HVAC Career Advice and Suggestions and schools?
I am 26 years old and decided to make a career change after spending years in retail and earning an associate degree and was 25 credits from a bachelors in liberal arts. My dad retired from Sears after 30+ years and began his own company in January. I left my job and have been working for my dad for the past 5 months. My dad is a master technician and is now a contractor working with several third part companies in Maryland. I registered and received my Maryland Apprentice license and am taking a course in two weeks at a local college for CFC prep and exam and Air Conditioning Installation. It is tough find courses on weekends since during the week I am busy. I see tons of people complaining about this field, and at the moment I see pro's and cons. I guess I am concerned about working in the field and not having a journeyman license since I think you have to wait four years. Also there seems to be a high emphasis on the CFC almost as if it is a air conditioning license in itself. The CFC is only to use refrigerant and has no basis on the competency of one's skills. How much does a new technician spend on tools etc. I am not too worried since my dad has two and three of every tool he owns which made this transition a little easier. I am worried about having to pay for health insurance and being able to make enough in the summer to get through the winter. I made $100 a day in the summer tax free since I am helper and learning but next year I am getting on the books. I am hoping to make $200-$300 a day next year.. but I still have to get a work truck or run calls in my SUV... I am not sure how many techs can get through the slow time of the year, I am afraid I may have to get another job to get me through nov-feb.. my dad agreed to continue paying me through the slow season ,but I still may need to get another job. This post is really my attempt to gain some insight and see if any techs can offer suggestions or ideas. Perhaps anyone knows of courses being offer in MD.
At this point my skills include replacing condensor and blower motors, contactors, capacitors, experience brazing, adding refrigerant, performing superheat and subcooling, I have been involved in over 20 installations mainly compressors, indoor coils, outdoor units, really have not done a complete furnace though since were a smaller company. I am really stumped though when it comes to the wiring of the furnace. I know how to use my leads and test for power coming in and out of the unit ,but locating shorts seems almost impossible. Alot of times a job would end of being a burned wire on the compressor or capacitor/contactor. Sometimes I would be on a job with my dad and would have no idea what was going on as he would test wires on a furnace using fuses and such...I guess 5 months on the field will still only teach you so much, but I would like to add that I am a quick learner...
Please include any schools in MD,DC, VA which offer certifications, weekend classes or night classes and exclude ITT or Lincoln Tech because they are too expensive. I want to look inside the beltway area.
you are correct about CFC license. it is a joke!!!!
also the easiest of HVAC exams!!!!!!!!
since you have been to college you will appreciate this.
to become a good journeyman HVAC mechanic you will need a couple years of school and for most guys 8 years in the field.
sounds like you got a good gig with your dad!
i think you will do fine.
one of the hardest things for a guy today is actually finding a JOB!
you have done this already!!!!!!
true knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.
I know Lincoln is expensive but it was the school that turned me from a truck driver into a service tech. I am currently on the advisory board for Lincoln Tech here in NJ and i was an instructor at a competing school in NYC. I can tell you that Lincoln is truly the better program. Im going to be going to them when i need a helper.
Every customer you take for granted today will be someone else's tomorrow.
You will be hard pressed to do better than you are are now. You are getting experience and that is way more important than school I think. Troubleshooting skills can be taught in school, but can only be mastered in the field. I am thinking two years experience is better than school on a resume.
Originally Posted by sto2299001
I take it that you and your Dad have some relationship problems? I worked for my Dad years ago, and presently have a son working for me so it kinda goes with the territory. Why leave your Dad's employ?? Years ago my Dad admitted that his sons were the best help he ever had, but we all wanted to work somewhere else! Me? I worked my way thru college, graduated and worked elsewhere for about 10 years and then moved home and went back into the business. I learned a LOT in those 10 years!!! Also made Dad look a lot smarter!! I've now owned the business for over 30 years and have a son working here too, however he wants to work elsewhere, so there you go! Can't fault him for wanting completely "on his own", but he'll learn just as the rest of us did, and heck he'll probably realise that ole Dad was no dumby! But I'll just keep on rolling till then. Some of this sound familiar? Another thing, if your Dad is self employed, he needs of get both you and he into a medical plan and set up retirement benefits ASAP. Tomorrow comes, whether or not you're prepared!
Be grateful for what you have, I have been finished with school since Feb 12 still I have not found a job in the field. It could be alot worse then you are making it to be I would love to have the opportunity you are having. Remain focused and pay attention when you out there in the field and keep putting your hands on stuff read your schematics and don't give up on your wiring I had the same problem while I was in school. But I over came the wiring process, You will do fine just keep learning something everyday.
If you're gonna stay in this field, start improving your electricity knowledge thru study and possibly some more school. A really simple to understand troubleshooting book is Doolin's Troubleshooting Bible. It gives simple to understand explanations!! Electricity troubleshooting is THE biggest shortcomings of any new hired employee!
Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I am trying to find an economic approach to getting further educated in the field. I live in PG county Maryland, but willing to commute. I am still working with my father at S & L Air Conditioning and Heating and I am taking a CFC certification course next month at the College of Southern Maryland. There are several community colleges ,but as of yet haven't had much luck. PG Community College started classes a month ago, and the season was too busy and now its too late to enroll, Montgomery College has the same situation...the only other school College of Southern Maryland has classes which start at 5 or 6pm ,but I am still working full time with S & L and trying to drive 45 miles in rush hour is near impossible. Besides this CFC course I really need anything HVAC related whether it be workshops, college courses etc. I have done some self help books and online videos I found ,but I really need something to put down on paper. I want courses which can not only aid in my knowledge ,but help build a resume. I plan on working with my dad and building this company ,but I need something to put down on paper for me, to see my actual growth. I went to college for 4 years so I am accustomed to seeing college credit or certification on paper. As mentioned I received my apprenticeship license and am taking the CFC prep and exam next month at CSM.
Out here in the Buffalo area, union pipefitters are doing all the big commercial service work. They have relationships set up with Johnson Controls.
If you want to move forward with your pro commercial training, then I would try to get into the union apprenticship program with the fittters and try to get a job through them in a service environment.
If you don't go that way, stay with your dad for a while and relax a little....sounds like your putting too much emphasis on paper training and not enough on actual OJT (on the job training).
If you get your section 608 universal refr. handling cert., then that is all you need for now to walk into a supply house and buy equipment. take that and run with it.
You should be doing all the service troubleshooting and your dad should be standing behind you, guiding you through it, allowing you to take in what your doing, while doing it.
Having him do everything, is not helping his business in the long run!
As for electrical knowledge...the onkly thing you can do for now is to take the schemetics of the units you come across everyday and study them. ask questions to your dad as you go, but tryt to trace the operation of the unit through start-up, that will help you greatly. also for a/c understanding the refrigeration cycle backwards and forwards is a must before you try to understand anything else.
here's a few simple questions to prove my point:
1. why is the compressor in the refrigeration cycle?
2. what component causes the refrigerant to start the process of removing heat from the air?
3. if you reverse the refrigerant cycle what system do you end up with?
answering these qustions should be like breathing...you have to crawl before you walk, in this industry, we all crawled marathons!!!
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
....actually, I am still crawling!!
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect