Film-Tech Cinema Systems
Film-Tech Forum


Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile | my password | register | search | faq & rules | forum home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » Film-Yak   » Digital Cinema Field Service Tech - Help (Page 1)

 
This topic comprises 3 pages: 1  2  3 
 
Author Topic: Digital Cinema Field Service Tech - Help
Aleksandar Obradovic
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 125
From: Belgrade, Serbia
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 09-19-2016 02:11 AM      Profile for Aleksandar Obradovic   Email Aleksandar Obradovic   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi all,

Can someone tell me what are usual benefits (and if you care to share - some avg. salary) for field support/service techs in USA? The thing is that I've worked in this field for years but in Europe and now i have an offer from an USA based company. Job is East Coast based (NJ, NY and PA).

I will appreciate any help. If you need more data, have any question so you can give me the best possible answer just ask.

Alex

 |  IP: Logged

Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6629
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 09-19-2016 11:34 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I don't want this to turn into a political debate, and so I'm going to try to tread carefully here. Brad - feel free to close the thread if you feel things may be going in the wrong direction.

Alex - does the company that made you the offer propose to apply for an H-1B visa on your behalf? If so you should be aware that there is a controversy over this practice, with accusations having been made that this is being done primarily to cut costs. Therefore, I would suggest that you try to establish if the offer you're being made is worth significantly less than would be made to a US Citizen or legal permanent resident. If you establish that it is, or suspect that it is, you may want to think carefully about what you're getting in to.

The nearest I've ever gotten to Serbia is a visit to the Czech Republic in 2005, and so I may be out of date in speculating this, but my guess would be that the cost of living on the east coast of the USA would be an order of magnitude higher than it is in Belgrade. Again, I'd suggest researching this carefully, and keeping this in mind in weighing up any offer.

The cost of emigration itself is also not trivial. When I moved from the UK to California in 2013, I reckon that the total costs (including the legal costs and government application fees for permanent resident status following my marriage to a US Citizen, which you may not have if your employer is applying for an H1-B on your behalf) were not far short of $10k. And that was probably on the low side: for example, it was just me going, not a whole family, and I only shipped about a third of the contents of a small apartment.

This could be a wonderful opportunity for you, but I'd suggest doing as much due diligence as possible and having as many of the facts as possible before making a decision. My wife and I took a year and a half to make the final decision as to which one of us was going to emigrate and in which direction, and it was not an easy or straightforward one.

 |  IP: Logged

Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7867
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 09-19-2016 12:31 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In addition to Leo's points, note that most full-time jobs in the US will provide some form of the following benefits:

- health insurance (the cost is generally split between the employer and employee to various degrees, and the employee cost can very widely from employer to employer, as can the options for coverage)
- retirement benefits (generally in the form of employee contributions to a "401(k)" or similar account, sometimes with an employer match)--if you move out of the US at some point in the future, you may or may not be able to take this account with you
- paid vacation time (two weeks per year is typical for a new employee at many companies)

Also, consider if the employer can or will provide the following:

- training
- relocation costs

For a position like what you describe, travel will probably be a major factor as well. Will the company provide a car, or will you be expected to buy your own and keep track of mileage and seek reimbursement from the company (there is a standard figure for this, which is something around $.50/mile)? Some companies tend to nickel-and-dime their employees for travel expenses, while others are more generous.

I have no idea what the typical pay for a position like this would be, but perhaps someone else does. You will also need to research tax rates (the federal government and most states have an income tax, and most states have a sales tax on most retail items).

You will also need to consider exchange rates if you will be converting your existing currency into dollars.

 |  IP: Logged

Aleksandar Obradovic
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 125
From: Belgrade, Serbia
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 09-19-2016 01:10 PM      Profile for Aleksandar Obradovic   Email Aleksandar Obradovic   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
First of all... Leo & Scott thank you guy for those answers...

Basically, company offered me a job with some benefits like relocation plan, med insurance, reimbursements for car (which i have to buy) like gas, tolls, etc.
Company is NY based but area of work will be PA and NJ.

For the beginning I have planned to come alone and leave family behind for few months and then bring them to the USA. What should I expect when it comes to the regular expenses like rent and utilities?

Regarding visas i actually don't know what type will it be (probably in next 2-3 days i will have final offer details).

