been easy 30 years ago!

Getting faster only comes with experience…. You may be slower than others, but they might not have done everything right.

Workplace banter is a necessary evil in the trade, I’m afraid…. Wherever you work….. but if you were really slow and bad at your job, your boss would be having a word… not your colleagues that are on the same level as you.



Have you spoken to your boss about keeping you on after you qualify?
 
If there was an easy route, we would all be taking it.

42, or 22… it doesn’t really matter when you start up….. but I’m 50 soon, and the physical stuff is catching up… I’m no longer slim enough to fit under floors that would have been easy 30 years ago!

Getting faster only comes with experience…. You may be slower than others, but they might not have done everything right.

Workplace banter is a necessary evil in the trade, I’m afraid…. Wherever you work….. but if you were really slow and bad at your job, your boss would be having a word… not your colleagues that are on the same level as you.



Have you spoken to your boss about keeping you on after you qualify?
If there was an easy route, we would all be taking it.

42, or 22… it doesn’t really matter when you start up….. but I’m 50 soon, and the physical stuff is catching up… I’m no longer slim enough to fit under floors that would have been easy 30 years ago!

Getting faster only comes with experience…. You may be slower than others, but they might not have done everything right.

Workplace banter is a necessary evil in the trade, I’m afraid…. Wherever you work….. but if you were really slow and bad at your job, your boss would be having a word… not your colleagues that are on the same level as you.



Have you spoken to your boss about keeping you on after you qualify?
Thanks mate, yeah I’ve spoken with him, he wants to keep me but a new rate of pay hasn’t been discussed, if it’s even on the cards.

He seems to like me but I question if it’s because I’m cheap labour for him! I understand he can only pay a rate that’s financially viable to the business, AM2 or not my ability won’t drastically improve in that sense.

He likes to tell me that one day I’ll be earning “x” amount, I don’t think I’m quite worth it yet though.

I completely get that speed comes with experience, but after 5 years I wonder if it’s the old saying that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks! It’s strange to me that I have more experience on installs than anything else, but testing & fault finding seem much clearer in mind.
 
One of the recurring problems of getting into the industry these days is getting hands on experience shadowing someone who can mentor you and guide you when you hit a problem

Getting faster will come with experience and developing a process for the task in hand and looking back at what you could have done better or cut out

Having the right tools can make a lot tasks easier and quicker but obviously has a cost implication

As for the AM2, I have definitely failed because I ran out of time and couldn't finish the S-Plan heating system, the other boys on the exam had finished with plenty of time to spare.
In a wholesalers last year a property developer at the counter asked me about wiring s plan heating which I said was quite easy the reason he was asking was the sparks he had on a site didn't know how and wouldn't even attempt it. At least you are having a go and heating controls are certainly not everyones cup of tea

I started out 48 years ago as a 16 year old apprentice and have seen a lot of change throughout that time some good and some bad, I remember the 1980's skillcentres that retrained the unemployed as electricians, plumbers and other trades some were never going to cut it in the real world on the tools but with some nurturing some went on to be very competent electricians within a few years. Within the trade there are a lot of operatives who are more skilled in some areas than others from a management perspective having managed a number of contracting electricians there were some who were better suited to fault finding and others at installation very few were good at both

As a tree surgeon you obviously have experience of working at height so you could possibly deviate into a route I took at 37 years of age at the time I was self employed with a business partner and around 8 electricians and a couple of apprentices working for me, I was offered some work that ultimately required me and a number of the lads working for me getting mast and rope access trained to install data comms antennas which also then moved into electrical work so the niche you are looking for may be a combination of your current and past work experience

The biggest confidence issue I have had to overcome was when the company I was working for went bust I had served my time with them and was kept on afterwards I was 24 at the time and was offered the opportunity of a partnership with one of my old bosses at the time to take on some of the contracts the old company had at the time within a few weeks we were taking on electricians my business partner was 8 years older than me so had a bit more age and experience whereas I was just 4 years out of my time and while I had a broad range of experience I realised I might be at a disadvantage if we were employing older electricians a few years later I found my initial fears were unfounded and I could hold my own

So keep your chin up and build your confidence so you can hold your own with your colleagues and peers
 
Speed does come with experience, but I have found that everyone works at their own pace!
It's one of those things that the more times you do something the faster it becomes and you will find some quicker way of doing it through watching others and sometimes YouTube too!

Confidence is also something that will come with time, when I started I lacked it and would second question everything I installed, double or treble check it.
I still find myself calculating things at least twice.
The trick is to come across confident to the customer even if you don't feel it!

Don't throw in the towel, it sounds like you have done really well so far and I'm sure in time that your speed and confidence will grow!

It is an excellent trade to be in with plenty of areas to diversify into if you want/like the challenge!
I actually prefer the stuff that makes my brain work, as a lot of things can be very repetitive especially after 27 years!
 
It sounds as though you are good at the parts that many find harder, and a little slower than some at other things. I wouldn't let it bother you. You will soon find things on the installation side that you have a natural knack for. One of my local competitors can throw up galv conduit as though its dot and dab. Takes me hours!
I'd rather a neat 6 hour board than a mess, and I quote a day rate for a domestic board change anyway.

