Entry Level Questions
Hello folks, I am an automotive technician and my trade is no longer able to create the income that it used to be able to, due to the fact that the job is commission, the economy is slow, it is more affordable to finance a new car when your warranty has expired than to repair it, etc. I came to these forums to find out how the HVAC trade is holding up in our current economy. What fields of HVAC are the most lucrative? How should I approach learning the trade (trade school, college, etc)? What questions should I be asking myself before I get into this trade? Any useful information that you can provide would be much appreciated.
Well, did you enjoy auto repairs? If so, you are probably well cut out for this business.
Residential AC is largely optional.
Refrigeration is a solid and fairly stable aspect of this trade.
Right now, we have slowed down, but I have to clarify 'slow down'. I am working 40-45 hours a week, down from 50-65.
Is the pay salaried, commission, or hourly? If it is not rude of me, can I ask what the average annual salary is? Would it benefit me more to be a "jack of all trades ace of none" or to focus on one particular aspect of the trade and get really good at it?
If you're technologically inclined, I suggest you check out the HVAC controls industry. It's booming!
Pay type(salary/commision) depends on company.
The questions are. Can you afford to start at a low pay(no real experience) and stay at a lower pay then you were getting for several years.
And will the economy pick up that you would be making more by remaining in your current trade.
PS: Deleted your other thread. Please read site rules, Thank you.
Oh really! Pray tell where might that be because I'd sure be interested? With a B.S. in computer science and an A.A.S. in HVAC/R and I have read every book/manual that I could find on it I can't even find a starting position much less an interview for one of those positions.
Originally Posted by RWILS107
Drew, the first thought that came to my mind when I read your post was a number of years ago I took the Imaging Science Foundation training and the instructor from Boca Raton, FL talked about this person who ran this shop doing wheel balances the older way where the tires were actually balanced on the vehicle. The guy constantly had the business. It was sort of a niche automotive related service but he made the money doing it.
Sam Maloof who passed away earlier this year sold rockers for around $20,000 each and had over a year backlog of orders. He too specialized in a niche furniture making trade. He led a frugal life style and lived within his means and survived. A few years ago he drove a Porsche that I knew of. Not bad if you ask me.
Your original posting really doesn't blare "get me out of automotive repair" what I see is a dissatisfaction with your pay. I can't blame you there.
As a vehicle owner who doesn't trade too often people like myself trust our vehicles to mechanics that we can trust to get the work done right. Too me it really hasn't been so much as what I have to pay but rather what I want done gets done and done right. So there are people out there that are wanting the dependable service.
As for the HVAC/R trade. Well you see my first reply up above. If you search and look even for more recent postings in this forum your will see more where people just like myself are discouraged. For me my reason is to get out of IT, I'm tired of the offshoring or as we like to call it offwhoring and never knowing if the next day you'll have a job. Not too many people have the use for a database administrator vs. say someone to work on their HVAC/R or their automobile.
I know this economy suks for all of us, aside from the oil companies, banks, credit card companies and Wall Street. Being in the automotive repair trade reminded me of a posting I saw on Business Week this week in regards to how Cadillac would be GM's savior. One poster to the article said something like well when grandpa bought his Cadillac he knew he had a job and Cadillac's will sell when people have a dependable job.
Originally Posted by BigDick
Controls isn't a place for a beginner.
Controls is a place for a guy who has been around the trade for several years and KNOWS the hows, whats and whys of what is being controlled, not just somebody who can tap keys on a keyboard.
If you have the 2 fields (computer technologies and HVAC) you still need a degree of practical experience before anyone is going to TOUCH you as a 'controls' guy.
Basically, you need to pay your dues.
How should I approach learning the trade (trade school, college, etc)?
I would say it depends what you plan on doing. If you plan on just doing
service and installs then a trade school might be the best route.
If you plan on getting into a more technical area, for example controls, and
later management then I would say a college. The added benefit of a
college and you have to be careful here because not all colleges are the
same even if they have the word college in their name. Is that you can
most generally transfer general study courses (science, math, etc. ) to another college should you ever want to do that to further your education.
Ask yourself this question if the 9 month trade school costs $9000 and a 2 year accredited college associate degree cost $9000 which do you think would be the right choice? Time and again and you can find all kinds of data to justify this but people with a higher education generally earn more over their life time.
