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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    5

    Looking to enter the field

    Hello everyone. Been lurking on the forums the past couple days doing some searching and figured Id register and post some questions.

    Im in my mid 30s and looking for a change and am considering entering the HVACR field, preferably the commercial side of it. I have no prior experience in any sort of trade or construction work. So please bear with me if my questions sound stupid.

    I did some searching on here and see various routes into this trade. As far as unions go, are they likely to select someone a little older with no background in the trade at all? I understand they have the 5 year apprentice programs but do they prefer to admit people into the apprentice program with at least some experience and/or schooling? I understand Id be starting off at the bottom no matter where I go, union or not, but Im just trying to understand the process. Also, which unions are involved in this trade? I know the steamfitters union is, but what are the other ones?

    Ive also thought about entering the HVAC program at the local community college. Seems the opinion on here is very mixed about going this route. Again, I understand Id be starting at the bottom once I got out of school but I also dont want to spend the money and time on school and then make 9 bucks an hour for the next 3 years.

    Any tips/info appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    N.E. Indiana
    Posts
    879
    If you are not willing to start out at the bottom, HVAC isn't for you....

    I am your age. I am taking college. I expect to be nearer of the bottom of the scale when I actually get a job in HVAC.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Sturbridge, MA
    Posts
    103
    Im your age, in a 1 year trade school program and i will be making bottom scale money when i get out. I figure about $12 an hour for at least a few months. The good thing about hvac is if you know your stuff you rise very quickly. Once you hit 3-5 years experience you can name your price.
    I can only take the low paying job at first because i have a very good paying part time job. If i didnt have that part time job i wouldnt even consider it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Near Chicago, IL
    Posts
    3,317
    Quote Originally Posted by turbine53 View Post
    I did some searching on here and see various routes into this trade. As far as unions go, are they likely to select someone a little older with no background in the trade at all? I understand they have the 5 year apprentice programs but do they prefer to admit people into the apprentice program with at least some experience and/or schooling? I understand Id be starting off at the bottom no matter where I go, union or not, but Im just trying to understand the process. Also, which unions are involved in this trade? I know the steamfitters union is, but what are the other ones?
    Around here, the unions all have some kind of aptitude test.

    Some accept applications year round, others only once per year.

    After the application, you take your test.

    Your score determines your place in the "outsider" pecking order. Union contractors have the right to sponsor someone into the apprenticeship program, and they may not need to take a test. These people get priority over you.

    The union hall will not discriminate against your age, but employers can. Only gets worse as you get older.

    You need to call around and find out what unions are in your location, and find out when their test dates and requirements are. For a couple around here, you are out of luck until next year.

    Good Luck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Kansas City, Kansas, United States
    Posts
    13,833
    great career!
    been great to me!

    not like some jobs though, 2 year tech school to make $8-12 an hour!
    then you need to spend thousands on tools!

    not a good NEW career if you are in a financial bind!
    I WILL SELL WORK,GENERATE BUSINESS, GO GET NEW CUSTOMERS!
    YOU SHUT THE HELL UP AND QUIT RUNNING YOUR MOUTH!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally Posted by freemind View Post
    If you are not willing to start out at the bottom, HVAC isn't for you....

    I am your age. I am taking college. I expect to be nearer of the bottom of the scale when I actually get a job in HVAC.
    I think I mentioned twice in my post that I expect to start at the bottom. I'm not worried about making low pay to start off. I am worried about being at that level for multiple years.

    Anyways, one thing that worries me a little is I'm not really seeing any jobs out there for anyone with less than 3-5 years experience. Do most companies generally not advertise for entry level positions?

    Quote Originally Posted by supertek65 View Post
    great career!
    been great to me!

    not like some jobs though, 2 year tech school to make $8-12 an hour!
    then you need to spend thousands on tools!

    not a good NEW career if you are in a financial bind!
    That brings up another question. I see some colleges have a 2 year associates program and others are just two semesters and you get a certificate. Any insight on that?

    Thanks!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    N.E. Indiana
    Posts
    879
    Quote Originally Posted by turbine53 View Post
    I think I mentioned twice in my post that I expect to start at the bottom. I'm not worried about making low pay to start off. I am worried about being at that level for multiple years.

    Anyways, one thing that worries me a little is I'm not really seeing any jobs out there for anyone with less than 3-5 years experience. Do most companies generally not advertise for entry level positions?



    Thanks!

    Yes, but you also said this:
    but I also dont want to spend the money and time on school and then make 9 bucks an hour for the next 3 years.
    Do you think because you are mid thirties that they will pitty you and pay you what a 5 year tech makes? You are gonna start your new career, just like the 20 year old kid fresh outta school. You will likely progress at the same rate as they will. Especially if you have no other skills to bring to the table, like sheet metal work, or experience in electrical.

    You will be expected to provide a certain amount of tools. You likely will be expected to get more education and training, perhaps at your expense. Probably be doing the grunt work, and dig lots of ditches too.

    If you are ready for all that, like I am, then great. If not, or you have alot of "financial responsibilities", then maybe it isn't for you. You just aren't gonna make alot of money your first >5 but will likely be expected to spend alot of your own money.

    And, from what I can tell from some of the posts from some of the employers here, you may not run into a good boss, your first job or two.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sherman, TX
    Posts
    9,441
    I start guys off the street between $10-12, based on my gut feeling when I talk to them. If they pan out after the first summer, I send them to the local community college program (Fundy 1&2) on my dime, books included.