@UNG beat me to it - there are a number of jobs where the sparks will simply say "I'm not going up there" and put the problem back on the potential client. With your prior experience you may be able to offer solutions and take on the task of sorting out access, or even just pull out a rope and a catapult, tie a Blake's hitch and get on with it ;-)

I'd finish your AM2 and see what the next few months brings; you might find yourself running a PV / renewables business in a year's time!
 
A lot of my comments will be repeats of others;

Hi guys, new here, I'm waiting for my AM2 result so almost at the stage of being fully qualified, but I'm lacking confidence in myself.. Looking for some honest opinions based on my post, I can handle criticism so please don't hold back!

In my wisdom I came into the trade late 5 years ago at the age of 37. Previously a tree surgeon, I came into the trade hoping for more mental stimulation and something I could diversify with in future that's less physically demanding as I get older. Its been a costly transition taking a massive pay cut as well as cost of courses, but I was looking at the bigger picture of opportunities later down the line

I have 2365 L3, NVQ, 18th edition, 2391-52 and awaiting AM2 result. AM2 aside, I passed everything without any issue, theory-wise I'm quietly confident that I may even have a better understanding than most of my colleagues. Practically I'm just OK.. I'm quite slow compared to others, I'm careful to make sure I'm doing things right, which slows me down, but time constraints make me work faster which then results in scrappy, poorly presented work. For example, lets say the average electrician will do a basic board change in 4 hours, everything neatly dressed in - if I did it in 4 hours it would look like a dogs dinner, to do it neatly would take me 6+ hours.
You're lucky. It's easier to become respectably quick at the job than it is to have to go back and fill gaps in your theory knowledge. Reading between the lines it sounds like a confidence issue more than anything else, you're doubting yourself and you're probably double and triple questioning and checking everything you're doing.
As for the AM2, I have definitely failed because I ran out of time and couldn't finish the S-Plan heating system, the other boys on the exam had finished with plenty of time to spare. On the other hand, I finished the fault finding with almost an hour to spare, plenty of time spare on the testing too, whereas the others seemed to struggle a bit. I don't want to be too confident, but I don't expect to have failed the fault find or testing - I'm questioning everything on the install though.

I have 5 years experience now, I can't knock my colleagues but there's been some uncomfortable times when I can see they're not impressed with my work. The downside to coming into the trade later in life seems to be that it's not economically viable to spend time teaching someone who's paid more than an apprentice, I've therefore had to teach my self many things and just try to mimic others. It can be quite disheartening as a grown---- 42 year old when most on the firm are considerably younger.
You're learning, of course there's gonna by times when your peers aren't impressed. I'm sure there's plenty of times they were impressed as well otherwise you wouldn't have made it this far. I suspect you're just dwelling on the bad times which again for me at least points to a confidence problem.
I have a family to provide for, and questioning if I should just go back to tree work, for my own self-confidence and finances. This isn't a "poor me" post, I took the decision to come into this trade and I take full responsibility for it. I kept myself positive throughout these 5 years by trusting I would improve to a certain level, I'm losing faith that day will come. My only hope would be finding a niche within the trade that suits my ability.

For context, most of my experience is in commercial, with some domestic. I would also say that on the whole I like the job, but I need to earn decent money, and I'm not worth it until I can get quicker.

If anyone has made it this far.. what do you reckon?
Anyone that makes a big life choice has doubts about it along the way. You made your choice so it's you owe it to yourself to see it through. If it was the wrong choice I strongly suspect you would have known long before now.

And yes, I'm afraid your posts do come across as being 'poor me'. If you fail the AM2 you can always resit. Second time around it will hold no mystery, just practice your weak areas and sort out your confidence issue... or sort out your confidence issue and I think a lot of your weak areas will be gone.
Thanks mate, yeah I’ve spoken with him, he wants to keep me but a new rate of pay hasn’t been discussed, if it’s even on the cards.

He seems to like me but I question if it’s because I’m cheap labour for him! I understand he can only pay a rate that’s financially viable to the business, AM2 or not my ability won’t drastically improve in that sense.

He likes to tell me that one day I’ll be earning “x” amount, I don’t think I’m quite worth it yet though.

I completely get that speed comes with experience, but after 5 years I wonder if it’s the old saying that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks! It’s strange to me that I have more experience on installs than anything else, but testing & fault finding seem much clearer in mind.
At this stage more important than what you think you're worth is what your employer thinks you're worth. Usually it's the opposit way around where the employee likes to say that one day he'll be worth "x" amount and the employer who thinks he's not quite worth it.

Speed does come with experience but speed also comes with confidence. If your confidence is only going to improve when you get faster and you're only going to get faster when your confidence improves then it ain't going to work. Take a long hard look at yourself, make a list of things you do well, times you excelled and get motivated..
 
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Taking onboard your issues and everyone’s comments,
You have like all of us things that you are good at and things that you can do but are not your ideal task.

You have by the sounds of it, a good experience and confidence in
Fault finding
Working at height
Attention to detail
Resisting lowering your standards to gat a job done faster.

