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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    3
    Hello HVAC people,

    I appologize if this letter isn't allowed on this forum but I don't know who else to ask.

    I need to switch careers. I am interested to become a HVAC technician and ultimately become a HVAC contractor in Arizona. Only obvious steps I know is to go to a HVAC school, and then take tests to obtain a contractor license. I found books I can purchase on-line but there is a lingering question of whether that is the correct thing to do.

    I used to be in the semiconductor industry and an airframe/powerplant mechanic on aircraft. I had basic A/C training, sheetmetal work, controller/electronics, electrical and I am real good on mechanical. Now simple economics hasn't shined on me for years for I work for a small elementry school as a bus driver in the middle of a desert. Sometimes I perform preventitive maintenance on water heaters and heat pumps on school campus to make up hours. But frankly, I know I can do much better inspecting these units.

    Needless to say, I need to gain working knowledge of HVAC systems as so to get hired in the HVAC industry without spending what little money I have.

    I am calling on you folks whom wish you knew then, to what you know now. I read all sorts of things and having problems sorting it out. I guess my questions are:

    1. Other than going to school or online training, is there another way to achieve a HVAC certificate?

    2. If I read everything there is to know about HVAC, isn't there a certificate test to take to validate my knowledge?

    3. Besides that EPA type license to service refrigerant in heat pumps, are there other endorsments that go along with a HVAC cert? (I read somewhere about getting a 'A' license in one of the forums. I don't know what that means)

    4. What good web sites or books you know that may have this info and study guides?

    5. And importantly, what proper steps must I take to at least gain the HVAC cert.

    Thank you for your time in advance
    Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,338
    1. Other than going to school or online training, is there another way to achieve a HVAC certificate?

    I am seeking certification through the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES). Although I've been in the trade a long time I want a certification to my name, and the RSES CM certification is well regarded in the industry.

    Most of my training and experience was on the job. I started out in hotel maintenance unstopping toilets and keeping the place looking pretty and wriggled my way into working on the hotel's ice machines and HVAC. From there I moved on to service technician work and faciltites maintenance and management.
    When you start out in this trade, whether you went to school or not, you will start doing the grunt work no matter what. Known as "paying your dues". Your employer will be watching to see if you have potential to develop into a good technician, and from a contractor's standpiont, a profitable one. So if he tells you to go out back and organize the stockroom in the shop, go out there and come up with the best damn organized stock that shop has ever seen.

    [i[2. If I read everything there is to know about HVAC, isn't there a certificate test to take to validate my knowledge? [/i]

    There's a saying among street car enthusiasts that goes: "There's no replacement for displacement", meaning that nothing beats a large displacement engine tuned to the right drivetrain and chassis on a hot rod. A similar saying applies in your case; there's no replacement for hands-on training and experience. You can read books all day but you'll inevitable come across a question on a test that will kick your butt because you have no field experience or training to nail the answer correctly.

    3. Besides that EPA type license to service refrigerant in heat pumps, are there other endorsments that go along with a HVAC cert? (I read somewhere about getting a 'A' license in one of the forums. I don't know what that means)

    The EPA Refrigerant Transistion and Recovery Certification is just that; it certifies you legally that you understand the refrigerant transistion process and timetable, and that you understand the necessity for recovering refrigerant. It does not teach you HOW to recover refrigerant! It allows you to legally access refrigeration systems with a set of gauges, and allows you to legally purchace and possess refrigerant.
    That being said, when you go for your EPA Certification, do your best to be certified Universal. There is plenty of material available to help you study for this test, and my understanding is it is now an open book test, It was not when I took the test almost ten years ago.

    4. What good web sites or books you know that may have this info and study guides?

    Go to http://www.rses.org and browse their material. Also, http://www.hvacmall.com has a ton of links to various sources within the industry, and several training links. Another link to try is http://www.refrigerationschool.com/ You mentioned you're driving a school bus in the desert...would it happen to be in Arizona? This RSI school appears to be in Phoenix.

    If you live near a large city, look into community colleges as a possible source for training.

    5. And importantly, what proper steps must I take to at least gain the HVAC cert.

    Whatever route you take to get there, stick with it! With your background you'll likely pick this stuff up pretty quick, but don't fret when you come across anything that stumps you. Even those of us in the trade for some time get bamboozled by something now and then, and feel dumb when we learn how to fix it. But that's just the territory, and the day the learning stops is the day they're sounding taps for this old dog!






  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    3
    I'm grateful of your reply, shophound! This should get me started. Yes, I do live in Arizona and that school seems promising. Your info should help me a lot
    Thanks again
    Mike

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati
    Posts
    7,977
    Like my Granny used to always say "Piss or get off the pot" You can't do anything but better yourself by going to school and learning a trade. Drive the bus by day and learn to be an HVAC super hero by night.With your past experience and proper training you'll do great.

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