History: Forman gutter installer 8 years. A couple years doing siding and trim. Gave it up to be home with the kids when wife became a RN making way more than me.
Now the kids are starting school full time and I'm looking to change jobs (Had enough hanging off roofs and laders). How should I get started with a job in HVAC? I was going to take classes at the local community college, but they told me it was a waist of time because I'd be making more if I just got a job with a HAVC company.
What's the correct way to get started.
I assume you need to continue working for the money so can't take the time to attend HVAC school fulltime?
Take HVAC evening classes while working as a sheetmetal installer for a local HVAC contractor. Use the installation job as a personal on the job training program while going to school.
Most contractors need sheetmetal installers and you can learn that aspect of the job pretty quickly right on the job. You can move up from there as you see what other opportunities become available. There are many aspects to the HVAC business so you will not have to remain an installer forever.
Also, get some HVAC books and start reading. Of course you can also learn a great deal right here at HVAC Talk.
Here is a good HVAC book to get you started.
You will also find other great HVAC books at
I learned [am forever learning really] OJT style. That and keep reading 'till you know the acronyms. Make the rounds of the supply houses, open accounts, get your EPA card, drop a grand or so on tools for starters and see if some of the little guys will put you on their "emergency list" as a helper, grunt, attic monkey or whatever. Tell them that while you're still needing direction you'll work for flat rate so they don't get hurt if it takes you 10 hours instead of 6. And the single best "schooling" i've found are those 4 hour after work seminars the supply houses run from time to time. The last one I went to was intended to familiarize you with Tranes newest products but the instructor was incredibly knowledgeable on everything heat and cool related and answered all my questions during breaks and offered to stay after for as long as I like if I had more questions. This guy was fantastic but i've heard most are good and these concentrated sessions are truly the meat and potatoes with out the stale bread sticks and wilted house salad.