By Josh Cosford, Contributing Editor
If you ask a career counselor what field to get into, chances are a fluid power career will be the last recommendation given to you. Not only have the technical trades lost their glamour, but they also get forgotten while computer sciences, information technology and electronic engineering fields are given revered status by educators and governments alike.
However, those of us lucky to be in this field know both why it’s so important and why it’ll be a top choice for any young professional long into the future. Although my reasons for entering fluid power were many, I present to you my Top 5 reasons to pursue a fluid power career.
- The money. The fluid power engineers, technicians and salespersons in this industry are very well paid. This is partially because it’s a specialized industry requiring vast levels of experience and education to do well, and it’s because fluid power professionals are not being replenished as quickly as attrition is expelling them. Top level fluid power professionals are held tight by their employers, and part of that requires Benjamins.
- The challenge. If you’re like me and aren’t happy unless you’re growing and learning, the fluid power industry is for you. It seems like the more I learn about fluid power, it just makes me realize how little I know about fluid power. Even when I was a neophyte thinking I was the nuts because I knew more than farmers do about tandem centre valves, I was blown away when I was exposed to load sensing. To this day, I know advanced motion control mathematics are a weakness of mine, but I know it’s a challenge I’ll overcome.
- The comradery. It seems like everyone knows everyone in this industry. At any given trade show, association meeting or golf tournament, it’s like you’re getting back in touch with old high school friends. Because we all tend to circulate amongst the limited number of industry employers, there are colleagues we’ve previously worked with at these events. As well, because so few schools teach fluid power, there is a good chance you will run into your alumni. It’s just a great feeling of inclusiveness working in the fluid power industry.
- The secret club. This is not so much a reflection of point number three, but rather, it seems like hydraulics is a black art that so few are aware of. When I tell people I work in hydraulics, they ask me if I can put hydraulics in their slammed Civic. My response is usually, “Firstly, I don’t think your Civic would suit a backhoe attachment, and secondly, you can’t afford the ten grand for the conversion.”
- The job security. Because fluid power is a mature industry that is not going anywhere, especially in the mobile market, a fluid power professional is always in demand. On top of that, so few young adults are pursuing this career that there are career gaps everywhere you turn. Look on every one of the top fluid power manufacturer’s websites and you’ll find a full careers page begging for individuals just like you—the person you can become.
Brenda Loignon says
Your post is compelling. I am not an engineer, and I work in the construction industry. After working at a shipyard some time ago on a federal contract, I became curious about machinery, thermodynamics, hydraulics, and the like. One of the reasons I don’t jump head first into a manufacturing or engineering career is I am opposed to drug testing on principle, particularly random drug testing of people who are not doing safety-sensitive work. I’m 57 and grew up at a time when giving up my Fourth Amendment rights was not expected. Plus, I don’t need to switch careers. Unfortunately, I think drug testing and other invasive employment requirements keep a lot of people like myself (who don’t take drugs) out of exciting industries like yours. I think it’s a shame because smart people need to work too and have the need to be involved in high-impact work. Do you have any advice?