I'm a recently dislocated factory worker with a chance to go to a tech school for HVAC free of charge. I have 25 years working in variuos factories, am very mechanically inclined, fix my cars, appliances, ect. I'm very interested in this profession, but am getting cold feet because looking at the want ads and job service sites there isn't much for jobs here in central Wisconsin (which seems funny, since this is a 4 season state). All the indicators say there will be a 13% increase in HVAC jobs between 2008-2016. My question is, do most of the HVAC companies hire by word of mouth, through tech schools, or some other outlet other than want ads or job service sites? I know they have union halls, although I'm unaware of any around here. My benefits (including unemployment) are done as soon as I graduate, so job placement is crucial. I could go for welding or CNC and be guarenteed a job, but I really want to go for HVAC, is this a good choice? Being rich doesn't interest me, living comfortable and job satisfaction does. Any info would help. Thanks.
You have to ask yourself if you want to dedicate your life during the hottest and coldest times of the year to the job. Then, assuming a guess at your age from the 25 years working, you have to ask yourself if at this point in your life you want to begin a career of lugging tools, jugs of refrigerant and parts around in the hottest and coldest weather along with climbing up into attics, onto roofs and squeezing into crawl spaces with whatever it takes to get your job done.
It's good work and something that people will need for a long time to come, but it comes at a price and the older you get, the more it hurts.
I lift things up and put them down.
Your in the same exact position as me including probably the TAA tuition. I too came from factories and we probably have the same interests. I choose to go to school because it was free and im still being paid my prior wages while im in school. I was confident of finding a job right out of school because i too looked at the numbers, did some calling and just looking around but now im not so sure. I have a few weeks left on my year long education and while i will probably end up getting a low paying job ( which is what you can expect if you do get a job) my chances arent as great as i was once told. Ill get one more or less for the simple fact that im one of the best in the school and i have a perfect work record for the last 20 years. I also have a deep nanotech background that i can fall back on and in fact im already working part time to fill in the difference from the low pay i expect to recieve at least for the near future.
I viewed this as a once in a life time opportunity to make a complete, fully funded career 180. If i had to pay my way i never would have done this and in fact looked into doing this about 5 years and the numbers just didnt make it appealing to me with me having to pay. Im glad i went and hopefully ill be able to get a good job in this field but i do have backups in place. There are plenty of past graduates i see everyday coming into the school's career center trying to find jobs with no luck. Some should be able to get jobs and some should go back to jail but they are all having difficulty getting a job. Im probably gonna look into a facilities job at graduation rather than being outside like i want to be till i get some experience on systems. It is very difficult to get a job as a helper and actually end up moving up into tech or install around here.
Of course doing research shows most of the people in the field currently are due to retire shortly and there arent enough new people coming in but the reality is those oldies are still in the field and alot of compaines arent interested in bringing on fresh talent until they know those guys are stepping out the door.
Dont get me wrong, i enjoy this stuff and hope to be able to make something with it but it doesnt look like a sure thing. I can simply step into a my prior jobs if need be and never touch this stuff again if i get into a bind. If i didnt have a backup career that im already known and involved in id be very worried for my future.
Breaking in to the industry
There are a few ways to go about breaking in to the HVAC industry. You said you have 25 years experience in the work force. So doing like I did and joining the military to get your training is not possible.
You can either go to www.fafsa.gov and apply for student financial aid and go to a trade school or most likely take a pay cut and start with an HVAC company on an installation crew. I recommend finding a commercial contractor. Do this for a year or so and learn everything you can. As you can afford it start buying your own hand tools and don't be cheap get good ones.
A mechanic with his own tools is valuable.
William L. Cornett, PMP
Comfortech Heating and Cooling, LLC.
Last edited by Stamas; 04-24-2012 at 08:49 AM.
if you get into refrigeration, escpecially ice machines, there's a big company out in Manitowoc, WI,
i just can't remember the name.......
Every customer you take for granted today will be someone else's tomorrow.
what part of WI are you in? I have a few contacts in that part of the world. Also you can go to the local distributers G.A. Larson,johnstone etc. and talk to the counter people to see if companys are looking for people.
I graduated from a trade school a couple of years ago. The only people who got jobs were the young ones. Nobody of any age got jobs. I am approaching 50 years and If somebody tells me 10 dollars a hour, might not be 40 hours a week and no benefits. I walk away. What is happening here is every 6 weeks 20 plus people hit the market from school and will work like that. I have never been without a job until the economy took a dive. I have always done quite well. I ended up going on my own and am doing quite fine.
So what I'm getting from this is, being 49 with no contacts in this field, a failing economy with no real sign of turn around, and a employers market, I'm facing a tough and impossible road? That I should choose a different field to get into. It is depressing, since I think I would have enjoyed this profession and probably done well given the chance. The thing is I probably wouldn't get the chance and can't afford to be without a job. Thanks for the honesty.
It hurts bad!!!!!(23 years service here) lmao, seriously tho, what doesnt when you get older, get outta the trenches and into estimating/ sales, great money, awesome hours and the golfs pretty good too......
Originally Posted by DarrinB
Total Energy Management, inc
Possibly the truth but it depends on the situation. If your like me and get paid to go, why not? Even if you dont get a job in hvac it helps alot in the maintence and facilities jobs. Youll learn alittle about everything so you can kind of go in alot of directions.
Originally Posted by hdtramp
I also believe the age thing is half true. While younger people are more likely to get jobs ive found that when it comes to day to day customer interactions the older person is better suited to it even if he knows less. I chalk it up to "age equals wisdom and experience" even if you dont know squat the customer assumes you do. some companies may hire thinking that. Youd be the face but not the talent until later.
Around here starting scale is about 10-12 per hour and i think that probably true for most of the country. decent techs look to be making about 25+ in 3-5 years. Ill admit its almost impossible to get by on that starting amount. I can only do it because i have a part time job that pays really well and gives me alot of freedom time wise. If i had to pay for my own schooling at this age or even in my mid to late 20's with any sort of debt there is zero chance id do this.