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Happy Canada Day everyone!

I've been lurking this board for a long time, but only posted a few times so I'll give you a quick refresher about me:

26 years old, no debt, 9k in savings (a grand each in TSFA, savings and RRSPs accounts though ING), earn ~40,000/yr (gross) as a carpenter's apprentice, finishing the apprenticeship in 8 months... so hopefully that figure will start to increase after that! :p Financial goal is to buy a house/condo/anything in the next couple years in this area (Victoria, BC). Personal goals are to be able to travel somewhere after finishing my apprenticeship (first vacation in 3 years!)

Here's the issue:
I love my job, and the people I work with. We have a small residential construction company of 4, I get to be involved in the day to day workings of the company and have been handed increasing responsibility as my skills have improved over the years. Every day feels like 'hanging out with the guys' rather then 'working for the man' and the flexibility, challenges, feeling of controlling one's own career and sense of accomplishment after finishing each project that come with working for such a small group is right up my alley.

The problem is my current wage. I am having a very tough time saving enough to accomplish my goals. Being frugal isn't a problem for me... I have a budget that I stick to, I don't have luxuries like cable, I own a small, 4 cyl work truck that is dirt cheap to operate and I do my own maintenance on, and I am a homebody so no crazy nights out drinking for me etc. The reality is I live in a pricey town and after I put what I can away for savings, pay my bills and set money aside for food and the essentials and the occasional tools for work, there's barely anything left.

I work overtime regularly to partially compensate for all this, but I feel like I could do better financially else where. Here in town, trades people who work at the naval dock yards or ship yards make more in the range of $30 - 45/hr as opposed to the $20-25 that someone in my position can make. Add to that their benefits plan, RRSP contributions, time and a half/double time for over time, paid time off etc, and it starts to look very appealing. What I don't like about working there is you are part of a big union and I can't STAND the thought of working under someone who is lazy and incompetent and never being able to get ahead of him simply because he was hired first. Also, the pace of work is much slower and you are really not encouraged to out perform others and make them look bad. I feel like I might go crazy working there.

Currently I get no benefits, over time pay etc etc, but I feel I am learning more where I am then I would anywhere else, which will help me down the road, and my boss wants to slowly move in to semi-retirement and simply be the general contractor for our jobs, letting the 3 of us employees form our own company and build for him (passing the torch, so to speak). This does sound appealing to me, and would allow me to make more money, but it is more of a 3-5 year plan.

So do I go for the high paying, easy job now that would allow me reach my goals sooner, to enjoy my life outside of work more and leave the stress of the job at the work site...

Or do I stick out, work much harder for less money (at least in the short term) and job security, but feel much more satisfied with what I do for a living.

What would you do? I'm sure some of you have asked yourself similar questions. How did you decide? Did it work out for you? Is there anything you didn't consider at the time that you wish you had?

Thanks!
 

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I'm not that familiar with your industry, but with only 4 people, I couldn't imagine your boss really cares if you are an apprentice or journeyperson.
If it's non-union, they'll pay you for what you can do and for how much revenue you generate.
Do you feel adequately compensated?
Do you see what the jobs are quoted at? Ever sit and crunch the numbers? Is the boss making a killing while you make a living?
Or maybe the boss is under-bidding...

If you feel there is more $ to go around, you should ask for a raise.

The trick is to have done the math and be confident you are generating enough revenue to be worth more.

Then if you decide to ask for more- you need to give lots of options.... like benefits, or more money, or some vacation, etc. etc... to show you are serious and not just looking for more money per-se.
 

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just another thought...

are there types of jobs your company doesn't bid on for whatever reason?

if so, maybe you could bid and do some weekend work on your own. avoids conflict of interest that way.
You have the skills, might as well capitalize.
 

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Writing the contract is were the money is. Complete apprenticeship and get involve in every aspect of the biz. Start acquiring equipment. And write the contract.
 

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Writing the contract is were the money is. Complete apprenticeship and get involve in every aspect of the biz. Start acquiring equipment. And write the contract.
Agreed! From what it sounds like the education and on the job training you're receiving now far outweighs the potential immediate wage increase to moving into a Unionized position.

I'm in a very similar boat and I'm sticking where I am right now for the educational opportunities, they're more valuable down the road for me then getting out of my current employment situtation.
 

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I would say with moving jobs there are a lot of unknowns. The problem is if you like your job now, you might go through more years of training to something you hate, to the point that you can't stand going to work everyday.

Anyway, it seems like the key to making money in your business is to be the one running it. This is from an income perspective as well as from a tax perspective. From an income perspective because you can charge by the job, which, if you are competent and efficient, you can use to make much more on an hourly basis. From a tax perspective because you can write off business expenses, such as your truck, an office in your apartment, computer equipment, gas, etc.