They are all positive things, the world of Comercial installs is often, get it done as fast as we can, because the quote is xx and we need to be on the next job by Thursday.

Keep doing what you’re doing, don’t lower your standards, moving forward you might find working for a different company that wants your skill set to be a better alternative.
Have you considered the following?

Cctv
Outdoor/ stadium lighting
Crane service/repair
Wind turbine electrical engineering

I am sure there are others but you have a skill set, find the niche that suits them rather than try to beat your current colleagues in the race to the bottom of who can install this fastest and make the boss the most amount of money.
 
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I really dont believe your age is even remotely an issue, over 60 for me now and quite honestly i am not as fast at a particular task BUT i make less errors now that would require duplicate work. So overall i am probably as fast as i was 10 years ago. I work at a slower pace, have frequent breaks and plan for virtually all activities so the job runs smoothly.
when i sat the 2391, i was on a dual back to back training board with the other electrician. He was going at it hammer and tongs and shaking the board, i plodded at my pace and just finished in time (it was close) - sadly the other electrician failed as although he had done the practical at a fast pace, he in-correctly filled in the cert (in a bad way) and hence failed. I felt bad for him but the point is speed is only one element - planning, no errors and works first time, in the long run, is faster and better overall.
Hope this makes sense
 
I think it is fair to say that very few electricians will ever work at a similar pace and some are better skilled on some things than others the art of the management is understanding that and deploying staff in a way best suited to maximising their staff skillsets

In the past I have rocked up to a fault to be greeted by a customer telling me I have 2 hours to get the power back on or he loses a £30k machine as the glue in it will set, yes it focuses the mind you doubt you can do it but with help and backup from the office sorting the parts I needed and getting them to site which was just over an hour when the parts landed I had everything prepped ready for the new switchfuse I completed the repair with 10 minutes to spare, there was no time to doubt myself or my ability the object was to try and hit the deadline set yes at times it looked like it was going to be extremely tight but it was very satisfying doing it

As a thought try and do a job and take out the the double checking and doubts try and work to an imaginary deadline unlike the job above and when complete critique it was it all correct and complete were there any bits missed and most of all did you complete it any quicker, easier and less stressfully. Being methodical is good being over methodical can just compound the stress and doubt and slow you down

I was always told as an apprentice you learn the job and once qualified and let loose on your own you really learn the job and from many years of experience since I qualified I look back now and think it is true within weeks of becoming qualified I felt a different level of responsibility and ability and I have been learning ever since
 
Thanks for all the replies!

It’s given some good for thought, and the realisation that I really need to get my head out my a**e and stop being negative.

I had given thought to rope access before, it sounds good especially as I have a preference to working outdoors even in the depth of winter. Street lighting could also be an option.

Also been thinking of asking around if any one man bands might take me on, just to work in a different environment, explore different avenues.
 
Reading my post above back now I apologise if I sounded harsh. You're obviously at a low point where things are getting on top of you and I wish you all the best and I really hope you stick it out and get motivated again. I'm sure your career change choice will pay off and you'll have a wide range of options to chose from. I've no doubt you'll find a very comfortable niche somewhere in the electrical industry with your present and previous skillset.
 
Reading my post above back now I apologise if I sounded harsh. You're obviously at a low point where things are getting on top of you and I wish you all the best and I really hope you stick it out and get motivated again. I'm sure your career change choice will pay off and you'll have a wide range of options to chose from. I've no doubt you'll find a very comfortable niche somewhere in the electrical industry with your present and previous skillset.
Wasn’t harsh at all mate, I asked for honest opinions and I expected to get ripped, which didn’t actually happen, (not yet at least!)

Thanks for your input on both posts 👍
 
I'm older than you and very close to the same stage, having retrained through an apprenticeship. There are days when I wonder if I know less now than I did at the start and I definitely have less confidence now than before. For me a huge part of the problem is constantly working on different jobs and rarely seeing anything longer than a 2 day job through from start to finish.

Conversely, when I do my own work after hours there are none of these problems. Confidence is just fine and I'll form a clear plan to work to (and around when problems arise). Seems a bit strange that I feel as though things are going backwards in the day job, yet progressing very well outside of it.
 
I'm older than you and very close to the same stage, having retrained through an apprenticeship. There are days when I wonder if I know less now than I did at the start and I definitely have less confidence now than before. For me a huge part of the problem is constantly working on different jobs and rarely seeing anything longer than a 2 day job through from start to finish.

Conversely, when I do my own work after hours there are none of these problems. Confidence is just fine and I'll form a clear plan to work to (and around when problems arise). Seems a bit strange that I feel as though things are going backwards in the day job, yet progressing very well outside of it.
That’s interesting, I’ve had a similar experience. I’ve been on one job from start to finish in my time so far and that only happened because I kept asking the boss.. I needed it for evidence on my NVQ.

More often that not on a 6 week project I’ll be diverted to call outs at last minute for an accumulative 3 of those weeks.

What makes you wonder if you know less now? Or is it just a figure of speech? I went through a rough 2 or so months of non stop pat testing which made me lose some brain cells!
 

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