(Topic ID: 291616)

Contemplating apprenticeship DFW

By BubbaPin

7 months ago

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  • 19 posts
  • 7 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 months ago by BubbaPin
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    #2 7 months ago
    Quoted from BubbaPin:

    How does one go into being a tech. Is it required to be a electrical engineer. Can you apprentice a local tech to learn more. Any licenses tax paperwork required, how's the coin op business. Etc.

    Pinball tech isn't really a regulated position. So you don't need to be any type of engineer. The successful ones can repair pinball machine though. That is the requirement.

    There are not that many pinball techs that take on an apprentice. But there are some. For the start especially, it would be unpaid. Usually it isn't an advertised job with benefits or anything. I'm sure there are exceptions to that, like places similar to TNT. But to get a job there, I'd have to assume you would already need some decent experience. And I wouldn't think the pay or benefits would be that great.

    So as a career, being a pinball tech isn't the greatest position.

    I've been a pinball tech apprentice for about 7 years now, and I have no plans on stopping. I learn new stuff all the time through it. BUT one very important part of that is that I also have a career that has nothing to do with pinball. My "real" career pays the bills and supports my family. I absolutely require the stability and benefits that provides.

    That isn't saying it is impossible to switch to making a living through pinball tech work. But it is a tough choice to do it. The "pinball industry" doesn't really have a ton of jobs right now. Some people are able to scratch one out, but it takes years. And the coin op industry isn't great. Since the heyday of pinball, a lot of different options have opened up. So again, sometimes there is lightning in a bottle, but overall it is a hard career.

    Quoted from BubbaPin:

    It's actually almost impossible for me to go to a local barcade because I just obsess over what is wrong with every game and just want to open the game up and fix it right there.

    Get that crap out of your head quick. What is impossible is for a public location to keep machines in the same shape people do in their houses. Personally I like to go play, and if there is something wrong with the game, I just take it as a handicap to beating the machine. If a switch doesn't work, well, no, that should be fixed by the operator because it impacts the game directly. But weak flippers, bad setup, take my quarters! I don't care about any of it, I just want to play the game as it sits.

    #13 7 months ago
    Quoted from BubbaPin:

    Update: changed title from contemplating career change to contemplating apprenticeship DFW.

    So that is a horse of a different color! And I HIGHLY recommend doing it.

    Obviously what you would be getting is education in exchange for work. And unfortunately the really good opportunities to do it are few and far between. So you need to meet a lot of people, and then get to know the techs in your area. The hard part then is screening the tech to see how much you would learn. You don't want to learn from a hack. And you also don't want to learn from someone that just shotguns parts at a board. You want to find someone that knows what they are doing and can teach you good skills in exchange for work. It's my opinion that those type of techs are a rare bird.

    My situation was just dumb luck. I was selling a cabinet online, and someone noticed a pinball machine in the background of the picture. We became friends, and he introduced me to a tech that worked on a machine for him. Over the next few years he and I became very good friends, and eventually that led to me apprenticing for him. I have learned a TON from him. It has been like a pinball education that would have been impossible to buy. Many years later he still teaches me something every time I'm there. At first it was constant, because my soldering skills were shitty. I'd be working on junk boards and he would look at every solder, and then take the time to explain, and show, and teach me. When I started working on Bally power boards, it was awesome. And eventually that turned into all boards. Ripping apart a playfield started as overwhelming, and now it is just normal life. And working on my own games became easy and fun.

    Overall, it has worked out better than I ever could have hoped for. Partly because he is awesome, but a big part of it is that I've never tried to make it "my job". To me it is just still a big part of this awesome hobby. So I've never been disappointed or taken advantage of while doing it. And all the stuff I've learned is probably the most important, but the most fun is the games. He gets games from customers that are awful, and when we are done, they are amazing. So something I really love is to hang out at the end of the night playing a game we just finished. That has allowed me to play a bunch of games I never would have seen. I plan to keep doing it as long as I can.

    So I guess the next step for you is to start seeking out opportunities to do this kind of work. Get to know the pinballers, who will lead you to the techs, who may lead you to an opportunity. Just be really careful you are getting something out of it. A lot of techs or operators, and even regular pinball people will try to take advantage of you if they can get free work out of you.

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