So in the meantime concentrate on learning the trade, but also, if you can, learning the business by paying close attention to how it's run (if you believe it's well done). One other thing I would do if you believe you are good at what you do and bring value to the company is to ask for a raise or maybe propose a bonus system when projects are done under time and under budget.
 

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Writing the contract is were the money is. Complete apprenticeship and get involve in every aspect of the biz. Start acquiring equipment. And write the contract.
I was going to say something similiar, but that's pretty well defined.

If you want to determine how much you're paid, when you work, and what you do, then you need to work towards becoming self employed, a big part of which as noted above, is getting the contract. Otherwise, there's only variations on someone else telling you how much you get paid, when you work, and what you do.
 

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This totally depends on your boss, and your relationship with him. Sit down over lunch or sometime when you have his full attention and aren't rushed or stressed for time. Basically just lay out for him exactly what you have said above, that you know right now you are learning but are having a hard time financially day to day with your current pay. This combined with seeing openings at other jobs that are much higher paying. He may be willing to increase your pay, OR he may at least be able to lay out a future plan when you are no longer an apprentice.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks to everyone who replied, sorry it took me so long to post again.

I did indeed have a sit down with my boss over lunch the other day, and we worked out a plan. First off, I did get a modest raise, and we agreed to a very reasonable bonus system for taking on more responsibility within the company.

Secondly, he recognized the need to branch out and make more money. Personally, he feels I should go the self employment route when I'm done my apprenticeship (as he did years back) and encouraged me to build for him as a sub-contractor, and to go out and find my own contracts.

Also, he recognized the need to groom myself and our other apprentice not only in building but contracting and estimating (usually his exclusive domain) so when we are out on our own we have not only the practical skills but business knowledge to do well, and as some other posters said, that's where the money is.

Anyways, glad something positive came out of all that! Again, thanks for everyone's responses and suggestions, I really appreciate them!
 

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hello pablo

i was glad when posters suggested you remain in your present job, where you clearly are thriving, while seeking to improve circumstances like salary.

and i do believe you'd make a good independent contractor yourself, and would succeed with your own business.

however, i had a certain feeling when reading your original message, and now that hunch is stronger. It goes like this. I wonder whether your boss is in the habit of hiring apprentices & then encouraging them to leave - perhaps even pushing them out - as soon as they graduate or gain enough experience that they become, inevitably, more expensive personnel to keep on the payroll.

apprentices are probably the cheapest qualified labour he can find. If he can find ones who are motivated, consciencious and talented like yourself, he gains a big bonus. Should there be any highly skilled aspects to a job, he can probably either do those himself or else briefly sub-contract an outside expert.

in other words, i feel your boss has worked out the most efficient & profitable way to run a construction company. This doesn't mean, though, that the succeeding cohorts of apprentices are necessarily being set properly upon a career path to becoming independent contractors. The feeling i get is that he's turfing you guys out prematurely, so he can start hiring again at low beginning-apprentice wages.

i remember the first time someone explained to me that firing most of the lower and middle-ranking staff & re-hiring eager-beaver novices at starter salaries was a common & profitable business practice (this was in the US; may be harder to do in canada & certainly not possible in a unionized shop.)

the surprising fact, and what would make me uneasy, is that the boss wants you to go independent as soon as you finish your apprenticeship. This is too soon, imho, since you've mentioned you only have a year left, and after that you understandably would like a big vacation with travel. Yes, he does say he'll offer sub-contracting jobs to his former apprentices. But will he ? Or will he get by with his own crew of newly-hired and less expensive apprentices, only offering you guys jobs on an erratic and marginal basis when he's overbooked.

if there's any merit to my view, it's hard to know what to suggest. The boss sounds like a good guy, he's not doing anything remotely illegal, and you have a good relationship with him. The industry must be organized, though; can you find out how older ex-apprentices have handled the same situation ? did they take business courses to help them learn about accounting, cash management, project management ? were any of them able to persuade their employers to keep them on staff - at increasingly better pay & increasingly bigger responsibilities - for at least 5 years, so they could learn all the nuts & bolts of a difficult industry ? can you find any former apprentices who were mentored for long periods by their bosses, so that they wound up being partners in the firm ?

i'm tempted to end on a light note. A fast way to ascend to partnership, even to inherit the enterprise, is to marry the boss's daughter ...

best of luck to you.
 

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I agree with humble_pie. After your apprenticeship, you might want to consider getting a job with a bigger company to give you experience in developing the other requisite skills need to run your own business.

(I am reminded of an analogy that Bill Onken used to use. When you get into management, you are loaded up with a bunch of overhead tasks not part of the job you enjoy doing. So you work hard to minimize that aspect of the job so that you can enjoy your work. Then you get promoted and guess what: you get more of the overhead that you hate! And so it goes.)
 
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