Personally, I'll do it. The Money will come later, but first you need to master controls and understand Networking. I'm on the process of crossing over and I love every minute of it.
As the guys stated before you are going to spend a lot of time reading, going school, goggling, and working long hours and some time you have to donate couple hours a week at work just for hell of learning.
However, you must need to learn to manage you time and your personal life wisely. You don’t want to end up divorcing you wife and marry to Control because is not worth it. (If you are marry.) If you are not marry than the World is in your hands.
Remember one thing being a control guy doesn’t mean that you are not going to get dirt because you still have to troubleshoot the equipment. If you don't want to get dirt than you better be the Programmer. Control guys and programmers for HVAC are two different things.
Automatic controls/Energy Management and Networking System is here to stay. There is a lot of demand on this field and it will be more in the future. Just remember you need to keep up with Technology because it changes.
The question here is Are You Ready?
I don't wish you luck because you make your own luck.
After determining that there were no companies falling over themselves to give me an opportunity, and that local distributors protected their training classes as if the nuclear launch codes would be revealed...I decided to try and gain as much knowledge as possible on my own in hopes that someone would either respect my initiative or take pity on my poor misguided attempts to break into controls and give me a job.
After securing this fantasy job my boss would clearly see my high level of intelligence (in the Plan I am really smart) and would consider me a valuable asset and absolutely critical to the companies success and his personal advancement. He/she would then send me to much training and team me up with the best tech they had who by the way is friendly and loves to train newbies who may one day threaten his place at the top.
That is pretty much the Plan. Ideas?
It took me 5 years to get to the point where I'm not the only control person
I started in the HVAC trade after going to a trade school at age 19. At about 26 after many compressor changes, and repairs I started into controls. I always had a higher than average skill in the electrical side of the trade. So I started with install, then moved to small computer tasks VAV boxes stuff like that. I really had no computer skills, so I bought my first home computer and just started playing with it to learn. I can remember my wife coming into the room I was in ,and saying OMG!! what are you doing?? As I had the hard drive out of our new computer. Fast forward to age 37 I have been doing mostly controls for about three years now, I have faced people who didn't believe in me, ones that won't share knowledge, and that has only driven me to be better. The one thing that a company can never stop is what you learn. I have built trainer boards paid for by me, many hours of my own time building program just to get better. It really is alot of personal investment, but to me very rewarding. The best control guy to me is a mix of mechnical knowledge, computer skills, and a drive to be good at it . So good luck, and prepare for you brain to hurt!!!!
How beneficial was learning the installation side first?
It will help alot IMO. I have been in controls for about 18 months. I came from a non HVAC job of 11 years where I wrote SQL and VB .NET apps. You will get the feel for how actuators and VFD's and all the happy stuff should be wired, which you may already know with you background. It will also help you become familiar with the parts you use. An example that I ran in to was with a JCI actuator that was provieded to me. It was an ON/OFF type setup, so I figured ok I'm gonna send it 24V or 0V depending on what I need ti to do. WRONG!!! To that point I had never heard of 3 wire ON/OFF control, but I do now. Helping with the install or at least being there when it was installed showed me that before I loaded the program and I was able to read, research and ask questions to change the program for this.
All that said, it certainly can't hurt to do a little installation.
so what type of computer training do you recommend? sounds like you had a computer background before you got into controls, and where can I get it? can I get online for free or do I need to go to school? thanks for your help I appreciate it.
The computer background will help to some degree. You need to be comfortable with it. I use IP scanners from time to time to find IP address of JACES. Networking is more of a help with subnets and such. Basic firewall knowledge has came in handy a few times. You can find a lot of info online. The sad part is the software needed is not free and is $$$$$ to buy. Just thinking in a logic "oriented" mindset has been the biggest help to me. My actuall past programming has not been very useful yet. The hard part has been taking my IF...THEN statements and DO....WHILE loops and applying them to logic blocks and such. Sometimes I know what I want to do and could in .NET but getting the right blocks together can be frusterating. Everyday I learn something new. That's what I like most! Good luck. You can do it!!!!
I am thinking about crossing over to controls - I prefer electrical over compressor change outs but know that I may have to take a cut in pay while training. Is this smart? Who has crossed over from conventional HVAC to controls and can tell me if they made a good choice. Is the type of work better?
looking back over the years and how i made choices, i found taking a step back or a lateral move seemed to benefit me more for moving forward than if i stayed in one place. i once took a job an 1.5 hr away and it was a midnight shift. They had a brand new DDC control system, i hated working that shift and driving that far. But a year and a half later and what i learned from working with the controls landed me a great job more pay, close to home and at a manufacturing plant with state of the art control system.. you never know until you try.
I would really say, that knowing the equipment side first was very valuable. Others might disagree, but I think it is a must. For the computer knowledge I would say, that I'm not the best computer guy but a good working knowledge of windows and all the programs associated, word, excel, I use virtual machines a lot that has been a pain. There is just some much to learn, I would say you just have to dive in, and start the process. You should see my computer bag, stuffed full of all kinds of cables, I really work on about 5 different systems at some level so keeping all that managed with software, and device cables can be troublesome. That is just part of the job, for me. It beats putting a 600lb compressor in on the roof in the rain!!!