I'm 40 and considering HVAC as a career change. Live in MA and looking at the Peterson School. Pros/Cons..? I'd very much appreciate advice on job outlook and what avenue to take to get off to the best start..
I was 15 years old when I was ejected from the Baltimore City school system for being a hippie radical. The first company that believed I was 18 years old and would give me a job was an HVAC company looking for a shop laborer for their sheet metal shop.
I was 17 when i started doing repair work, working for a company my dad worked for. I left the field for a few years to be a welder, then when the plant i was working for closed i went back to HVAC and now am lead lab tech for a HVAC compressor company.
Age 32, fascinated by hvac and refrigeration after 10 years in the restaurant business. I cleaned coils, changed filters ....and viola... and it stayed cool in the restaurant and stuff broke down a lot less often.
Looked over the hvac guy's shoulder every time he came out.
Went to school 8AM to 1PM every day M-F, worked 4 PM to 1AM, got up at 5 AM to take 1 and 3 yr olds to day care before school everyday. For 2 years straight - no summers off! (Wife worked 5 am to 3PM).......I was one tired puppy......
Made A's, got offered a scholarship / free school, but I turned it down and told them to give it to the next best guy in the class who had 4 kids and no job.
18 years old in 1980
1979 HVAC vocational tech. school, never finished, it was a party though
1980 started crawling in attics doing ductwork
1981 started installing equipment
1988 got into service trade
1993 finally got better at service work
1994 got serious about learning, drew electrical schematics for a year (on my own time)
1995 picked up a commercial service tech. position
2005 after working in commercial trade for 10 years moved to Tennessee
2005 made the transition to heat pumps and furnaces, which with past experience, this was fun and easy
2009 back to Miami installing new communicating equipment
the point here is, we are always learning, it's never too late, the earlier you get started the better
if your serious and motivated, get an HVAC job, pay attention, study at home, you can make top dollar in 5 years, but this is not typical results
I was 22 when I started. I'm now 35 and FINALLY just 4 months ago got out of the field into a nice airconditioned job in the office.
Everytime I see one of the techs come in with mud from toe to elbows, cobwebs covering their hats, dust on their face, and smelling like a moldy crawlspace, I remember why I don't miss the field. Running my own bussiness for 6 years ruined the "thrill of the field" for me I guess.
Now all I have to do is show up, sell stuff, and answer technical questions.
In a 70 degree office with a cold mountain dew in my hand, instead of a 170 degree attic with hot insulation down my shirt.......I'm blessed!
I was 16 years old on work study ( early dismiss ) in high school. I swept the floor and insulated duct ( liner ) in a sheet metal shop ( 1986 ). One day , about 3 months into the job , I asked " what the hell are we making anyway " ? The shop foreman pointed up at the ceiling ( to the exposed rectangular duct providing cool air into the shop ). I was not impressed , lol.
I was 27, and that was five yrs ago now. I had worked in sales/retail and it grew tiresome. So when my inlaws offered me an opporunity to work for them, I cautiously accepted. I started at 10 dollars an hour, so i took a 50,000 dollar paycut to be a helper for a kid that was 23. I was green.....like i never did anything remotely close to working with my hands. 5 yrs later and this is my first season as a service tech, and i don't regret my decision one bit. good luck to the OP.
Tried other things... ended up doing residential remodeling; kitchens, baths, room additions, etc... Good at it. Never built homes though... not sure why.
In the latter '90's I was finishing basements, and had a problem with HVAC contractors... they wanted to size the system in the basement at 600-700 ft/ton... It did not take a rocket scientist to realize that would not work (properly).
I learned the HVAC trade by reading a lot of books and fiddling with it. A friend that did my basements signed me off and I took the test... earned a 93 the first time.
Received my license in 2002, I was 50 at the time. Now I am closer to 60, and thoroughly enjoy the trade.