What is Diplocon?

Diplocon was founded to provide resources for people seeking jobs providing construction services to the Diplomatic Community. While continuing to do so, it has also evolved into a nexus for employment professionals and consultants, job seekers interested in employment OCONUS (Outside CONtinental United States) in any field, and people already OCONUS whether working in the diplomatic realm, construction, maintenance, and support of diplomatic facilities, or in other professions and roles.

Archive for General

Apr
04

Sprinkler fitters

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Sprinkler fitters overseas

What do sprinkler fitters do overseas that they don’t so much in the USA? In general, not a lot. Sprinkler fitters on an overseas jobsite are likely to do about the same things they do in the US, but may face greater challenges. They’re likely to face shortages of materials and supplies. If the project is in a phase in which there is not a lot of need for sprinkler fitters, they can fill in as helpers to the carpenters, electricians, etc. instead of being temporarily laid off. However, their wage will normally not fall to that of a helper.

Most journeyman level sprinkler fitters will have all the background required to earn top pay overseas, but may be required to adapt their skills to existing conditions. In some parts of the world, code compliant materials, familiar tools, and supplies are weeks away so the ability to look ahead and plan the work is a critical asset.

How can you acquire or polish sprinkler fitter skills for assignments overseas?

If you have no professional experience as a sprinkler fitter, you can start by going to a community college or trade school near your home. If that is not an option, you can take an online course (do a web search for online technical training – you may need to search for plumbing and welding courses). Even experienced sprinkler fitters that have learned on the job can benefit from such courses. Hiring Managers for overseas jobs or projects like to see some documentation of training. Hiring for overseas work is an intensive effort on the employer’s part because they will be investing thousands of dollars in you before you earn a penny for them.

You can also work your way up through union apprenticeship programs or on the job as an apprentice if there are no union facilities near you.

Whether you are an experienced sprinkler fitter or are in training, you should focus on being proficient and quality oriented in at least the following:

  • Layout and installation risers, main, and branch lines
  • Installing arm-overs and heads in very crowded spaces
  • Installation of correct rated heads
  • Local and national code compliance
  • Focus on commercial and institutional systems
  • Maintenance and trouble shooting

For more information or guidance email info@diplocon.com and/or sign up to join our email community and we will be glad to help.

Mar
30

Plumbers

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Plumbers overseas 

What do plumbers do overseas that they don’t so much in the USA? In general, not a lot. plumbers on an overseas jobsite are likely to do about the same things they do in the US, but may face greater challenges. They’re likely to face shortages of materials and supplies. If the project is in a phase in which there is not a lot of need for plumbers, they can fill in as helpers to the carpenters, electricians, etc. instead of being temporarily laid off. However, their wage will normally not fall to that of a helper.

Most journeyman level plumbers will have all the background required to earn top pay overseas, but may be required to adapt their skills to existing conditions. In some parts of the world, code compliant materials, familiar tools, and supplies are weeks away so the ability to look ahead and plan the work is a critical asset.

How can you acquire or polish plumber skills for assignments overseas?

If you have no professional experience as a plumber, you can start by going to a community college or trade school near your home. If that is not an option, you can take an online course (do a web search for online technical training). Even experienced plumbers that have learned on the job can benefit from such courses. Hiring Managers for overseas jobs or projects like to see some documentation of training. Hiring for overseas work is an intensive effort on the employer’s part because they will be investing thousands of dollars in you before you earn a penny for them.

You can also work your way up through union apprenticeship programs or on the job as an apprentice if there are no union facilities near you.

Whether you are an experienced plumber or are in training, you should focus on being proficient and quality oriented in at least the following:

  • Layout and installation of supply, waste, and vent lines
  • Installation of fixtures
  • Local and national code compliance
  • Focus on commercial and institutional systems
  • Maintenance and trouble shooting 

For more information or guidance email info@diplocon.com and/or sign up to join our email community and we will be glad to help.

Mar
05

Carpenters Skills

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I will begin with carpenters since I began my career overseas as a carpenter.

Ok, what do they do overseas that they don’t so much in the USA? In general, a lot. Carpenters on an overseas jobsite are likely to wear several different hats over course of a project. They’re likely to be the first trade called in and the last to leave. That is not much different from the USA but their roles can be – it is better to be a generalist than to be overly specialized. Often, if the project is in a phase in which there is not a lot of need for carpenters, they will fill in as helpers to the electricians, plumbers, etc. instead of being temporarily laid off. However, their wage will normally not fall to that of a helper.

Some journeyman level carpenters will have all the background required to earn top carpenter pay overseas, but may be required to adapt their skills to existing conditions. I was a finishes supervisor on a project in West Africa, and worked with a pair of highly trained brothers that would consistently tell me that it was impossible to do the work required with the tools and materials available. I could tell they were probably excellent craftsmen when given everything they requested to work with, but in that part of the world, familiar materials, tools, and supplies are weeks away or simply not going to be available so less experienced , but adaptable carpenters would have been a more valuable asset. If you have basic skills, know the importance of basics like line, level, plumb, and square, and, can remain flexible there may overseas jobs in your future if you desire.

