Conservation Officer: safeguarding the planet and its creatures

conservationBy Scott best

Do you want to make your province a safer place to live? Do you also love nature? Are you trying to determine the kind of careers that would suit these natural inclinations and interests?

Law enforcement may seem to be at the opposite end of the career spectrum from work in the natural world. A career as a conservation officer, opens the opportunity of combining these interests. Conservation and fishery officers enforce federal and provincial regulations established to protect fish, wildlife and other natural resources. They also collect and relay information on resource management.

Summer employment is a great way to get your feet wet in this type of work. The more experience you have, the better your chance of progressing to more senior positions. Conservation and fishery officers are employed by the two senior governments.

A large number of positions are in rural and northern areas.

To work in that field, you will need to complete a one- to three-year college program in renewable resources management. The governments provides on-the-job training as well as law enforcement and resource management courses. Depending on where you want to work, you may need a Class-5 driver’s licence, pesticide applicator’s licence and explosives licence.

Becoming an Electrician

electricianIf you are colour blind, chances are that a career as a electrician is not for you because wires are colour coded. However, if are good at math, able to focus well, love paying attention to detail, are a methodical and meticulous problem solver, have good hand to eye co-ordibation, believe in following rules, thrive on challenging physical labour and are a good multi-tasker, then maybe you should consider this work.

For one thing, it pays well. The minimum wage for a journeyman electrician under the Construction Wages Act in Manitoba is $31.95 an hour, but many employers pay higher than that – in Ontario, it’s even higher at $37 an hour – it all depends on demand and where the work is needed in each province. Apprentice’s wages are tied to the journeyman rate. In Manitoba, a first year apprentice might earn 13.16 per hour, but a fourth year apprentice will be pulling in $26.32.

The future for electricians is also very bright. Demand in the U.S. is predicted to grow 900% (labour study by the State of Colorado 2009) over the next few years as electrical contractors become energy contractors thanks to the emphasis on green construction. While this trend is being mandated by governments, contractors and developers also see the advantages in constructing buildings with lower operating costs.

Demand is also being driven by the trend toward electric cars – some American jurisdictions are requiring parking lots to be refitted with plug-ins to accommodate these new vehicles.

In Canada, a number of provinces are looking at banning incandescent light bulbs, just another indication of the trend toward green construction. Communications growth including video streaming is continuing to fuel demand for the installation of coaxial and fibre optic cables for high speed Internet. Demand for electricians with skills in data voice and video wiring is expected to grow 12% by 2018. Robotics and the automated manufacturing process is also driving demand. This new world of energy will want recent electrician grads with a knowledge of solar panels, wind power and biomass.

Being an electrician is not for the weak at heart. It’s a tough, demanding job that demands good physical endurance and dexterity. You may find yourself working in inclement weather under difficult conditions, on your feet for hours in an aerial basket in high winds and rain or freezing cold, in constant danger of electrical shock. Many times you will be hot, dirty, wet or cold. In addition to electric shock you are subject to falling from scaffolding, to burns and cuts and you may have to travel to distant job sites.

If all this hasn’t discouraged you, then you are a likely candidate and here’s how you go about getting to your goal.
You need anywhere from grade 10 to grade 12 depending on where you are living. The IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) demands grade 12  or equivalent  with math 405 or 300, physics 40 or 300 and English 40 or 300/301 from its apprentices.

Apprenticeship entails working with or under a journeyman as well as attending classes to learn trade theory. You will need to be able to read blueprints and work with computerized tools.

Apprenticeships last four to five years and you have to find an employer who is willing to work with you through your apprenticeship. Manitoba Hydro often looks for apprentices.

In Manitoba the course is four years or 1800 hours per level. In Ontario and through the union it is five years. You can begin your apprenticeship while you are still in highschool and are 16 years of age.

If you are older and do not have all the above qualifications, you may still qualify by going through a prior learning assessment program which will take into account all prior experience and trade related activity or training.

There are very many job opportunities in the electrical trades. Everything from home construction, maintenance and renovation to work on highrises, in the oilfields, on hydro projects and in industrial settings. Electricians also have the option of setting up shop for themselves, so if you are an entrepreneur at heart, your final options may be unlimited.

Keeping the peace in the community

policeBy Scott Best

Serving your community, making your province a safer place to live, dealing with challenging situations, preventing crimes from being committed—these objectives and more can be pursued with a career in law enforcement. Jobs in this field are as varied as they are interesting. You could have a career as a police officer, correctional officer, security guard or private investigator and there are many additional jobs to choose from. Law enforcement can be demanding, but few careers provide as much satisfaction and the ability to make a difference in the community.

Police Officer
Police officers perform diverse duties, ranging from enforcing the law and apprehending criminals to promoting traffic safety and resolving domestic disputes. They also provide testimony in court, prepare reports, assist victims of crime and work with community groups. Because officers maintain law and order and work with a wide variety of people, honesty and integrity, ethics and good judgment, patience and intelligence, good listening and observation skills are all essential for police work, or any type of law enforcement for that matter.

