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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    187

    Looking for career advice

    Hi folks. I'll try to keep this as short as possible. Over 4 years ago I worked for a well known company in the area that hires and trains new guys, eventually giving them their own vans. Not sure what got me interested in doing this type of work but, I ended up loving it. Unfortunately that didn't even last an entire year (major personal problems) and was out of a job for quite some time after I had left that company. So just recently I had a 'reality check' when I realized how little I'm making at my current job and figured why not go back to a/c work? And now I'm here looking to get some advice.

    Because most of the employment ads I see generally ask for a minimum of 2 years experience, I was thinking of getting an HVAC certificate from a local college or something similar to that to sort of go along with the little experience I have and to also give me more knowledge of course since I would like to get serious with this. Unfortunately the local college near me starts the 3 course program every fall, so I just missed it. I was wondering if there is anyone here from the central Florida area that might be able to give me some tips on where I could go? And maybe some advice on how to look for the right company since there seems to be so many. I could always go back to the first company I was with but, around the time I left, I didn't like the direction the company was taking and I didn't agree with the type of people they hired. Although I did leave on good terms and I appreciate what they've done for me, I will not go back to them.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    187
    Oh yea I almost forgot. I understand this type of job has its ups and downs. I've done lots of intern work and held many other jobs during my time in college years ago and heard it all from the guys within those fields. I think every job has its ups and downs and I just want to make clear that this thread isn't about whether this is a good career choice or not. Thanks!

    *Ok I just read the rules. I see that this is for professional members only. I'm not currently working in this field so I'm not sure if I'd be allowed to apply for pro status or not. Please let me know.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Stumptown,USA
    Posts
    1,250
    Why don't you switch to commercial refrigeration? It is less seasonal. Here are some links www.ua.org (steamfitter union) www.smwia.org (sheetmetal union) www.abc.org (non union) All three have apprenticeship programs where they pay for your school. Also try www.sourcerefrigeration.com they have a branch in Florida. And they will train you.
    Challenge yourself, take the CM test --- Certificate Member since 2004 ---Join RSES ---the HVAC/R training authority ---www.rses.org

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    187
    Its funny that you mention that because that's something I planned on specializing in in the future. I greatly appreciate the links and I'll check them out asap . Just curious though, what's the difference between those three links above (steamfitter/sheetmetal/non union)? I know zero about unions. Do they all offer the same type of training? I know its a dumb question but I had to ask.
    Last edited by Jigjoe; 02-02-2012 at 09:09 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    187
    Well the guys from sourcerefrigeration just contacted me and told me about some openings they had in the area. It seems like the only positions they have available right now are installers (apprentice and journeymen). I'm a little nervous because I've never done installations, let alone commercial. I was also hoping for more of a service position than anything else but, if they train you I guess it won't hurt to try right?

    *I've read through many threads here and they seem like a pretty decent company to work for.

  6. #6
    You could either check out Mid-Florida tech and/or UA Local 803. I went to Mid-Florida years ago and then went through the apprenticeship program at the UA. Not sure how Mid-Florida is now, but back then it was a good program. Can't image my instructor is still there.

    The UA takes in folks every year and its a 5 yr program. Earn as you learn, so they can help find you a job.

    I will say that its a tough market now just like everywhere else.

    Look them both up in the phone book and give them a call.

    May I ask what local college you were looking at?

    I know some here don't like the union, but it worked out for me.
    Anyone who says this trade is easy, aint doing it right!

    If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.

    Proud member of the United Association.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    187
    Thanks for the info. I could be wrong but, it looks like the program at Mid Florida Tech is combined with the apprenticeship program: http://www.mft.ocps.net/our_programs...ditioning.html . It states in the description that the student has to be employed by a participating employer/sponsor. It seems like the program might have changed since when you went. Hopefully there is more to it than that because I'm pretty interested. I'll contact the instructor and try to get some more info regarding this.

    The college I was looking at was Seminole State. Its really close to me but the problem is that they start their program in the fall. 3 classes total, 1 in the fall, 1 in the spring, and 1 in the summer. I haven't talked to an adviser but that's how its displayed on their site. I really don't want to wait till the fall to start this, so I'm definitely open to suggestions. Thanks again

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    187
    Ok I feel kind of dumb... I was looking in the apprenticeship section =\

    Are you familiar with any of these instructors?