What should i ask employer in general? What I can ask for? What are salary deductions in general (how many % will be deducted from salary for taxes, med, etc.)? How much money do I need to sustain myself, and how much for the entire family (something like in song "Bear (Bare) necessities"?

 |  IP: Logged

Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6629
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 09-19-2016 01:20 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If you are contemplating bringing your family over, you absolutely need to consult an attorney who specializes in US immigration law. My understanding - and I stress that I am not an immigration attorney, just an immigrant who needed the services of one! - is that an H-1B visa does not necessarily allow you to sponsor family members to live in the US with you, and even if yours does, they would not necessarily have the right to work: only permanent resident status (aka a "green card"), with conditions removed after the two-year probationary period, or full citizenship, allows that automatically. So it may be that were you to move here on a work visa, your family might not even be able to join you at all, except for brief visits.

Also, if you would be required to buy and maintain your own car, especially one that will be doing relatively high mileage, that will be a significant up-front cost, even if you do a lot of your own maintenance (as I know from personal experience, commuting 35k miles a year).

In terms of the specific cost of living in NYC, I can't answer that. But as a general rule, the cost of living in and around the larger coastal "metros" is higher than in the midwest, hence people like me having to live 75 miles from work, because that's the closest you'll find affordable housing. In my case it's not the only reason: we're within walking distance of my wife's workplace, and so we figure that one of us having a monster commute and the other almost none is the least worst option. But thanks to the cost of living, enough of us commute from this area to the LA metro to clog up the three, four-lane freeways running parallel to each other along the Inland Empire every rush hour.

 |  IP: Logged

Aleksandar Obradovic
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 125
From: Belgrade, Serbia
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 09-19-2016 01:42 PM      Profile for Aleksandar Obradovic   Email Aleksandar Obradovic   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That's the main reason I have asked you guys for help. For the cars i have planned to sell one that i have here and then buy some used cars when i come. What is the regular price for some estate car or older pick-up truck (someone have to carry those tools and instruments) [Smile] ? For example i own Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon (estate car) made in 2001. For how much money I can buy something similar in USA?

Regarding living... Does those (service/integrator) companies require from their staff to work in office or I can live somewhere else (like where job is)? I am asking this so I can plan costs of living and where to live (NYC is very expensive as far as I know).

Who pays taxes, insurances, etc. (in my country it is automatically deducted from salary before it comes to my bank account)?

401(k) and any other pension fund is obligatory or optional?

 |  IP: Logged

Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7867
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 09-19-2016 01:59 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Be aware that NY and NJ are among the most expensive states in which to live in the US.

Some questions to ask an employer:

- why is this job available (is it a new position? did the previous employee quit or get fired?)
- if the pay is hourly, is there a minimum number of guaranteed hours per week?
- if the pay is by salary, is there a cap on the number of hours that you will be expected to work?
- is travel time counted as paid time on the job?
- what are the opportunities for advancement?
- would you be expected to be available as an "on call" employee? if so, how much notice would you be given before you would be expected to be available to work? is there an "on call" rotation, or would you need to be potentially available to work at all times? is extra pay made available for time spent "on call"?

As for monthly expenses, figure on (at least) the following:

- rent/mortgage
- renter's insurance/homeowner's insurance
- cost of car (lease/payment/depreciation)
- car maintenance
- gas for car
- car insurance
- car registration and excise tax (yearly)
- parking
- electricity
- heat (may be oil, gas, or electric, depending on building)
- phone/Internet service
- water/sewer
- food
- clothing/laundry
- health insurance
- health care
- entertainment
- contingency
- savings

As a very rough estimate, figure on taking home about 2/3 of your salary after taxes. Then, deduct health insurance premiums from that (they are typically deducted from one's pay by the employer).

Look for online listings for houses and apartments in the area where you want to live to see the approximate costs. Note that location has a huge effect on pricing here. A beautiful house in a bad neighborhood will be worth far less than a mediocre house in a great neighborhood. If buying, consider local property taxes, which will vary by town and city. If renting, find out if the rent includes utilities (electricity, heat, water, etc.) or not. Most rentals will require a commitment to rent for a minimum number of months.

Edit: for cars, look at craigslist and various car web sites to find out what is available. Figure on $20k and up for a new car. Used cars are generally a better deal. Insurance will be higher on some models than others. Also, some cars are easier to get serviced here. Cars from the US manufacturers (GM, Ford, Chrysler) and Honda and Toyota are common and easy to get serviced. It will be harder to find someone to work on some foreign brands and the work will typically be more expensive.

