If you’re looking for a run-of-the-mill, traditional success story, this is not it. But if you’re looking to be inspired, you’re in the right place. I was able to get in touch with a man by the name of Ryan Manuel, an industrial electrical estimator, and upon hearing what I was up to at HackCollege, he agreed to give me an interview about his recent professional pursuits. I’ve detailed all his answers below.

What is your professional job title?

Industrial Electrical Estimator for analytical and process control buildings in plants.

How did you get into your industry and how long have you been in it?

Right after I graduated high school in 2007, I went to work at a sawmill. My job was stacking lumber. It was on a shift work schedule. I had no real trade to speak of at the time. Due to some personal circumstances and concern over working a shift job schedule, my father offered me a job as an electrical helper. That way, I would be able to learn a valuable trade. I agreed and started working in that capacity, and then continued until I became a journeyman electrician. In April 2014, I was asked if I was interested in becoming an estimator. I said I was, and I have been in this role ever since then.

Can you tell me what your typical day is like?

It depends on the day, some days we have so much to do that we barely have time to think.

On other days, when we are not super busy, I use an Excel spreadsheet to make material and labor takeoff sheets that will help with any pre-engineering tasks my company may need, which helps speed up my estimates. Because my job deals with proposing multimillion dollar projects to clients, we try to always be descriptive to explain to the customer exactly what we are offering with no gray areas. The less confusion the better. It isn’t easy work, but it is meaningful work.

Have you had a job in the same industry that you didn’t enjoy as much? Why?

I have been offered a position in sales but refused the job due to the fact that I’m more of an introverted person–and sales would not have suited my personality at all. I think it’s very important for people to consider their natural personalities before taking on a job. Sometimes, you might be offered a position because someone else thinks you may be good at it, but really you ultimately know yourself the best. So, don’t be afraid to say no to opportunities you think aren’t a good fit for you.

Do you have advice for students looking to get into your industry? Do you have specific advice for women?

My advice to students would be that this industry has great opportunity for advancement; all one needs is the will to want to learn. I would specifically suggest women strive to get into engineering or project management, those specific jobs are the best paying jobs across the board with the least amount of hassle. This industry welcomes women with open arms.

Which certifications and skills should beginners possess if they hope to work in your industry?

I would say a basic knowledge of business helps anyone trying to get into the oil and gas industry. There are a lot of different certifications you can get to help you get into the industry depending on what area you want to enter. There is anything from basic field work, estimating, scheduling, safety, or general supervision. It all really depends on what you enjoy doing.

So what’s inspiring specifically about Ryan? He never went to college. While I don’t discourage people from going to college, as I most certainly want people with the desire to go to be able to attend, not going doesn’t mean you’re reduced to a life of poverty or need. If you don’t believe me, check out the numbers for yourself. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has statistics reports on every type of engineering and estimating job there is, so that’s the first place to look for information. Payscale puts them at anywhere from $38,680 – $90,850. That’s not a bad salary at all.

Sources:Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale