View Full Version : Starting career at 40 yrs old?
12-20-2006, 04:50 PM
I've floundered around with college and several types of jobs for a long time.
I am now taking care of my parents. Dad has cancer and mom had a stroke.
I need a stable job for the future. I've been thinking about HVAC.
Yes I am 40 years old. I have had several types of construction jobs in the past and think I could learn this trade.
Here is the link of the program I am thinking of taking:
There is also an union apprenticeship program a littler farther away also.
What do you guys think? Should I jump in or think of something else.
12-20-2006, 06:51 PM
Hey there. It's not a bad gig despite your age if you realize the fact you have to be in fairly decent condition to set up and climb ladders sometimes working in awkward positions and carrying an assortment of equipment with you
and in the worse possible weather. It's hard to describe the job except the fact You'll never be bored. If you're really going for it it's a job you have to dive in 110%. I recommend stopping by a supply house or two and ask around some of the tech's how they got their start. There should be a few here too toread and answeryour inquiry. I seen by reading the info about the school it is in Ohio. I'm originally from southern Ohio. Going there this Christmas to visit my mom. Good luck.
12-20-2006, 08:19 PM
40 is not too old!
Please consider the hours, weather, ladders, kneeling,on-call etc.
This is not a bad gig, I am 41 and have been doing this for 20 years.
This year I worked 2,450 hours.
Then add 10 hours a week for drive time.
That is another 520 hours.
from april to september I worked every saturday 8-10 hours.
on call 7 days at a time all year.
There is usually classes and training.
I went to class 4 hours a nite 2 nites a week for 26 weeks.
Then went to about 12-15 clinics about 3-4 hours each.and I have an rses meeting once a month for 3 hours.
Got stitches 3 times this year.
I spend a couple hours every saturday cleaning my van.
This is not a part time job.
12-20-2006, 11:06 PM
Two years ago after being laid off, I took the money they were offering for school and decided to get an A.A.S. in HVAC/R. This is soooo far from what I was doing;however, I've always been a "hands-on" kind of girl. I'm now 40 years old, about to graduate, have already obtained my HVAC/R certificate, and love every minute of this. After having obtained a B.S. years ago, I wish I would have gone straight to trade school or juco. I believe I was meant for this kind of work.
Hope everything works out well for you.
12-20-2006, 11:50 PM
Thank you so much for your replies!!!
I'm in a terrible situation and I'm not sure what to do.
I could try to finish my degree but that would take way too long.
This is why i'm thinking of a trade.
I hope I can find a company that will hire me as a helper while i'm in school.
I'll guess i'll have to start talking to the local companies and see what they say.
12-21-2006, 09:18 AM
I started out as a helper 12 years ago when I was 35. They were actually looking for someone older since many of the younger guys never seemed to last. I got all the crap jobs at first, insulating duct, floorman supporting the install crews, tool carrier etc. I always kept a positive attitude and learned as much as I could. Within 1 year I was a lead installer and within 2 years a serviceman. I got all my requirements for my state HVAC contractor license and passed the test just after I turned 40.
It turned out well for me since I now run my own company although I cannot lift anything heavy any longer (herniated disc in lower back from heavy lifting), my knees are shot and have some lung damage due to my stupidity working in dusty attics without a dust mask. If you're fit then this a great career choice (cannot outsource it to Pakistan) and you are only limited by your own desire for learning and knowledge. Good luck to you.
12-22-2006, 04:49 AM
your not alone , i went to school with several people around the age of 40.
the only thing is , this trade won't most likely will not start you off a decent wage.
but anything is possible, you might find connections through construction.
12-22-2006, 12:42 PM
Like you, I started over a little late. I'm into my 2nd year and love it.
Being older gives you several advantages. You probably understand that the biggest muscle in your body is your brain. You also have less to prove by doing stupid physical stuff that'll get you injured. Be aware of your limitations, and work around them. Always have a good attitude and be willing to work.
If you go the school route, immerse yourself in it - you've got one shot at it, so pack away all the knowledge you can. You WILL use it later.
If you just go get hired, teach yourself all you can from what you seen on the job. This means studying every night that you can.
In my area, the union has the best benefits and union shops do most of the big commercial work. I'd go that route in a heartbeat.
As far as stability, many companies hire anybody with a pulse for the summer and layoff people when things slow down. I think commercial is a little steadier. You WILL work your b*tt off in the summer, so plan on it...you may need to have some backup caregivers lined up for the busy season.
HVAC is fascinating because it utilizes several disciplines (plumbing, electrical, sheetmetal), and is so very broad a field.
12-22-2006, 01:43 PM
Thanks for the input!!!
Commercial or residential was my next question.
