View Full Version : Getting into HVAC
10-12-2006, 05:51 PM
I am interested in pursuing a career in HVAC but don't have any experience. Most of the job postings I find require hands-on experience. What's the best way to get into this field? I know there are online schools out there, but I don't want to invest in one if it won't be enough to help me land a job in the end.
I do have lots of manual labor experience as a mechanic, welder, and machine operator, if that helps any. I am doing sales for now until I find a permanent HVAC position, as that is my long-term career goal.
Any advice from anyone out there?
hummmmm advice ..... well if it were me I would try sleeping my way to the top.
No I cant say I have heard of any guys getting to the top of hvac that way. I do know alot that have sleep their way through the day alot tho.
10-12-2006, 07:41 PM
Think twice about what you are asking?......See if you can do a ride along?
Since you asked nice, we won't break your bubble yet.
10-13-2006, 03:47 PM
Only been in the field two years
try getting some OJT and going to tech school at the same time. It would consume alot of time, but if its what you really want to do then it will be worth it.
10-13-2006, 06:51 PM
hmmm let's see.
i aced my trade school, i aced the EPA test, was hired by a company, scored a 97% at the school they sent me to,
made no major mistakes , or very many small ones,
had to quit because they weren't paying me,
...i have a good idea what i'm doing...
i hear nothing but BS from employers, can't convince any of them to hire me , leave me alone , and let me work.
i can only freaking imagin what it would be like if i told them i didn't even have schooling.
the truth is , you can buy a few HVAC books and give yourself just as good as education as any trade school,
(schools don't really want to give you hands-on experience anyways because it costs money)
things are hard enough with diplomas, i don't think anyone will hire you.
10-28-2006, 03:04 AM
Whats your location and how are you with computers?
10-28-2006, 03:13 AM
I am in California and I am no whiz on a computer but I can get around.
Its true, a lot of "us" employers will not hire anyone without some on the job experience.
Let's see why?
1. I just figured out what it cost me to have a tech in a service vehicle, per hour, let's say for arguments sake $50.00 is what it cost me per hour for you in my van. God forbid it takes you longer than usual to diagnose or fix something, or, the call ends up in a re-call where I have to send someone back..
2. You are representing me and my company. As a customer, would you want a tech coming to your home, charging "you" what it takes to repair a problem, and this tech can't figure it out?
3. OK, you say, put me with another tech in the van, let me ride along with him. I do this for every new hire, about two weeks riding along with each of my techs. What does this cost me?
I don't mean to sound negative, but schooling is a wonderful thing, they tech you the basics, but, in all my years, what I have found is just about everyone out of these HVAC school students is an idiot, maybe to harsh of a word, but, these graduates that I see are there to just do something, as in go to school.
I have seen some of these graduates that didn't know how to hook up a set of refrigerant gauges to a unit, that graduated. I have seen people with all kinds of certifications, diplomas, and licenses that could not diagnose a simple thermostat problem. I too have seen someone with none of the above be a very good tech...
I tell all of my techs, and I speak at a few of these HVAC schools, I tell the students that it is not enough anymore to be technically proficient, you must be:
1. technically knowledgeable, not just in HVAC, but, plumbing, electrical, etc.
2. well groomed, not too many showing piercings, body Oder, etc.
3. Literate, can you communicate to the customer
4. part lawyer, to explain things to the customer and be able to write this down on the service ticket
5. can write well legably, on the service tickets
If you were in my area, I would interview you, and try you out, possibly, but:
There are owners out there that will and do hire techs right out of school.
Remember this saying, if you don't first succeed, try again.
When looking for a job, treat it as a job, meaning, put in 8 hours looking, not an hour today, or 2 hours tomorrow.
Sooner or later you will land one.
The best way to get a job?
Learn from experience. When you put in that resume or job application, or go for that interview, don't make a nuisance of yourself, but in a couple of days, call them back. If you don't get the job, ask them why, so you learn.
HVAC is a very rewarding career. If you are good, you will "always" be in demand, and you will never go hungry.
I worry everyday as any of my techs could leave me at noon, and be working for someone else in an hour.
But, to get to this place, be good and in demand, you will have to come up thru the trenches and learn and get this ojt. Just takes some time.
10-28-2006, 12:49 PM
Arpa, Thank you! That is the best advice I have been given so far.
10-28-2006, 01:09 PM
commercial union or bldg facilities, go union, ask the rep for companies referals that pay fro ongoing training during an apprenticeship.
residential to get some understanding for the first year to two, with school, unless they are willing to train you, and youre comfortable,,
10-28-2006, 07:01 PM
Finding your way into this trade is not that difficult,we have a serious shortage of man power. This is what i would do call a local contractor,someone will hie you and give you a chance.If you show up every day on time and do everything asked of you and do not ***** about it,and spend your own free time in the books you can make it.This is a great trade and you will get out of it what you put into it,if you are fired up about it you can bi pass guys who have been in the trade since the last supper.And last of all hustle move your ass you should not have to be told what to do next.
10-29-2006, 12:42 AM
Find a job as a trainee doing "annual maintenaces", you learn the basic sequence of operations, see a bunch of different furnaces, etc. Then show them, tell them you want to be a service tech, if you do a good job, they'll figure a way to get you some training. Or check out some of the training schools that just do furnace service training.
10-29-2006, 06:20 AM
thanks for the post Arpa.
10-29-2006, 11:01 AM
as you have already heard every contractor and area is differant. i hired a guy 6 weeks ago that had no tech schooling. he worked for me for 4 weeks and in that four weeks he learned several things that already helped me as a contractor. unfortunately on his fourth week he got a DUI and lost his license.
so he lost his job. but he showed enough prospect that i told him to keep studying (he bought some books on ebay) and get your license back and i will hire you back.
as far as the tech schools not offering hands on experience the school i went to split the days. half the day in the classroom and half in the shop/field. they even had an agreement with some local businesses where we would go out and work on their stuff. they just had to buy parts. man i think we broke more than we fixed!!! lol
for me that was invaluable, you just have to check into what you are getting. my school also offered job placement.
Originally posted by wolfstrike
thanks for the post Arpa.
Thanks wolfstrike. There is one more thing that I run into a lot in hiring.
It seems that in today's society, techs want to start at the top making top wages and forgo the OJT, or proving yourself first.
Now I've been in the business long enough to know that their are some owners out there that just act as most of the techs on this forum state, they are only looking out for themselves and to screw the techs. But, on the flipside, there are owners out there that do care and want the best, and pay them as much as they can.
As a tech, when applying for a job, if the company you are applying for only charges, let's say $75 for a resi service call, 20-25 or more an hour for a tech is not out of line.
If this company only charges 50-60 for a resi service call, its hard to justify hiring someone at 20-25 an hour.
You have to do your homework on the company.
Know beforehand so you have an idea what they pay an hour. Know what kind of work they do. Be ready to ask specific questions, about this company, not questions in general.
Nothing worse than when an employer, and we all do, asks you what do you think they should pay you an hour, and you tell them a figure that their top guy doesn't make, shoots the interview, or your application right down the tubes, and you will know as the interviewer will end the interview rather fast, or if it is just the application they are looking at and they see this ungodly salary rate you want, well, the application gets "lost".
I like it better when a prospective employee tells me when I ask this question to start them out at a reasonable hourly rate, based on what their company charges per hour, and to adjust them after a timeframe so they see what you can do. Unless you are super tech, or the owner knows you, you can't ask for a starting wage and get it.
In all my years, no one, employer, is going to start you at a top wage until "you prove yourself". The key is to get in the door and prove yourself.
If you can't get in the door do you really want to even work for this company?
As for techs, and I use this term lightly, are just out of school, be expected to be tested everyday if you are hired, and be prepared to start at the bottom of the pay scale.
As I said earlier, treat the job hunting process as a job in itself, 8 hours a day.
If you are looking, and the one thing that turns applicants off with me is I call them for an interview, and give them a time that I can see them, and "they can't make it at that time?" Makes me wonder if you are serious about working for me at all.
A lot of the bigger companies are asking for a resume. Not just come in a fill out an application as it used to be 25 years ago when I started.
For an example. I have an ad campaign looking for 3 techs that started today. Reply to my cell, or by email.
At last count, I have 47 people responding. Of this 47, I have narrowed it down to 9. Want to know why when I have yet to see anyone in person yet? For the ones that called and left a voice mail. Sorry, I don't speak Spanish, you did not leave a phone number for me to call you back, or honey, can you understand what this guy is saying?
For the emails I received, 9/10 of them told me right off the bat that they can not spell or write coherently, as in so this applicant will not be able to fill out a service ticket accurately or talk to so my customers can understand them.
If you are unsure of yourself, never fill out an application in the employers office. Take it home and fill it out. Do not fill it out on this application paper first. Fill it out on a scrap sheet of paper, then have someone look it over for you, then transfer it to the real application.
Remember, first impressions are what gets you "in the door" to "sell yourself".
If you can not sell yourself to get in the door for that interview, you need to practice on this first.
10-29-2006, 01:46 PM
In California you can talk to someone at one of two unions about apprenticeships. Operating Engineers Union or the Pipe Fitters Union. In the Los Angeles area it's Local 501 for Operating Engineers and Local 250 for Pipe Fitters.
Fortunatey for you here in Calif alot of the community colleges have HVAC and Refrigeration classes. IF you are in the Los Angeles area you can check into Los Angeles Trade Tech which is another publicly owned school.
Training is a key issue in this field and the fact that you are already taking classes might go along way with someone you are trying to talk into hiring you in an entry level position.
One way or another if you want to work in the HVAC field and be good at it you have to pay your dues. Meaning get the training you need and do what you have to do to get that first job and learn what you need to know to be good at it.
Good luck and I hope you make it. If you don't it's only because you didn't want it bad enough.
10-29-2006, 03:00 PM
Just want to say thanks to everyone who has contributed to this post. You all have given me lots of helpful information. When I first posted this I was working but thinking of changing fields. Unfortunately I have lost my job since then, so right now don't have the luxury of going to school or waiting a long time to get hired. I still want to do this as a long term goal but right now will probably end up working in welding or mechanics since those are the fields I am skilled in. I am looking into HVAC as well, and if I am fortunate enough to get an entry job that takes care of the family it would be wonderful. Otherwise this may have to wait a while. I may go to school while working and start that way, but I'm not sure yet. We will see. Anyway, there is lots of great info here that applies to getting any kind of job, interviewing, etc. I appreciate the time you have all taken to post here. Hopefully others will benefit from this as well.
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