    But no, I do not pay them clock time while they're in class.

    If you're starting from scratch, I'll typically buy you your first bag of tools....based on the school list. If you leave before a year is up, the tools stay with me.

    In the meantime, you'll get basic technical training in house, both from me, and my Dad. (He looks like Einstein on Acid, but he's brilliant!)

    Do I expect a lot? Yes. I expect you to show up on time in the morning, bathed and shaved, and in clean clothes. (I provide the shirts).

    I expect you to do what you're asked, and if you don't know how, ASK....and you will be shown.

    When it's apparent that you do NOT know what you're doing....and we step in to correct you, do NOT cop an attitude. We are correcting you for YOUR good, OUR good, and OUR CUSTOMER's good......

    When we do teach you, you will discover that many things in the trade are they way they are ON PURPOSE.....not by accident. There is a reason that metal duct wyes come in the sizes they do. Chopping a hole in the side of a 12 inch duct run with your "reds" to tap in a 6 inch is not acceptable at my shop. I don't care if you did it that way last summer at ABC.....you ain't doin' it here.

    We do have fun. We try every day to all go to lunch together. Our office gal is nicknamed "The Snarky Princess"....and trust me, she can handle any crap you give her, and dish it right back.

    There are shops out there like ours. Find one. Don't fall in with the shops that shun technical skills in favor of hustling new equipment. Hustling new equipment all day is great for your bosses bottom line, but you'll never become the kind of tech you thought you wanted to be when you first got into the trade.

    Good Luck !!
    Technical incompetence is NOT a sales tool....

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally Posted by freemind View Post
    Yes, but you also said this:


    Do you think because you are mid thirties that they will pitty you and pay you what a 5 year tech makes? You are gonna start your new career, just like the 20 year old kid fresh outta school. You will likely progress at the same rate as they will. Especially if you have no other skills to bring to the table, like sheet metal work, or experience in electrical.

    You will be expected to provide a certain amount of tools. You likely will be expected to get more education and training, perhaps at your expense. Probably be doing the grunt work, and dig lots of ditches too.

    If you are ready for all that, like I am, then great. If not, or you have alot of "financial responsibilities", then maybe it isn't for you. You just aren't gonna make alot of money your first >5 but will likely be expected to spend alot of your own money.

    And, from what I can tell from some of the posts from some of the employers here, you may not run into a good boss, your first job or two.
    You're misunderstanding me. I NEVER even considered since I'm in my 30's, I expect more pay. Again, I know I'll start at the bottom. And again, all I was worried about was how long the very low pay would last, that's all.
    I've been making "low pay" for many, many years now in my current field so I'm used to it, lol. Good luck with school and thanks for the info!

    Quote Originally Posted by John Markl View Post
    I start guys off the street between $10-12, based on my gut feeling when I talk to them. If they pan out after the first summer, I send them to the local community college program (Fundy 1&2) on my dime, books included.

    But no, I do not pay them clock time while they're in class.

    If you're starting from scratch, I'll typically buy you your first bag of tools....based on the school list. If you leave before a year is up, the tools stay with me.

    In the meantime, you'll get basic technical training in house, both from me, and my Dad. (He looks like Einstein on Acid, but he's brilliant!)

    Do I expect a lot? Yes. I expect you to show up on time in the morning, bathed and shaved, and in clean clothes. (I provide the shirts).

    I expect you to do what you're asked, and if you don't know how, ASK....and you will be shown.

    When it's apparent that you do NOT know what you're doing....and we step in to correct you, do NOT cop an attitude. We are correcting you for YOUR good, OUR good, and OUR CUSTOMER's good......

    When we do teach you, you will discover that many things in the trade are they way they are ON PURPOSE.....not by accident. There is a reason that metal duct wyes come in the sizes they do. Chopping a hole in the side of a 12 inch duct run with your "reds" to tap in a 6 inch is not acceptable at my shop. I don't care if you did it that way last summer at ABC.....you ain't doin' it here.

    We do have fun. We try every day to all go to lunch together. Our office gal is nicknamed "The Snarky Princess"....and trust me, she can handle any crap you give her, and dish it right back.

    There are shops out there like ours. Find one. Don't fall in with the shops that shun technical skills in favor of hustling new equipment. Hustling new equipment all day is great for your bosses bottom line, but you'll never become the kind of tech you thought you wanted to be when you first got into the trade.

    Good Luck !!
    Good info, thanks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Stumptown,USA
    Posts
    1,253
    Here are some links www.ua.org (Steamfitters) www.smwia.org (Sheetmetal) www.abc.org (non union). All three offer apprenticeship programs. Also check out www.rses.org and www.acca.org Good Luck!
    Challenge yourself, take the CM test --- Certificate Member since 2004 ---Join RSES ---the HVAC/R training authority ---www.rses.org

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    philippines
    Posts
    5

    Thumbs up

    Hello Guys,

    I'm a new apprentice in my country, sometimes i get confused in times of work but this happen to every begginers just onething i love this job it's great to become HVACR, if you learn well... :-)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    354
    Quote Originally Posted by turbine53 View Post
    I have no prior experience in any sort of trade or construction work.
    What attracts you to HVAC?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    philippines
    Posts
    5

    JULS_ASIA

    Well! it attracks me to learn different experience doing work in HVAC, someday if i become professional technician you got your highest pay by working in HVAC, my country or other side of the world...

    Best Regard,
    JUlius A.

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