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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rochester NY
    Posts
    35

    Are skilled trades worth getting into anymore?

    I'm sure someone will have a negative comment or reply to this but the fact of the matter is its not a joke.

    I'm 21 years old, live in upstate NY & graduated with my certificate about 7 months ago, worked for a residential HVAC company as a helper for 3 months then got laid off due to the slow time of year. I've been looking around for work for the past several months with no luck. I question everyday whether HVAC, electrical, Plumbing are even worth getting into anymore if you sit home 6 months out of the year. How do you survive like that? do you get another job? How do you make money? I have taken the local union test but again your still going to get slow. So i ask for any insight or advice you can give me to determine if i should stick with this field or look somewhere else. Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,140
    I've been in the commercial HVAC field for 12 years and I've never missed a day that I didn't intend to miss. The trades are a good way to make a respectable living. We need to find some way to restore respect and dignity to the trades. I would much rather do what I do than shuffle papers for some multi-national conglomerate as a faceless drone in a sea of drab cubicles, spending half of my paycheck on a junior executive wardrobe in hopes that one day my narcissistic egomaniac boss will be impressed enough to ask me to have lunch with him. If you have no skills and depend on the financial system or some other abstract intangible construct of man for your livelihood, you'll be S.O.L. when all of these things fall apart. I make more than most of those middle-management office-bound tools, anyway.

    My advice to you is to keep your nose to the grindstone and stick with it. Try to get into a company that does more than residential service and replacement. Commercial, industrial, refrigeration, plant maintenance, etc... These things are needed year round.
    The key to happiness is lower expectations.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rochester NY
    Posts
    35
    ^ Thank you Sir, i agree i would rather be doing this kind of work that sitting in an office taking orders from someone who will never appreciate your efforts. Do you need a special certification for Plant management or is that like building maintenance?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta
    Posts
    1,151
    Like anything, if you want to do something bad enough, you'll do we'll.
    Up here where I am, most skilled trades make more money than a lot of university (college for you 'muricans) grads.
    It can get slow sometimes, but a good employer will find work for you, or better yet, you make it for yourself.
    I had to move 3800km to make it in this racket, maybe a change of scenery would help you?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rochester NY
    Posts
    35
    your probably correct a new location would be very beneficial. Have you found or heard any locations that seem to thrive for our kind of work? I have heard your location does well.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Chicagoland Area
    Posts
    4,841
    Quote Originally Posted by Tech Rob View Post
    I've been in the commercial HVAC field for 12 years and I've never missed a day that I didn't intend to miss. The trades are a good way to make a respectable living. We need to find some way to restore respect and dignity to the trades. I would much rather do what I do than shuffle papers for some multi-national conglomerate as a faceless drone in a sea of drab cubicles, spending half of my paycheck on a junior executive wardrobe in hopes that one day my narcissistic egomaniac boss will be impressed enough to ask me to have lunch with him. If you have no skills and depend on the financial system or some other abstract intangible construct of man for your livelihood, you'll be S.O.L. when all of these things fall apart. I make more than most of those middle-management office-bound tools, anyway.

    My advice to you is to keep your nose to the grindstone and stick with it. Try to get into a company that does more than residential service and replacement. Commercial, industrial, refrigeration, plant maintenance, etc... These things are needed year round.
    Agreed
    Officially, Down for the count

    YOU HAVE TO GET OFF YOUR ASS TO GET ON YOUR FEET

    I know enough to know, I don't know enough
    Liberalism-Ideas so good they mandate them

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Tidewater Virginia
    Posts
    140
    Rob had better luck than I did... In 20 years of HVAC/R I've been laid off twice for a total of 8 days and both situations resulted in upgrades to my job situation! The short answer is yes, the trades are still worthwhile, particularly in the age of computer server rooms and the high use of electronics in general buildings. If you want to remain in Upstate, consider going commercial and/or industrial (much less of a slow season) or consider moving to a more moderate climate for more consistent work through the year. Remember that the more you know and the longer and broader your experience, the more likely you are to be the one kept through a layoff. Take all the advantage you can of local classes, seminars and from the techs you work with and get as many certifications as you can afford. If your state or trade organizations offer a journeyman's and/or master's certification, get it. Right now, you are building your resume along with your experience. If I could go back and change anything, I'd start with finding a company with an apprenticeship program and get my hands into centrifugal compressors, heavy boilers and controls. These segments of the industry require specialized knowledge and experience your're not likely to get through any other route than working with a hands on job side by side with an experienced tech. These segments are also the most specialized and have the fewest experienced techs usually resulting in the highest pay and most secure work environment.

