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Thread: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

  1. #16
    Senior Member RD_Wrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

    Quote Originally Posted by sprayandpray View Post
    RD, listen to yourself - if all locators start to make more money because of Certification requirements the companies have to raise their rates. Where do these rates cross the line where utility owners take back the locating in-house? Our last in-house locators here in DFW were making less than $16 per hr and were CWA members. The other problem is that most utilities have several hundred other workers per each locator needed so the Locators will never be that important, especially to Unions or upper-management. We are non-revenue producers as in-house employees and our contibutions, as far as damage reducers/preventers are difficult to account for and are only highlighted occasionally when extremely large damage claims are collected from a contractor.
    Training, education, continuing education are all good ideas but don't expect significant monetary gains for Locators because of them.
    Spray, if those same in-house locators aren't required to have the same certifications as contract/SUE/private locators, that might be true. But a required certification and licensing process mandated for ANYONE putting paint on the ground (again, see Electricians, Plumbers and the like), regardless of who employs them, would negate the aspect of losing contracts due to companies pulling it back in-house. Their costs would go up regardless, whether it be contract rates increasing, or having to pay in-house techs more, because in-house techs would be required to have the exact same certifications.

    Essentially, as far as Utility Companies are concerned, the need for contract locating wouldn't change. The cost for contracting the service out, vs. paying in-house techs bennifits and eating the cost of their own damages, would still exist. If the cost of in-house locating wasn't a significant aspect of revenue acounting, as you state, then contract locating wouldn't exist at all NOW. The only difference would be that the rates they pay either way would increase, and contract bidding would be leveled, forcing utility companies to evaluate QUALITY as their deciding factor, as opposed to who does it the cheapest, since contract companies would have to charge fairly even rates to off-set labor costs.

    Finally, if the testing and certification process is in-depth enough where not just anyone can pass the requirements (see warm body syndrome rampant in the industry), then the quality of technicians would be higher, making the position harder to fill, making people that CAN do the job more in demand (because not just anyone CAN do this job right), thus making the wage a certified tech. can demand higher. At least thats the way I see it, and the way it has worked in many other industries in the past.
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  2. #17
    Premium Conservative OVUS1's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

    Quote Originally Posted by sprayandpray View Post
    RD, listen to yourself - if all locators start to make more money because of Certification requirements the companies have to raise their rates. Where do these rates cross the line where utility owners take back the locating in-house? Our last in-house locators here in DFW were making less than $16 per hr and were CWA members. The other problem is that most utilities have several hundred other workers per each locator needed so the Locators will never be that important, especially to Unions or upper-management. We are non-revenue producers as in-house employees and our contibutions, as far as damage reducers/preventers are difficult to account for and are only highlighted occasionally when extremely large damage claims are collected from a contractor.
    Training, education, continuing education are all good ideas but don't expect significant monetary gains for Locators because of them.

    Hourly wage is only one small part of what it costs a company per employee. Health insurance and long-term benefits, 401K or stock options, pension plans, matching taxes, vehicles, fuel, corporate insurance, payroll, HR, accounting, time management, not to mention having to "eat" every damage. In years past, when most locating was done in-house, the utility simply applied with the Public Service Commission (or whatever you call them in your state) and asked for a rate hike every year or two. Today it's not that simple. Governing bodies (mostly elected) are not so quick to approve a rate hike nowadays (economy in shambles, millions of people out of work, and there's much more competition between multiple utility providers too), so rolling all this cost in-house can't come close to the savings of using an outside source to provide this service. Being a certified locator is no different that being a certified electrician. Wages will rise as will cost to the Operator, although I don't think either will be astronomical.

    I am more concerned about certain technology being introduced that would significantly reduce the number of tickets each Operator receives, thereby reducing the number of locators needed to roll on those tickets. I think that is the greater fear that I have rather than the long-term effects of raising the bar when it comes to overall knowledge of and skill in this industry.

    All good points and good conversation.
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    Senior Member scap's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

    Sure, education is great, but if this is applied, think about the costs. If it costs 5,000.00 on average to train one tech currently, and there's 25 techs locating out of one office, that's 125,000.00 right there just training them with the current method. I figure this further education will stretch above, or near the 5000,00.00 mark per tech...So, figuring that in, it would effectively double the cost to train each technician. While staying un-unionized, I can foresee our pay rate and pay scale staying the exact same, even with further education. <shrug> I'd do what I always do if I was told to goto some school, just go with the flow...never forget the golden rule.
    "The truth is rarely pure and never simple"-Oscar Wilde

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    Default Re: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

    Quote Originally Posted by OVUS1 View Post
    NULCA just attended a meeting in Virginia with a majority of locating companies, several Operators, the State Corporation Commission, and Southside Virginia Community College to discuss the reality of a vocational course designed to train new locators and to re-train those that might be having issues.

    We are asking for your input as to what you would like to see taught in these classes. It was discussed that this should be more tuned to "basic training" so that all of the universal processes that we all live by are covered and that each individual company could provide additional "technical training" that is specific to their company after the tech graduates from the course.

    SVCC has a five acre area that has been set up with just about every utility because they also offer heavy equipment operation training (and several other vocational disciplines as well). They have built a new addition to the school that has computer labs and other classroom space for this program.

    NULCA would like your input as to the need for something like this. BTW, it's not just for Virginia. They would welcome technicians from anywhere and have low-cost housing available on-site. Don't sweat the cost, that will be handled in different ways. We need two things from you:

    First, do you think there is a need for this program? and
    Second, what would you like to see the program provide?
    two words. Staking U...