Employers will deduct "estimated tax" from your pay check. You may end up owing more or receiving a refund in the following year when you file your taxes. Retirement savings like 401(k) plans are optional, but generally a good deal if there is an employer match.

And take Leo's advice about meeting with a lawyer.

 |  IP: Logged

Aleksandar Obradovic
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 125
From: Belgrade, Serbia
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 09-19-2016 02:21 PM      Profile for Aleksandar Obradovic   Email Aleksandar Obradovic   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Scott,

I have friends in NYC who live there for a long time and they will help me with finding an accommodation, to start it over, and with those legal stuff.

Like I use to say I'm a technician/engineer and not a lawyer. Lawyers pay us to repair things for them and we are paying them for legal problems/solutions.

Regarding payments...
Is it paid weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or it depends from employer? Should i negotiate gross or net salary?
What should i expect when it comes to numbers?
Do i need to get certified so i can work in this field of work? How much does it cost?
Is there a union which member i have to become?
Is there some minimum hourly wage and how much is it?
By law how many hours of work is the federal minimum?
Overtime rate is exact like hourly or different?
How much overtime is maximum? (From my experience, in this field there is a plenty of overtime and night work)

- Alex

 |  IP: Logged

Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6629
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 09-19-2016 02:33 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Cars - I get the impression that used car prices vary a lot by region. Here in Southern California, cars tend to hold their value a lot more than I was used to in Britain, I suspect because the bodywork simply doesn't rust (very dry climate), and so if you take care of routine maintenance, running a car to half a million miles is entirely possible. For example, when our 1999 Honda Civic with 205k miles on the clock was stolen last year, the insurance company valued it at $4k. In Britain, you'd have trouble giving away a car of that age and mileage (unless it's a restored classic). As a starting point, why not look on autotrader.com for the kind of vehicle you had in mind, on sale within, say, a 50-mile radius of NYC?

As for tax, as Scott points out, there are at least three components: federal income tax (paid to the United States Government), state income tax (paid to the state in which your employer is located; most, but not all states have an income tax) and social security (effectively a government-run pension scheme).

On a regular salary, these are "withheld" (taken from your salary at source, like PAYE in Britain) at the payroll stage. However, unlike in most European countries (in Britain, for example, you only have to file a tax return if you have sources of income other than a regular salary), every "US person" (citizen, legal resident or foreign citizen with business interests in the US) has to file a tax return with the federal government (IRS) and the state in which they live each year. If you have assets in a foreign country, you also have to file a "FINCEN" form listing them. Some people do this themselves, often using software to help you prepare the tax return, e.g. TurboTax, while others hire a "tax preparer" to do it for them. The math is not too complicated if your affairs are relatively simple, but for peace of mind that it's been done right, I'm happy to pay the $150 each year for a professional to do this for me. In terms of my earning power per hour, it would cost me a lot more to figure out how to do it myself.

In terms of where you live, that's really a topic for negotiation between you and your boss. If the sites you'll be servicing are mainly nowhere near your home office, it might not make much sense to live nearby it.

 |  IP: Logged

Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7867
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 09-19-2016 02:40 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Employees usually get paid weekly, bi-weekly. or semi-monthly. This varies by employer and by state, I believe.

You would typically negotiate gross pay with your employer.

No idea on numbers.

Depending on locality, it is possible that you might need to be licensed as an electrician or to do low-voltage electrical work. NYC and PA require that projectionists be licensed, but that likely does not apply to technicians. Licenses are typically issued by individual states. Some states have reciprocity agreements that allow someone licensed in one state to work in another. There is probably a written and/or practical test for such a license, as well as a first-time and recurring annual fee to keep it.

Your work might fall under the electricians' union or the projectionists' union; you would need to find out from your employer if you would be required to join and/or pay for permission to work under the ausipces of either.

The US federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour, which applies to all states. Some states have higher minimum wages set. The pay for a skilled position such as yours should be significantly higher than this.