    Emery Cary
    Garland (Gene) Dever

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Northwest Georgia
    Posts
    107
    Try the advanced technology center in daytona beach

  10. #10
    I'm not familiar with those instructors, but if you look at the bottom of the web page it lists the apprenticeship coordinator, phone number, and email. I know Mr. Gregory pretty well. Great guy, but absolutely no nonsense.

    I don't know how the programs are connected, he would be able to explain it.

    They are in South Orlando, so it would be a far drive.

    Not familiar with Seminole State as a program - only as a customer. They maybe closer and a better fit, but I would strongly recommend at least a call to Mr. Gregory for a conversation. If he's not there ask for Pam. I believe they do the interviews for the program early so don't wait to give him a call. I would think just about any program would tend to start in the fall.

    If you could get into the UA program and make it 5 yrs, you'd be set as long as you are a good worker and humble.

    When I went through it lots of the guys lived in your area and communited. However back then there was more work than people.

    Good Luck.
    Anyone who says this trade is easy, aint doing it right!

    If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.

    Proud member of the United Association.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Azle, Texas/ Fort Worth
    Posts
    190
    im not sure of your age but i started as a retro /change out and learned enough within 6 months and i was clean cut and had people skills and showed up for work that i got a job doing start ups a year later i was a service tech with a brand new van, phone , and all i needed and in 18 months more than trippled my pay .I now have a contractors Lic which means i passed a test lol and allows me to do some side work but most of all looks great on my resume ... I learned some refrig stuff and more people skills and make a nice living and now do facilities work for big companies and its great . what i am saying is get your foot in the door doing something esp commercial and let someone know what direction you want to go show up ,be clean cut and enthusiastic and promote yourself and your company and taje every course offered and you will do just fine . school is great and most will pay for your school while your working . Godspeed and good luck .
    An air conditioning or refrigeration unit never signs a check for me! PEOPLE do that,and you should never allow yourself to forget that WE fix the problems of people,not machines.They are at the heart of our business,one way or another,and polishing the skills required to provide solid customer service will never be a waste of your time

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    40
    I was in the same boat you were in. I just this week got my first job in this field and this is how i did it. I started at a community college similar to what you are talking about that i would only be able to fit in 3 classes a semester and take a year to get a 'degree'.

    I found a local place offering a 13 wk course and decided to give that a go. It was great and A LOT faster. I got my EPA license and started sending out resumes and cover letters to every company in the area using this website (http://www.thebluebook.com/). I finally got a hit on a commercial company last week and by the end of that week i was hired. I'm now working with an experienced tech and learning everything in the field.

    Looking back at it now i could have studied well enough to have passed the EPA test with out any classes. I do not know if that's something that interests you; you could get your EPA and take those classes at the community college while getting on the job experience.

    But if i had to do it all again - I would have skipped my community college classes and i would found a private owned school/classes that were not from a community college or corporate tech school.

    Hope this helped -oh and i think American train co. Have short 1-3 day courses which shove the basics down your throat to get you your EPA then you can take college courses at your leisure.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    187
    Thanks guys and yes these posts do help. @smokies, yea that would be quite a drive but, I'd imagine in the end the pay off is worth it. I'll definitely have to give those folks a call. @rednecktech, I'll be 27 this year. Its unfortunate because although I'm still young (I don't feel it anymore ), I've wasted a lot of time and passed up great opportunities. You sound like you have it made and have done well for yourself. Congrats! If things don't work out too well with the schooling side of this, I'd definitely be willing to take whatever comes my way to simply get my foot in the door. @colortwang, I already have my license and used to work in the field. Its been around 5 years now since I've been out of it and I've pretty much lost touch with what I've learned and experienced on the field. So in reality all I really need is probably a couple of weeks back on the field to sort of warm up I guess but, in this day and age I'd like to do it the right way by taking classes, not necessarily for the EPA (since I have it already) but, to properly learn this field and to pick up where I left off.

    Thanks again guys

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