  5. #20
    Premium Conservative OVUS1's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

    Quote Originally Posted by Trent3342 View Post
    two words. Staking U...
    Not accredited, NOT A CERTIFICATION regardless of what they advertise (go ahead, ask them what their certification consists of), no financial aid available (I think it's $495 for a two day class?), and only one location (although they do travel some during the year). Once established, this course and curriculum can be taught at any accredited university, community college, or vocational school anywhere in the US.

    I've never attended one of Staking U's classes so I can't comment on how effective the training is or how extensive the training is. I only know that what I used to cover in two days when I was a trainer for Radiodetection was barely enough to train on the equipment itself.

    Again, let's stick to the topic. Do you think it is needed, and what would you like to see taught?
    Job Applicant: What does this job pay?
    Employer: I'm going to pay you just what you are worth!
    Job Applicant: I don't think I can work for that......

  6. #21
    Mke
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    Default Re: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

    OVUS...

    Some accreditation would be nice....but its too ambigous to generalize.

    In a perfect world, I would like to see a year long certification proccess which includes all the basics.

    For Example:
    1) Print Reading 101 (the pre-req would be Understanding the compass 101)

    2) Remeadial Art class ( so locators can make their paint be readable, and their stripes not 6' long.)


    All Jokes aside, There should be class on Utility Safety, so we don't have people doing things that will either damage the utility or themselves. Their should be a class on identifiying utility structures and understanding basic construction principles.

    Then you can get into the meat and potatoes of locating, Electrical theorys as well as locating principles and theories touching on the concept of using radio frequencies to locate utilities. Then a shared course that shows them basic use of equipment, and maybe detailed instruction on the use of their specific equipment.

    The certificate should take a year to get (two Semesters @ Part time or one full time Semester.) and should take some effort to achieve. I'm tired of taking "safety classes" that are given because they have to, and they don't achive anything but waste time.

    Sad part is, this won't happen. Locating has been around for some time, and still hasn't worked to settle differences between other locating companies let alone construction companies and Utilities.

    Good Luck OVUS

    mke

  7. #22
    Conservative Meanie ifinditunderground's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

    Where does this stand CAS? I'm still interested.
    There is a fine line between "Hobby" and "Mental Illness."
    "America isn't free, in America you are free to follow the rules." -Anthony Cumia


  8. #23
    Right Wing Conspirator GWJ_CAS's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

    Quote Originally Posted by ifinditunderground View Post
    Where does this stand CAS? I'm still interested.
    SVCC just had another class of locator training. This most recent class was twenty-two (22) potential locators or locators looking for some training/accreditation. SVCC organizes the classes based on enrollment. Please contact the College directly for the next class schedule.

    http://www.southside.edu/academics/e...ng/default.asp

    Virginia Center for Underground Utility Damage Prevention

    Southside Virginia Community College began offering of utility locator training in December 2010. The class entitled, Underground Utility Locating and Damage Prevention which is offered at Pickett Park in Blackstone, VA consists of 60 hours of training over a two week period. Students who successfully complete the training will receive 4 college credits and a certificate of completion.

    This class is designed to meet the needs of new and recent hires in all facets of the locating industry and will closely follow NULCA training objectives. It will address problems and solutions for locating gas, electric, water, sewer, and telecom, as well as the Virginia dig law. Topics will include electromagnetic theory, conductive versus inductive locating, signal strength, frequency, antennas and a host of other topics. Equipment is available but students are encouraged to bring their own equipment (including safety vests and hardhats) to improve their familiarity with their own locating tools.

    The training provides a well-balanced mix of classroom theory and field practice beginning on our newly expanded Utility Locator Demonstration Field Lab and concluding with practice locating live utilities on Ft. Pickett Army Base. The instructor for the class is Christopher Koch, a consultant with Hance Utility Services in Minnesota and vice president of NULCA.

    The cost of the class is $486 for Virginia residents ($1, 252.40 for out-of-state residents), which covers the cost of tuition. Books and lunch fees are extra. Enrollment is limited to 18 people. Several options are available for lodging. Limited but very reasonably priced accommodations may be available on the base and there are several hotels either nearby or in adjacent towns. For additional information on the class and lodging please call Lydia Shepherd at (434) 292-3101.

    Classes will run from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Thursday.



    Course


    Course Dates


    Course Title


    Location

    ELE 196-76


    February 20-March 1, 2012


    Locator Training


    Pickett

  9. #24
    Senior Member headcipher's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

    $1,252.40 for a 2 week class doesn't sound too affordable to me. I don't foresee too many companies dropping that kind of money on locator training.

    Where does this accredited certificate mean something?

    Does anyone know which states require certification? I haven't heard any talk of this for a while.

    If a state does require certification, does this class meet or exceed their requirements?

  10. #25
    Conservative Meanie ifinditunderground's Avatar
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    Default Re: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

    Looks like we are going to start cycling our people thru this program.....
    There is a fine line between "Hobby" and "Mental Illness."
    "America isn't free, in America you are free to follow the rules." -Anthony Cumia


  11. #26
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    Default Re: College Accredited Locator School In Virginia!

    Probably a good idea, as of now all these companies are doing is putting poorly trained and equipped people out there to do as many tickets as possible, its no wonder the industry has become a CYA ordeal instead of trying to protect people and property(notice I put people first). Its going to take alot of work but its a start. Fact is its alot easier to get a locating job than at Wal-mart or Burger King. Just my opinion.

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