I'm thinking if I go with the JVS school found in the link in my first post I would be leaning mostly residential:
If I go with the apprentiship program here:
http://www.nocabc.com/ i'm thinking this would concentrate more on commercial.
Click the "workforce development link"
12-22-2006, 03:39 PM
I got lucky and fell into a job that is 99.95% commercial. I have not had to crawl under houses (critters & mold) and I haven't had to spend a lot of time in hot attics.
I don't mind climbing ladders, although it does get a bit hot on the rooftops, and I buy a lot of sunscreen and a new boonie hat each year.
My tech school program was a residential service program, but we had a good grounding in three-phase and covered semi-hermetics. We also had a walk-in freezer to play with.
I'm a geek, so I'm happiest when I'm learning new stuff. I'd pick commercial for that reason....see more, do more, learn more. But you should decide based on your own interests and talents. Texas Cooler is right about outsourcing. I was in IT for a while & saw it up close. I vowed to do something hands-on because of that experience.
The school link didn't work for me...I'll try again later. Check out the school's reputation...some of them are a waste of time. If that checks out, check out their lab & talk to the instructors. We had a good variety of pretty new equipment and a nice geothermal unit.
To be thorough, check out the rep of the union school as well.
Again, good luck-
12-22-2006, 04:55 PM
I have been in this industry for almost 30 years and it's done alright by me.
I'm 54/ in 2007:D
Sure there are sometimes that you have to do some hard work and there are sometimes there is not very much to do. Just get in there and learn all you can in school and then try and find quality company and good technician that can give you a helping hand when you need it.
Just remember, fresh out of school you won't be making top wages it takes some time and experience before you can get $$$.:rolleyes:
12-23-2006, 03:22 PM
Sounds like a great idea. If you have been in the construction trades the work may actually be easier on the bod for you.
You may want to take a job as a maintenence man in a big complex that has alot of furnaces and AC units. You could be their "high tech handyman" for awhile-fixing their electrical appliances, washers, dryers, dishwashers, disposals, and doing the minor plumbing also. Although these are not directly related to hvac, it will help you to gain self confidence and also help you to overcome any fears you may have about soldering, electricity,etc. and it will keep you busy enough to avoid painting and drywall repair.
Some places will even offer you a place to live just to have you around to bother at midnight.
Also, as you gain more skill and confidence you will begin to get a reputation around town and you can get some pretty good paying side work to help take care of your mom and dad.
There are alot of complexes that would love to have a good clean cut steady man around to keep the tenants happy. You'll be worth your weight in gold and on your way in the best of all trades.
And Good Luck.
12-23-2006, 05:45 PM
Forty years is too old to start up, Iam very glad for the guys who don't agree wiyh me, the truth is that most of the guys above forty are trying to find the job in-house, because it is little bit less heavy lifting and stress. But they have this luxury becouse several years in the trade and experience, you don't. My advice in forty you will do a lot better in some kind of medical related field.
12-23-2006, 06:43 PM
I turned forty this past summer and swore it was going to be my last working in the field. We do residential and light commercial and I've got to give props to those of you who work in commercial/industrial shops because I have witnessed how incredibely hard you guys work. Having been our service mngr for the last five years I have had the opprotunity to turn down work ,large commercial, that I wouldn't wish on anybody. I wore out my back, had surgery on one knee twice and have recently developed a hellish problem with the heel in my right foot. Serendipity stepped in thankfully and I will be taking the general manager position at out company which means climate controled office for the rest of my career. If not for this I would be looking to make a career change.
12-23-2006, 07:39 PM
Forty-nine and using my little convertible dolly from Graingers to load up the torch,tanks , scale, 30lb'er,vac pump, and a FEW tools.
Lent it out only once and when returned, I sang, Satchmo style, "Hello Dolly- It's so nice to have you back where you belong..."
No one holds it against me...
12-24-2006, 03:42 PM
One of the benefits of being older is that (hopefully!) some of the "young, dumb & bulletproof" complex has worn off.
I learned some of that lesson lifting weights...trying to keep up with a friend who is bigger and stouter than I am. Tendinitis put me out of action within about two weeks.
I have always been a little more safety-conscious than most, probably because longevity runs in my family...my Mom's people (women AND men) live well into their 90's. So I've never wanted to give myself an injury that I'd be stuck with, at minimum, 30-40 years. You only get one back, and most repairs on it are painful and not very successful, LOL.
I use a hand truck when I need to. I use the CLC tool backpack so I have both hands on the ladder. The ladder is anchored at the top. And I use rope to bring up anything else I need. Simple stuff, but sometimes it requires just a bit of thinking.
I do need to use the winter to lose some weight and get into better shape for the peak of summer...but that's probably true for a lot of us-
01-12-2007, 08:26 PM
40 aint bad . kids today do not want to enter the trades and have to work for a living. Tool bags 80 to 120 lbs roofs too hot or too cold and kids just will not put in the work required to be a good tech. I can teach almost anyone how to work on equipment . I cannot teach them how to WORK.
01-12-2007, 09:19 PM
Good luck with your new start, I have been doing this for 32 years , In my younger days, I was filled with vinegar, could not wait to get to work,.
I will say this, know 2 jobs have ever been the same, and It beats sitting in a office, looking at a computer screen all day.
Check this out, it was posted today'
The only problem I have is, That when I was learning the TRADE the old timers were in demand , for there skill and knowledge.
Today as a old timer with all the skill and knowledge, I find Age Discrimination, Most company look at old timers as a liability, not a asset!!!
It seems that the bottom line, is all that counts...Like the post said http://bestsmileys.com/money/2.gif
01-13-2007, 12:30 AM
I will turn 51 this summer and have been in the LP-Gas, plumbing, and hvac industries for about 23 years. I started out as a plumbers helper and worked my way up the ladder until I finally ended up in sales, estimating, and management. After 5 years of doing the sales, estimating, and management deal, working 12 to 14 hours per day, will no real vacations, I was burnt out and left the industry for about 7 1/2 years (big mistake - but hindsight is 20/20). About 2 years ago I got the opportunity to re-enter the industry working for a primarly residential plumbing, heating, and cooling contractor, taking care of the inventory and service departments and doing much of the dispatching.
I have been invloved in both the residential and commercial side of the business and my advice to you would be to seriously consider entering the residential service side of the business at your age.
In my opinion if you are in good physical condition now and work smart you should be able to spend the next 25 years doing residential service. In my past experience, aside from residential install work, residential service should not be to hard on you physically. With that being said, I would advise getting some install experience as it will make you a better service tech.
In residential service you don't have to do nearly as much climbing of ladders with heavy tool bags and equipment. There will be multiple trips in and out of basements and probably some crawl spaces and attics, but I think this is easier on us older people than the climbing and being out in the elements that the commercial service work requires much of the time.
One drawback of residential service work is that at times you will have to deal with difficult homeowners, but this gets easier with experience.
Sorry for getting so long winded with this post, but one last piece of advice. If you decide to go into the HVAC field, try to search out a company that might hire you part time while in school, and that might be willing to be a mentor to you, and bring you on full time when school is finished.
If you wish you can contact me through my e-mail address in my profile and I would be glad to answer any questions you might have about the industry.
Best of luck with what ever you decide to do.
01-13-2007, 10:04 PM
40 is OK I went to school for this HVAC in 2001 when I was also 40 years old.
also had a back round with electrical went to school back in 1981 for a slot machine, video games back then was pacman and juke boxes, pinball all that good stuff we would fix boards replace chips or diodes resisters etc.
now in this day and age boards are small and cheap just take em out and replace em.
should try to find a good 6 hr a day corse for a good solid year learn it all
get some good hands on and once u finish school try to read up on everything to stay on top of your game.
right now the heating and air for residentail has been slow do to the warmer then normal weather.
commercail refrigeration have not did any reading on that since Lincoln tech school, think they are bussy all the time
01-14-2007, 03:36 PM
right now the heating and air for residentail has been slow do to the warmer then normal weather.
commercail refrigeration have not did any reading on that since Lincoln tech school, think they are bussy all the time[/QUOTE]
Maybe where you are but, the first week of January was the only slow time we have had , last year in Texas was the hotest on record.
You will need to be able to handle the heat if you work in Texas..:D
01-14-2007, 04:32 PM
Constuction is a "peice-work" gig. HVAC/R is a situation where being thorough is where the money's at. Some may find the shift in mind-set tough. Also, if you're trying to tend your folks, the hours may cause you problems. In this industry, quittin' time is whenever the phone stops ringing. Not at all uncommon to pull into your driveway at midnight. Having said that, I'm 43 and this is a second trade for me. I should've done this years ago....:)
01-14-2007, 06:22 PM
Im 48 & have been doing this since 1985 (before that I was an underground coal miner, so confined spaces & dirty conditions are no issue with me). If you are in good shape, it shouldn't be a problem, I'm out in the field every day, and yes I do get a sore back & knees. But, if you want a recession proof career, enter this profession as a service tech. Be prepared for some long hours when it's above 90F or below freezing, though. It would be easier (from a technical standpoint if you started out on the residential side of the business,
01-14-2007, 06:51 PM
if you want a recession proof career, enter this profession as a service tech.
thats a very good point. if the economy takes a big nose dive people will be far more willing to spend $ repairing vs more $ replacing equipment.
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