There is no minimum number of hours per week set by law. By convention (and law in many areas), overtime starts at 40 hours per calendar week and is paid at 1.5x the regular rate. In general, this only applies if you are paid hourly. There may be differences here if your work is covered under a union contract, in which case you should find out what the contract requires. In general, there is no maximum amount of overtime specified by law (except in the case of safety-related jobs, like airline pilots and truck drivers), but employers generally try to limit it in order to control costs. Unless there is a union contract that requires it, there is generally no extra pay for non-overtime night and weekend work.

 |  IP: Logged

Aleksandar Obradovic
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 125
From: Belgrade, Serbia
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 09-19-2016 02:47 PM      Profile for Aleksandar Obradovic   Email Aleksandar Obradovic   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Leo,

In general I've always tried to avoid big cities and I will try to do it also in this case. Pennsylvania and New Jersey are big enough so like you've said there is no point to choose location where to live based on job's especially in cases like mine (field operations). But like I've said this will depend on my future employer requirements.

Can you tell me something about climate? Is it cold, dry, rainy in those states (NY, PA, NJ)? How much is it different from continental (European)?

 |  IP: Logged

Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6629
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 09-19-2016 03:06 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've never lived on the east coast and so can't really answer that. I've made brief visits to Washington DC, Boston/Cambridge, Savannah and Bucksport, ME, and with the exception of Savannah (a lot more humid than I was used to), the weather struck me as very similar to what I'd expect in northern England (where I lived at the time) at the same time of year. Other than to change planes, I haven't managed to get to NYC yet.

During most of the year, the weather in Southern California is totally different from anything you'd find in Europe, except possibly in the extreme south-west, along the Mediterranean coast of Portugal, Spain and Italy. It's very warm and dry, with daytime temperatures in the high 40s of Celsius in August and early September. The winter nights can get surprisingly cold, though: frosts are not unusual, and an occupational hazard for citrus growers (I have three small grapefruit trees in large pots that we were having to haul into the garage overnight throughout much of January).

 |  IP: Logged

Aleksandar Obradovic
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 125
From: Belgrade, Serbia
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 09-19-2016 03:19 PM      Profile for Aleksandar Obradovic   Email Aleksandar Obradovic   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Are there opportunities for advancements in carrier for this type of work and what it can be?
Response times between service company/integrators are defined by contract or there is some regulation for this?
How annoying are customers?
What should I expect when i come on-site?

 |  IP: Logged

Rick Raskin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1068
From: Manassas Virginia
Registered: Jan 2003


 - posted 09-19-2016 03:50 PM      Profile for Rick Raskin   Email Rick Raskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've been to Belgrade and thought the climate there resembled that of state of Florida. You'll find the mid Atlantic states to be somewhat cooler and the New England states can be darn cold in the Winter. Summer temperatures can sometimes be in the 90s F (30s C) all over the East coast.

Something you'll have to get used to is the dreaded SNOW. Drivers go crazy when it snows and commuting can be a nightmare. The media plays up every potential snowstorm like its the end of civilization thus sending waves of panic throughout the populace. Runs on the stores for milk, bread and toilet paper are not uncommon. Of course, it never turns out as bad as the doom and gloom they predict, but just be aware.

In the New York City area you may also have to rent a parking place along with your residence. In some cases the cost of that rental can be very high.

I would also recommend you Google the median income for the area you are considering. That will give you an idea of how to negotiate salary with your prospective employer.

 |  IP: Logged

Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2199
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 09-19-2016 04:04 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just for a quick comparison, here's a map of the MEDIAN income in NYC(2012). As a skilled technician, you should be making much more than the median:
NYC Median Income

Jersey has a high Median income, and probably cost of living to go with it (Wikipedia):
quote:
New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the United States of America, with a per capita income of $35,928 (2012) and a personal per capita income of $50,781 (2010).[1][2] Its median household income is $71,637 (2012) and its median family income is $87,389 (2012), both the second highest in the country.[3]
So, if you are going to be working as a skilled tech in those areas, you should at least be making more than the median.

 |  IP: Logged



All times are Central (GMT -6:00)
This topic comprises 3 pages: 1  2  3 
 
Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic    next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:



Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.3.1.2

The Film-Tech Forums are designed for various members related to the cinema industry to express their opinions, viewpoints and testimonials on various products, services and events based upon speculation, personal knowledge and factual information through use, therefore all views represented here allow no liability upon the publishers of this web site and the owners of said views assume no liability for any ill will resulting from these postings. The posts made here are for educational as well as entertainment purposes and as such anyone viewing this portion of the website must accept these views as statements of the author of that opinion and agrees to release the authors from any and all liability.

© 1999-2018 Film-Tech Cinema Systems, LLC. All rights reserved.