Colleges are not the same as I mentioned. This Wikipedia link explains something about this. You will see the link to the US Dept. of Education at the bottom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_C...es_and_Schools
The bottom line is choose one that is accredited. Chances are Joe Blow's College of HVAC/R isn't. Most like Joe Blow are just a front to collect your student loan money.
Spend time to visit the schools. Go over the graduation requirements. Talk with an adviser. Meet the instructors. Tour the classroom and facilities. Are they getting support from manufacturers, as in you see all the same furnace, A/C makers in the shop/lab area. Will you be educated on what is up to date.
If the school offers loans through the Department of Education or approved to give student loans then they probably are required to file a free report that tells the graduation rate, how many students that graduated are employed in the field of study.
I looked at a local trade school and once I saw that report I decided against it. If a high percentage of their graduates aren't employed or there is a high drop out number that should raise a red flag. Ask questions.
In the state that I live I had to go to the state department of education to get the report. I almost believe by federal law they had to have a copy available at the school.
What questions should I be asking myself before I get into this trade?
Do you plan on quitting your current job to study full time? If the school
requires you to do some on the job training as part of the requirement how
do you plan on doing this? Few HVAC/R places work after 5PM or on
Sat. just for you. My school worked out a way that over several
semesters I could fill that requirement by doing work in the school shop/lab.
If your independently wealthy or just won the mega lottery then
quitting your job might work out best. Really, plan ahead and be aware of
what your getting yourself into. If you quit school uncompleted you
still have to repay student loans. Even bankruptcy won't ex sponge your
responsibility to repay.
Do you like to study? You'll probably see both sides of the debate on
NATE certification. NATE is blah blah bull sh... You know what it ain't
going away anytime soon. It's just that some haven't seen the writing.
Some employers pay more for it, others could give a crap. That employer
who wants it is probably is covering his rear if they are sued hoping to keep their business. It's better to plead due diligence by having industry certified techs to have a leg to stand on. If you do some independent studying, even me with no experience to speak of, passed the exams I have taken.
Any useful information that you can provide would be much appreciated.
Do you like working with the public? Maybe you already do in your current
position. I remember my HVAC/R adviser telling about a student who went
through the program. He started working an internship and hated the face
to face customer contact. Not good.
Originally Posted by jpsmith1cm
Individuals who make comments like this are an embarrassment to their trade.
Especially your final comment!
If a person with this attitude and outlook worked for me I would show them the door or better yet assign a beginner to you and let your life become a living he11 and when your done with that one here's another one and then I'd kick your rear out the door as in terminated.
If I was Drew and read your comments I'd say to he11 with this trade.
and I'm the embarassment?
Originally Posted by BigDick
Originally Posted by BigDick
If his skin is so thin that he would bristle at that last comment, he would not make it in this trade anyway. He's probably tired of putting new wiper blades on a '94 Cavalier, and have the woman come back saying, "ever since you changed those windshield wipers, my car stalls out at stop signs."
Everyone needs to pay their dues. When I was 16 I was changing tires at a Firestone store. Was I ready for engine performance diagnostics? Not on your life. Would a mechanic, even a Master Tech, be ready to be a controls guy? Not on this planet.
Now it is true that auto repair went into the dumper, for a number of reasons. Everyone thought that emissions requirements were a golden egg, until every shop started doing diags for free just to sell the repair. Now, a guy can go to an auto store and get the kid at the cash register to scan his codes, and sell him a bunch of parts that may or may not solve the issue, but now he has receipts for the parts and if he spent enough, he can get an emissions waiver. Then there are the big warranties. Why go to a regular shop when you have a 100k mile warranty at the dealer?
So, I can't fault this guy for wanting out, and big time.
Why doesn't someone suggest he become an apprentice in a UA program?
Hey, I just suggested that.
Last edited by timebuilder; 09-26-2009 at 10:18 PM.
[Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
2 Tim 3:16-17
RSES CMS, HVAC Electrical Specialist
AOP Forum Rules:
jpsmith1cm didn't make an insulting comment.
Originally Posted by BigDick
Last edited by beenthere; 09-26-2009 at 01:51 PM.