In Canada, police officers work for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as well as provincial, municipal or First Nation police services. (They are also attached to the defence department and a few private companies, such as CN and CP railroads.)

To be considered for a job with a police force, you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, know English or French and have a high school diploma. You may not be required to have a post-secondary degree or diploma, but education in law and security or the social sciences can increase your chance of being accepted. You must also be physically fit, meet minimum vision and hearing requirements and be in good health. You’ll likely be asked to provide character references and complete some type of psychological testing. Prospective police officers cannot have any criminal convictions or charges pending before the courts. You will also need a valid driver’s licence and a good driving record. The minimum age for applying can be anywhere from 18 to 21.

Following induction, officer recruits complete a basic training program made up of classroom lectures and field training, lasting from three to nine months. If you’re training to be an RCMP officer, you must be willing to relocate to any urban or rural detachment in Canada. With few exceptions, new RCMP officers aren’t posted to Quebec or Ontario.
A municipal police officer starts out as a patroller or constable in a mid-sized municipality, and may move to a similar position in a larger police force, and then to detective or investigative work. Extensive experience gives some police officers access to inspector, chief inspector or commissioned officer positions leading a military unit.

The outlook for this occupation over the next few years varies depending on the province. The number of jobs being created is below average in British Columbia, Alberta and the Atlantic provinces, well above average in Saskatchewan, good for Manitoba and the Yukon Territory (which means the forces are actively recruiting officers) and average for Ontario and Quebec. On a national level, turnover is expected to increase over the next few years, especially for the RCMP, as members of the baby boom generation retire.

Correctional Officer
Correctional officers guard prisoners or detainees and keep order in correctional institutions. If you have the type of character that’s well suited for police work, you may also do well in this type of position.

Correctional officers in Canada are employed by the provincial and federal governments. To work in corrections for the federal government, you must have a valid driver’s license, pass a medical exam — the correctional officer physical abilities test — as well as security clearance requirements, such as fingerprinting. You’ll also need a high school diploma, along with CPR, automated external defibrillator, and first aid certification. Post-secondary education in correctional services, criminal justice, police studies or the social sciences is recommended, and work experience with people in crisis is considered an asset.

When you apply, your skills and abilities are assessed in an interview. If it’s felt that a correctional officer position is right for you, you’re invited to attend Correctional Services Canada’s correctional training program. You will usually be required as well to complete a basic training course to work for provincial or territorial institutions.

Correctional officers are in particularly high demand in British Columbia because new jobs are being created as new facilities are being built and there’s a shortage of officers in the northern part of the province.

Security guards and private investigators
Security guards protect property against theft or vandalism, control access to businesses, maintain order and enforce regulations at public events and businesses. They are hired by private security agencies, retail stores, museums, industrial facilities and other organizations. Private investigators conduct investigations to find missing persons, obtain information, for use in civil or criminal courts or for other purposes. They may also conduct polygraph — lie detector — tests for clients.

To work as a security guard in any province, or the Yukon Territory, you must be licensed by the department of justice and, in most provinces, complete a training course. You will also need a licence to carry firearms if that is part of your job. Employers usually require a high school diploma and may want a college diploma in law and security or police technology.The licensing process for private investigators is often the same or similar to that which prospective security guards must go through. Private investigators are employed by investigation companies and security agencies, which must be licensed by the provincial justice department. Some investigators start their own agencies and must apply for both business and individual licences.

In recent years, electronic surveillance equipment has replaced traditional security jobs, but there is more demand for security personnel in areas such as public transportation, shopping centres, parking lots and foot patrol, in larger urban centres. Security guards and private investigators are both high-turnover occupations. Job opportunities become available as current employees leave for other jobs, self-employment or retirement.

Turning adolescents into fiscally smart adults

AdolescentsAs children blossom into young men and women, most insist on planning and running their own lives. Parents worry about all the basic essentials for their kids’ independent living, like housing, eating properly, staying warm, being careful at night and more. But most parents forget to teach young people one of the most important lessons of all – financial responsibility. The resulting turmoil can spell disaster.

Consider this: The average young adult amasses $45,000 in debt by the time they turn 29, according to a recent report by a U.S. bank.

“This generation of 20-somethings was raised during an economically-thriving period,” says financial expert Mark Hansen, author of Success 101 for Teens. “Undisciplined spending habits, student and car loans, and a tough job market have stymied their financial growth. Perhaps the worst culprit is financial ignorance, but we can count this as a lesson for future 20-somethings.”

For young people, organizing finances can be intimidating to the point of prohibitive, he says.

“We need to have a curriculum in schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade, that ensures our kids graduate with financially literacy,” says Hansen. “From balancing a checkbook to understanding what it means to pay – and earn – interest, kids need basic money management skills to survive in the world, and most aren’t getting them.”

