AMX Careers

JeffJeff Junior MemberPosts: 374
I appear to have gotten myself into an interesting situation, and wanted to see what other people's experiences have been.

I took a job at US Coast Guard Headquarters as the A/V Technician. I'm supposed to support 50 rooms. 4 of these, when I started, had Axcent systems in them. Over the past . . almost 2 years, I've installed over 30 Netlinx systems, gotten my Programmer Cert, and programmed the entire system, including a master panel, from scratch. I like to think I've gotten pretty darn good at this. I LOVE maintaining this system, working long term to perfect a system. I've written every line of code (except for someone's checksum routine I stole from here :), and I treat it like my baby. I like being able to see it grow and keep adding to it, without it ever really being "complete". There's always something new and cool to do.

I used to work for an install company, before I did any programming, just installing the equipment. I wasn't a huge fan of "you've got 2 weeks, finish everything, and we'll sign off, and then it just has to work." I like the evolving system.

However, I'm kind of looking to move on. I love the programming and the actual people at CGHQ, but the contracting company I work for is really screwing everyone around, and I can see that I'm coming. I put my resume on Monster, and I could have 5 or 6 interviews within a week, but they're all for Integrators, where I end up doing installs and moving on.

Have I found a situation here that doesn't really exist elsewhere? Or, if not, how do you find a job as an in-house AMX Programmer? I want to work somewhere and stay there, not jump from place to place. Is this possible to find?

Any help y'all can give me about the reality of the AMX Job Market would be most appreciated.

J

Comments

  • ericmedleyericmedley Senior Member - 3709 Posts Posts: 4,159
    Of course, every market is different...

    I work for a company that does high-end residential and what I'll call boutique commercial. (things like fancy conference rooms, CEO office suites, etc...) We don't do lower-end residential, industrial or education or more utilitarian commercial.

    I'm not only the AMX programmer but also manage the Engineering and Burn-in department. I don't do installs or burn-in of gear. We have a staff of people who do that. we have designers who work directly with the clients and then either I or another guy does the project engineering. I manage the Burn-In area and then we have a group of lead techs who take the stuff out to the sites. They, in turn, manage the techs at the job site. The designer checks the system out and grabs the check from the client. Wash, rinse, repeat...

    To get to the point of doing exclusive programming, you'll have to shoot for a fairly high-end market. I'd say look for high-end residential. (Companies doing homes valued at over $2,000,000) or high-end commerical. (Large scale integration systems. Universities, Large Companies) That's basically going to be the coasts with some exceptions.

    Another avenue would be to go solo. market youself as an independent programmer for hire. There are lots of smaller companies doing lower-end installs that farm out the programming. I do some of this on the side for people I know.

    I was a music producer and audio engineer for over 20 years prior to this career. I was self-employed. I can tell you that it has numerous advantages over working for 'the man.' However, there are also many pitfalls. You have to be disciplined and manage yoru business. You have to be a good accountant for yourself, or at least hire one.

    Taxes are rediculous. You can figure that a little under half of what you make goes away in taxes. (when you're self employed, you have to cover the other half of your SS and other taxes. When you work for a company, they pick that up for you. You never see it.)

    My life with it was always touch-and-go until I went and took some Small Business courses at a community college. It changed my life.

    That's my story and I'm sticking with it. :)
  • jjamesjjames AMX Sustaining Engineer Posts: 2,898
    And I thought this thread was going to be about AMX posting their jobs on Monster! (It's always interesting to read over them.) As far as being the sole-programmer, and doing it full time, it almost isn't always FULL time. Eventually, people start to treat ya like you're the computer guru, just because you can write code, and next thing you know - you'll be configuring routers, printers, etc. and maintaining a network, which I sometimes enjoy, don't get me wrong.

    I agree with Eric, you'll need to find a company that does exclusively high-end job. Finding that though, is difficult. I sort of fell into my position by luck. You could always apply at PepperDash or some other programming farm. You're probably gonna have to move quite a bit to actually get what you want. I started out in MI, moved down here to MO, and I'm hoping one of these days to move even more south.

    If you can install - I think that'll be a plus to a company that hires you, because then you can trouble shoot and make sure the cables are properly connected, etc.

    Anyway - I think I'm sort of rambling - but my point is, good luck! I'm happy with where I'm at for now, but it's not my dream-job. This industry is very small so there's a lot of people that know a lot of people. I think it'll depend a lot on if you're open to moving cross country, if you want to stay in a specific area.
  • JeffJeff Junior Member Posts: 374
    I can certainly install, and I don't even program full time now, but I guess my focus is more on finding a place to work on the same project full time.

    I just don't like bouncing from project to project. I'd be happy to be a computer guy/a/v guy/programmer/etc on a single project, but I haven't seen a lot of those jobs available. It seems to me that everyone who posts jobs online or has contacted me about a job is an integrator, doing lots of custom installs.

    Do large corporations, government entities, college campuses, etc, simply contract everything out, and not hire in-house people?

    J
  • jjamesjjames AMX Sustaining Engineer Posts: 2,898
    Hey installing + programming = mucho $$$. Wish I knew how to install.

    I think that finding that large company/corporation/etc is going to be difficult, and landing the job will probably be even more difficult since they'll probably hire within. I guess I don't quite understand the concept of a "living, breathing" system that changes on a regular basis for 2 years. Finding something like that I'll bet will be difficult. I've never looked for that kind of employment, but . . . . ya never know!

    I'm assuming you want to stay on the commercial side of things?
  • JeffJeff Junior Member Posts: 374
    My last job was commercial, residential, government, religious, whatever works. I have no problem with switching focus.

    My current place, the building itself evolves all the time. We've taken over a second building, and are adding floors (by taking floors that have nothing on them and actually furnishing them) pretty regularly. Offices and people are moving.

    To some extent, the reason this is a living/breathing system is because of finances. I don't know how much it would cost for 75 conference rooms all outfitted with masters and touchpanels, projectors, vtc codecs, etc, but I imagine it would be in the millions. My budget is substantially below $100,000 a year, so I'm building this whole thing gradually. As I build, things change. I doubt it'll ever be "done", in my mind, but if you told me I had 2 weeks to mark it "substantial completion" and sign off on it, I could do it at almost any time. I just keep adding new features that help us out.

    I'd like to think that if I had the budget and another 2 years, I could probably get it complete, but the requirements will change by then and I'll have more work to do.

    It really seems like I've got a unique situation. I wasn't hired to do AMX, I was hired to do A/V, and I found a need for AMX, got training for it, and have built this from the inside. I'd never have convinced them from the outside that they needed this. If, on the other hand, there are colleges or churches or places like that that already KNOW they need an in-house programmer, I'd be happy to switch, I just dont know how to find that, if it even exists.

    J
  • Brad.OdegardBrad.Odegard Junior Member Posts: 40
    For the type of job situation you're asking for, the list of prospects is pretty slim. Bascially the ones I can think of are:

    1. Educational Institution - The University here has a very large AMX deployment with RMS and in-house staff handling the day to day operations and upkeep (basically what you have already)
    2. Large corporate campus - I imagine there are a few of these out there, but I can't believe it will be alot.
    3. Government - you're already there, and you know the drill... DoD or something that requires a security clearance is likely to use in-house staff for regular daily work.

    Honestly, I think you're already in your "dream job" except for perhaps the compensation.....

    I'm doing tons of projects in the resi market, but only a small percentage have AMX in them.. I do all the engineering and design for every system we run through the joint, R & D on new products and technology, computer support and network management, and then the upper level programming for jobs that require it.

    Brad
  • annuelloannuello Junior Member Posts: 294
    I've been working in a university for near 6 years, 5 of which as the in-house AMX programmer. I started off as a general AV technician, which involved doing everything from drilling projector mounts into concrete through to helping academics figure out why "things" don't work by magic (both AMX and non-AMX related). It gave me a good understanding of all the issues that can go wrong in our systems.

    As funding increased we were able to roll out more AMX. In my time I've replaced all but one Axcent system with NetLinx, and have installed RMS for statistic gathering and equipment monitoring. We've recently review our classroom standard to change to AMX for projector control. All new installs will be AMX, and we intend on replacing all non-AMX gear over the next three years.

    With restricted access to classrooms & so many rooms to upgread each year, we outsource the bulk of physical installation work to contractors. I do all the AMX pre-programming & RMS configuration. Due to the complex nature ouf our theatres, we tend to most of the theatre installs ourselves. We only ask contractors to run long-haul cables ot projectors, screens, PIRs, etc.

    Hmmm... Job satisfaction? Yes, lots of it. Most days of the year I travel to the one campus via public transport, with the occasional visit to other campuses for AMX-related work. Regular hours are good for the body clock. Regualr income is good for the mortgage, even though it may be less than private industry.

    If you're interested in working for a university, pick your favorite/convenient one (or five), type in the URL followed by "/jobs". That's how I found mine. Most university AV positions find AMX programming VERY desirable. You may have to do other non-AMX work at the same time (video conferencing, general maintenance) depending on how big the university is.

    Roger McLean
    Swinburne University
  • Thomas HayesThomas Hayes Junior Member Posts: 1,164
    I started my present job 10 years ago as a tech (I'm a component level tech by trade, no board replacement here) with 6 multimedia classrooms. After cleaning up a massive back log of repairs I was asked to look at their AMX systems, Axcent II, too see if I could program them. Since then I now have over 150 multimedia rooms that are all AMX controlled and still growing. I do all the panel designs and programming, help design the rooms, provide wiring diagrams, install the AMX equipment, troubleshooting and as of Dec. 07 I oversee the training for all the staff in our department. Before this I worked in the AV field for a couple of private companies doing mostly repairs and installs for the government. Universities are pretty steady work, not as good pay a the private field but offer a lot of benefits that help make up the difference. I'd look at the educational system for a good steady job. Too bad I didn't know this a week ago because they just hired me a junoir programmer (the number of rooms I oversee finally exceeded the number of working days)

    P.S. I just read the above post, looks like I cut and paste my whole post from it. =)
  • jweatherjweather Junior Member Posts: 320
    I'm not a university AMX guy, but I will second (third?) the opinions above... lots of universities have enough systems to justify one or more full-time integration guys for programming and maintenance. It's a unique situation because you won't find very many companies with hundreds of A/V rooms, but plenty of universities do. Most of them have special arrangements with AMX that allow them to purchase product and receive support without going through a dealer.

    If you want to hang around and tweak one project to perfection, this would be an ideal situation for you. Residential and commercial customers get cranky if you come by every week with "just one more feature", even assuming you never break anything in the process. :)
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