    Hope this helps

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    951 Killarney Dr, Pittsburgh Pa 15234
    Posts
    18
    I understand you're frustrated it's hard to get a foothold when you're starting out in this type of work. Employers tend to make sure to keep there top people working when it's slow. It just makes sense, it's hard to find a good tech and sometimes it's even harder to keep him. With that being said I can share with you a couple of things I learned when I first got into the trades.
    Take the cotton out of you're ears and put it in you're mouth. I don't say that trying to be mean but the older techs don't want to here it. If they send you down 10 flights of stiars 10 times a day do it with a smile on you're face and thay will train you. Even better when it's time to lay people off for the season that old tech will want to keep you around.
    Invest in you're self and do you're best to make you're self indispensable to the co and you will always have a good job.
    When you're starting out you have to put in you're time and remember that all those old techs had to do the same.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,140
    Quote Originally Posted by kfred92 View Post
    ^ Thank you Sir, i agree i would rather be doing this kind of work that sitting in an office taking orders from someone who will never appreciate your efforts. Do you need a special certification for Plant management or is that like building maintenance?
    Building/plant maintenance jobs are good for stability, but you should be engaged in some other training program simultaneously to get your dose of the fundamentals and theory while you change out ballasts and polish widgets by day.

    Some of the guys who operate large chiller & boiler plants have no business changing a light bulb and then there are others who are degreed, certified, highly qualified, highly skilled operating engineers who know this stuff inside and out and can run circles around the best mechanics and techs. These are the guys making $$$,$$$, but they may have gotten their start running flex duct through an attic. You never know.

    You have to be where the big buildings and industry are. I think NYC has some special licensure for operators and stationary engineers, but there's lots of other cities that probably don't.
    The key to happiness is lower expectations.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Tenn
    Posts
    139
    You know whether you collect garbage for Waste Management (I use to fix trucks for them years gone by), nerosurgery, or flip those letter cards on the Wheel of Fortune the requirements for success are pretty much the basic same. You must learn the trade. You must work hard and you must persevere. Toward those requirements it is necessary to have a passion for what you will be doing each day. About the only career where the requirements are different is politician. They don't need to have a clue what they are doing. If you feel you can meet the requirements for HVAC and maintain a passion for what you will be doing, even when the job becomes routine, skilled trades may be a very worthwhile endeavor.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Chicago area
    Posts
    1,453
    Get into the service side of the business. Installers, especially in the residential market are always more expendible. When you do land a gig, try and be as multi-talented as you can. Show up early and stay late. Join professional orginizations such as RSES. The guys that get laid off are typically the guys who can't or don't want to do something. Never pigion hole yourself. Good money, and quality living can be had in any sector of this or most any other trade. It's okay to specialize in something if you happen to stumble upon a talent you posess, but never focus soley on that talent.

    It's kind of a shame, but I've come across a few outstanding commercial/industrial chiller techs that needed to call to have there own furnace repaired.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Tenn
    Posts
    139
    Quote Originally Posted by heatingman View Post
    Get into the service side of the business. Installers, especially in the residential market are always more expendible. When you do land a gig, try and be as multi-talented as you can. Show up early and stay late. Join professional orginizations such as RSES. The guys that get laid off are typically the guys who can't or don't want to do something. Never pigion hole yourself. Good money, and quality living can be had in any sector of this or most any other trade. It's okay to specialize in something if you happen to stumble upon a talent you posess, but never focus soley on that talent.

    It's kind of a shame, but I've come across a few outstanding commercial/industrial chiller techs that needed to call to have there own furnace repaired.
    While I am slightly at odds with who gets laid off (anyone can be laid off), I truely see eye to eye with you regarding not pigion holing ourselves. When I retired from the service all my cooking equipment experience was electric. Sure it wasn't a deal killer toward getting the next job, yet I still had to study gas systems to achieve with civilian work. I feel that everyone on this board agrees that we must always be studing our field and expanding what we know. That is why we come to this site over other sites with petty topics. One may be a great AC install man (I read a guy's post who felt very skilled in this area). They should still be studing for expanding their knowledge base. They should be learning perhaps refrigeration or low pressure chillers. Technology is constantly changing in this field. Those who fail to maintain a current knowledge of procedures are already at a disadvantage. There is never a point where there is not more to learn in this field and those who keep learning are the ones who will be successfull.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sherman, TX
    Posts
    9,441
    Quote Originally Posted by Tech Rob View Post
    My advice to you is to keep your nose to the grindstone and stick with it. Try to get into a company that does more than residential service and replacement. Commercial, industrial, refrigeration, plant maintenance, etc... These things are needed year round.
    Sage advice. The more you can do, the more you will be in demand. If you're a resi installer/helper, you have significant competition. If you're a good tech that can do commercial HVAC and reefer, you'll have far more work, and better pay.

    Seperate yourself from the pack.
    Technical incompetence is NOT a sales tool....

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