Hansen says all teens should know and practice so they can control their financial destinies:

• Saving for dreams – the three-envelope method: Use the first envelope for your day-to-day expenses: gas or lunch money. Pause before blowing this money at the movie theater or a fast-food restaurant. Envelope No. 2 is for short-term goals, which might be clothing or a new laptop. The third envelope is for long-term goals such as a car, college or a “future millionaire club” fund.

• How to create a budget: A budget lets us know what’s possible, and not possible, with money. There are six steps to creating a budget. 1. List all of your expenses. 2. List all income. 3. List monthly expenses. 4. Add up these lists separately. 5. Tweak your budget so you can meet your expenses with money left over for savings. 6. Review your budget every week.

• How to set and follow through on goals: First, figure out what your current finances are, then determine what they will be in the future — one year out, then two years out, then four years later, etc. How will you get to your one- or two-year goal? You need a plan, and most of the time that means either earning more money, spending less, or a combination of the two. Finally, you have to stick to your plan in order for it to work.

• Understanding interest rates, such as credit cards: Interest is a fee paid for using someone else’s money. Simple interest is straightforward: 5 percent accrued in your bank account with $100 yields $5 in interest at the end of the year. Compound interest, however, means ever-increasing amounts. This is crucial to understanding debt you may take on from lenders. Know what you are borrowing, and the terms. Just as your money can work for you in a bank account, money borrowed can work against you if it is not paid back in a timely manner. Debt can grow at an alarming rate.

• How to write checks and balance a checkbook: These days, it’s easier than ever to review accounts online, which automatically tracks exchanges. However, banks do make mistakes, which is why it’s wise to track your accounts independently. Ask. Don’t be embarrassed. Banks are putting a premium on service and want to establish a positive relationship with young customers.  If you have a question, speak to someone at the bank. As you take control of your money, you’ll also take control of your life.

About Mark Hansen
A successful businessman, a former Palm Beach County, Fla., elected school board member and motivational speaker, Mark has dedicated his life to helping young people overcome obstacles and deal with the challenges of daily living. Struck by a car and nearly killed as a child, Mark fought back through positive actions and reactions to all that he had to overcome. As a result, he relates to teens in a very special way. Through his books, “Success 101 for Teens: Dollars and Sense for a Winning Financial Life,” and seminars, Mark Hansen is driven to make an impact on teens and young adults and to empower them to rise above and triumph over life’s obstacles.

Keeping watch on Hackers

hackerBy Scott Best

With roughly 3.5 million Canadians using mobile banking apps, mobile security company McAfee says the amount of malicious software threatening mobile platforms is growing, too. But smartphone users in Canada aren’t that vulnerable to attack . . . yet.

“In the first quarter of 2012, we had already detected eight million new PC malware samples, showing that malware authors are continuing their unrelenting development of new malware,” says Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. “The same skills and techniques that were sharpened on the PC platform are increasingly being extended to other platforms, such as mobile and Mac; as more homes and businesses use these platforms the attacks will spread, which is why all users, no matter what their platforms, should take security and online safety precautions.”

According to the Toronto-based Solutions Research Group, less than 10 per cent of the population was using a smartphone in 2007. Thanks to the iPhone’s rise in popularity, there are now over 10 million smartphone users in Canada.

Doug Cooke, director of sales engineering for McAfee Canada, says because smartphones and other mobile devices are still so new, users aren’t thinking about security.

“With new toys, you’re mainly concerned with playing with that new toy, not thinking about security,” says Cooke. “Security is something you think about down the road.”

McAfee researchers collected 8,000 new mobile malware samples in the first quarter of 2012, compared to a year ago when there was almost no malware targeting mobile devices. In that period, they colleted nearly 7,000 samples of malware meant for the android platform, a 1,200 per cent increase from the number collected by December of last year.
“The primary reason is that Apple is doing a much better job in terms of monitoring the applications that get into their world,” says Cooke. “The marketplace in the android environment, it’s a little bit more of the wild west. There’s numerous places where you can get apps for the android.”

Mechanisms used by mobile hackers are nowhere near as sophisticated as those targeting PCs, but as the number of users increase, so will the amount of malware. Mobile banking is also on the rise, and Cooke says hackers particularly seek out opportunities to access financial information.

“So much of what the malware writers are trying to do is to be on your system but stealth, so they can gather information about your mobile device and send it out to the Internet so someone can use it.”

Cooke says the main thing hackers are able to accomplish with mobile devices is keystroke logging. If a financial transaction is being completed on a mobile device, the user often enters a personal information number to validate it. A hacker can log the user’s keystrokes, send the pin number to a command and control server, and gain access to the user’s mobile banking account.  Cooke says, however, he’s not aware of any Canadian mobile banking apps being attacked in that way.

“There’s a lot of this activity in Asia, a little bit in the United States, but not much in Canada because we don’t have the same level of transaction activity happening through mobile devices…yet.”