How can you acquire or polish carpentry skills for assignments overseas?

If you have no professional carpentry experience you can start by going to a community college or trade school near your home. If that is not an option, you can take an online course (do a web search for online technical training). Even experienced carpenters that have learned on the job can benefit from such courses. Hiring Managers for overseas jobs or projects like to see some documentation of training. Hiring for overseas work is an intensive effort on the employer’s part because they will be investing thousands of dollars in you before you earn a penny for them.

You can also work your way up through union apprenticeship programs or on the job training.

Whether you are an experienced carpenter or are in training, you should focus on being proficient and quality oriented in at least the following:

Accurate layout and construction of interior partitions (mostly metal frame with gypsum board) including accurate hollow metal door and window frame installation.

Installation of suspended ceiling systems (be knowledgeable and adaptable in creative ways to suspend ceilings very crowded/limited space between the grid and the structure/attachment points above)

Accurate door hanging and adjusting

Accurate cabinet installation

Gypsum board finishing

Installation of sheet flooring such as resilient vinyl, etc.

Vinyl Composite Tile installation

Ceramic Tile installation

Rolled Carpet installation

Carpet Tile installation

Painting (including preparation)

Assorted hardware and lock installation


For more information or guidance email info@diplocon.com and/or sign up to join our email community and we will be glad to help.


Greg



Feb
28

Working outside of the USA

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Although I enjoy traveling and living in cultures outside the USA, there are times when I get that “There’s no place like home” feeling and think I would like to find a job in the States. When I look in local job listings or even the big nationwide sites and see the wages or salaries being advertised as “good pay” or “high wages” I am quickly reminded that I would have to take a huge pay cut, and lose some of my excellent benefits, just to take a chance on a job that may be only temporary. I quickly come back to reality and appreciate the opportunities that are presented to me working outside the USA.

When you see an Internet “news” article touting some position that pays “as much as” $40,000 per year, think double that amount overseas. There are also opportunities that may not pay double your current wage or salary, but compensate by providing storybook surroundings and cultures to explore and experience. There are even plenty of locations that can offer the best of both situations

To say there are high paying, steady, overseas jobs for us regular folks is no exaggeration. I should know. I’m pretty much an average guy, and, do not have a college degree; but I’ve been working steady for over ten years – and except for one year on a small Pacific island with tropical weather, jungle, and warm clear ocean – have earned at least double what I would have paid at home.

There are plenty of empty positions to be filled (not to mention a lot of “dead wood” that needs to be removed and replaced by motivated folks like you.) It may be that all you would need to do to get there is tweak your skills a bit and know how to look for the jobs.

During the Spring of 2011this blog will focus on ideas for tradespeople, supervisors, managers, and even those with little experience in the work force to date, to turn their current skill set into a marketable package that could help them double their income overnight by working overseas.

Over a few weeks we will examine the skills below. You may find that you (or someone you know) might qualify to, or be close to qualified to, fill a position in:

Construction trades

Engineering disciplines

Construction managers

Administrative and clerical

Construction Security

Telecom Technicians

Locksmiths

Technical Security Technicians

8a small or disadvantaged business contracting

Teaching

Mechanics and equipment maintenance technicians

Airframe and power plant techs

Information Technology Technicians

Computer Programmers

It may be your time to make your way in the wider world of overseas jobs. Even if you don’t see an obvious reference to your line of work in the list above, email us at info@diplocon.com and suggest your current skills as a topic for discussion on this blog, or, in private if you choose.



Feb
23

Thinking twice about Mexico in 2011

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A couple of years ago I blogged “Mexico is getting a bad rap”, and at the time it was. The newsies along the US side of the border were sensationalizing and in general doing poor reporting – at least from my point of view living on the other side at the time. Since then the cartels have become extremely ruthless and brutal, and have killed several US citizens, something that was unheard of in 2008 when I posted that blog.

As a subcriber to Stratfor (right side of the page you are reading this on), I get straight intelligence, not sensationalized stories from hack news novelists. Stratfor has been proactively searching for the facts about Mexico’s cartel on cartel, and, cartel on government violence, and sending it out to members in the form of security reports – not news stories meant to shock, or, persuade readers that the problems in Mexico are all the fault of the US as some politicians on both sides of the border want us to believe.

Based on solid information (but not as one living on the other side as I have completed my assignents in Mexico and moved on), in my opinion in 2011, Mexico is getting hazardous and one should perform due dilligence and assess the situation before accepting an assignment there.

Greg

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Feb
22

Are journalists just bloggers?

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While working overseas, the Internet is my connection with America and my primary source for news but it seems like any more, journalists seem to be just bloggers with unearned credibility. Wait, my apologies are due the few real journalists remaining out there. I should use the term “news writers” for the others since they are more like story writers. There are still a few real journalists out there, but a disturbingly huge number of those supposedly reporting the news are really not. They present opinions, like this blogger, but I am clearly presenting my point of view, not stating anything as objective fact and using a byline from a supposedly reputable news agency to lend credence to a slanted piece of agenda driven drivel.

I am old enough to remember when you picked up a newspaper and actually read it for an entire Sunday morning, or, in the evening after work. You read it and digested meaning. You expected good reporting and factual writing with good editor oversight and, yes, even editorial control so the story was fact checked and the grammar was proper. There were news sections and an Op/Ed section. The news was clearly news, the opinions and editorials were in a separate section under a clearly stated heading and were clearly what they were indicated as being.

Now, frequently, a headline promises news, but the writer delivers an opinion to support their political agenda, and with so many hack writers out there competing to attract hits from visitors (it seems in the Internet age we are no longer considered readers) there seems to be little concern for delivering news that an educated and seasoned adult can use and more for attracting young, more easily influenced (not to mention saleable) visitors. I think that may be the key difference between pre-Internet journalism and now. At one time, journalists were considered accomplished if they could present the facts in a way that would keep a reader reading. Now, it is more about getting the highest number of hits on the news agency website. That can be most efficiently done by writing sensationalized stories that will excite a desired demographic group to each forward the article to their hundreds of “friends” on the social networking sites so the friends will bounce over for a moment and be counted as a website hit. As I understand it, the more hits, not necessarily the quality of the traffic, the higher the price for ad space so advertisers cough up their highest advertising dollars to market to visitors whether they actually stay for more than a few seconds or not.

I would appreciate some points of view from others, especially some journalists (and even news writers) and welcome dissenting points of view. I believe that real journalism could be one of the most important professions in the world and wields great power. I think, for our collective sake we need to get objectivity back in news reporting and save the opinions and agendas for the Op/Ed section.

Greg


Categories : A place to rant, General
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Feb
13

IRS problems

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Any negative actions between you and the Internal Revenue Service can cause a security clearance investigation to be prolonged, and possibly a denial of clearance.

None of us enjoy paying taxes, but let’s face the fact that in a modern society, taxes are necessary to provide government entities with funds to provide services for the common good. That being said, it is neither philanthropic nor patriotic to pay more than your share as required by IRS or state or local tax codes so learn how to file for the most honest deductions allowable. The thing to be aware of is that if you do owe taxes, and you try to avoid paying them, you could be denied a clearance or lose it if you currently have one. If you owe taxes, contact the entity to which you owe them, and pay them off if you can, or, work out a payment plan to pay some each month. Tax collection agencies would rather work with you than cause you to lose your livelihood. The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem.

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Feb
06

More money, less tax

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Increase income and decrease taxes at the same time. Runs contrary to normal thinking, right? We are raised on the notion that, at least for working class Americans, our taxes must increase as our income increases. That may be the case for many Americans, but for the relatively few that work overseas, taxes can be much less than for an equivalent income earned in the USA. It is entirely possible that a profession in the US, when performed overseas, will result in double the pay, and less than half the taxes.

While there are some overseas workers that are subject to full US tax liabilities, many positions overseas that must be filled by Americans  have great tax breaks. When seeking a position overseas, it is a good idea to check with others that are already out there working in the wider world to find out how much US income tax they are required to pay. Because the compensation available overseas is generally much higher than in the US, taxes should not be the deciding factor when weighing options, but it is good to know before you go. One way to find out what others are paying is to ask the folks that use the diplocon website to keep in touch with the wider world OCONUS. Click on “Start your own thread” in the” Know before you go category” and leave a comment/question, then watch for a reply in the following days.

Greg@diplocon

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Jan
25

Start your own thread

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Start your own thread here. Be creative or keep it simple – it is your medium for expressing your views and opinions, or seeking answers to your questions. Please just bear in mind that we strive to maintain an environment of good taste and diplomacy.

May
08

Mexico is getting a bad rap.

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There will be quite a lot of good, high paying work in diplomatic construction and support coming up in the next few months and years in Mexico.

Mexico is getting pummeled in the mainstream media. Listen to an El Paso radio station and you’ll hear comments about Ciudad Juarez (just across the Rio Grande from El Paso) being the “Wild West” and a place to “send felons” for punishment instead of prison. Read newspapers or watch newscasts from US border towns and you’ll get the impression that entering Mexico is a death sentence. Those that broadcast or print such drivel are doing a great dis-service to the honest, hardworking people of Mexico that are struggling with a bad world economy plus the added burden of poor news writing from across the border.

In my 27 months in Juarez, I never encountered any problems of the sort the newsies on the north side of the border expound upon with gusto. Any major city has places where one should not go and Juarez is no exception. However, it would be ridiculous to turn down a job there just out of fear. It is a decent place to live and work as long as one does not go looking for trouble.

Tijuana is gaining a reputation as a trouble spot too. But, as with Juarez (and, again, any major city in the world) it has it’s good areas and bad areas.

If you are offered a job in either city, or in any city in Mexico, perform a good web search about the area, go to the CIA website at cia.gov, and stratfor.com, collect some real intel, then decide based on facts, not just what the sensationalists in the mainstream media tell you. 

Greg


Categories : General
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