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  1. #1
    How do you begin a carreer in controls work?

    I have half my life in this industry, but not alot with controls themselves.

    I have lots of computer background. LAN, wireless 802.1 stuff. Ran lots of CAT-5, CAT-3. Even some glass.

    But where does one apply this knowledge and get an entry level start?


    Thank you for any and all sugestions.

  2. #2
    Hmmmm... You have the practical experience, now spread your wings and take on more of the tasks that were left to the "control guy" before. That's what I am and have been doing and soon I will be doing only controls. I've been kind of forced in this direction because our controls sub sucks and I'm an impatient bastard, basically I told my boss that if they wouldn't jump for us I'd do the work and it's worked out. Augment your OJT with classes and you'll be on your way.

    Any job leads yet?

  3. #3
    Originally posted by control_noob
    Any job leads yet?
    No. And it is drivng me nuts.

    I am project oriented. I need something that I can dwell on otherwise I go crazy!
    And right now .. I go thru periods of okay and other times it's insane.


    I've shaved my beard, updated and revanped my resume, polished my interview skills, etc., etc. ....



  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Rapid City, SD
    Posts
    7,415
    Good thread so far, hopefully some more people will chime in with some more advise.

    I'm not looking to go only into contols, but eventually I'd like to know more than the average Joe in this area. I've talked with a control guy from my area (one of the better companies), and asked a similar question. Basically I was left feeling like most of the knowledge I have already learned isn't going to benifit me. If I'm serious about it to ditch service/installs and become an electrician.

    Now I do understand that you have to know electricity very well to do this kind of work, but surely there has to be a good way to step over from hvac to controls with out starting over isn't there?

    P.S. Not intending to hijack your thread or steer it into another direction... too much anyway :-)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Upstate SC
    Posts
    384
    R-12 , you might want to contact the local division of Johnson Controls. they have been know to hire Much less experienced people.

    I also know they have a training prog, for there employees, we have just dedicated / allocated lab and class room space for them to start their prog here in the upstate of SC.

    Worth a shot !!!!!!!

  6. #6
    Originally posted by amickracing
    Basically I was left feeling like most of the knowledge I have already learned isn't going to benifit me. If I'm serious about it to ditch service/installs and become an electrician.

    Now I do understand that you have to know electricity very well to do this kind of work, but surely there has to be a good way to step over from hvac to controls with out starting over isn't there?

    The experience you have in HVAC will be priceless if you move over to controls. An electrician is not a control guy, like a control guy is not an electrician. You must have a good understanding of electricity as it relates to HVAC, as an HVAC tech you are way closer to being a control guy than an electrician. And here is a bold statement: the control guy that understands what the HVAC system is supposed to do will eat the lunch of a straight control guy.

    As time allows, investigate *how* the EMS acts on the system, ask questions if the control guy is receptive (most aren't), take time to read about the controls you have seen on site, snoop through control schematics found on site... I basically started learning controls the day I got tired of asking someone else "can you make the A/C come on now?" :-)

  7. #7
    There are different areas in controls just like any other trade. Your HVAC experience is not going to help if you are getting a job with a company that does mainly lighting and access control, likewise having electrical wiring experience isnt going to help you much when you are planning and troubleshooting a sequence of operation for an AHU.

    It seems at least in my rural area that most of the "controls" contractors are electricians who are mounting and wiring the controllers and sensors and then they have a factory / branch guy there for 1 or 2 days doing the programming.

    There is also the service end to consider. Also you have to decide what kind of a company you want to work for. (Big corp. or do you want a mom & pop type company?)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Fort Worth\Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    1,708
    I myself have recently left the hvac service for a full time controls position. I was lucky because our company started a controls division about two years ago and I ended up transfering over. I have been doing this full time for a year.

    Most control companies will jump at the chance to hire a seasoned hvac tech because it is alot easier to teach a person that has hvac background the controls side.

    I was offered a job with Trane and Johnson with no programming background.

    Installing and wiring controls are the easy part. Engineering and programming is what I still struggle with.

    So as stated in previous post check with your local Johnson or Trane branch and see if they are hiring.

    Good Luck!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Annapolis,MD
    Posts
    1
    I got started in an entry level position doing maintance with several other seasoned techs at one site and just started helping the other techs with control work until I could do some of the work by myself and just went from there.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Puyallup,WA.
    Posts
    51
    Forums like this one are how I started educating myself about automation controls 7 yrs ago. Started programming PlC and programmable relays in free time. Now, when our company quotes anything involving controls, the boss comes to me for solutions. If you need pics, reference materials, contact information let me know.

  11. #11
    Originally posted by coldmilk
    Forums like this one are how I started educating myself about automation controls 7 yrs ago. Started programming PlC and programmable relays in free time. Now, when our company quotes anything involving controls, the boss comes to me for solutions. If you need pics, reference materials, contact information let me know.
    Reed,

    Please to click on the little red dog house at bottom of my post.

    Thanks.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    1,382
    Originally posted by R12rules
    How do you begin a carreer in controls work?
    Hmmm. I used to be boat mechanic, Navy type, PBR's. When the Navy later assigned me to big ships, engine rooms and boilers. I'd get curious when we needed to call an Auxilliaries guy to fix a centrifugal AC unit or refrigeration syste,

    I'd get curious, and be a bit irked that something that confounded me, seemed so easy to him. So I'd always be looking over his shoulder, asking questions, asking if I could borrow a tech manual to read, and would help him with the heavy, dirty, sweaty part of his work.

    After a while ... I didn't need to call him much, if at all.

    Then there were those Hagen Automated Boiler Controls, which I knew nothing much about. In fact, when they acted up, we'd have to get our onboard "expert" to come fix things. Same thing. I'd hang around watching, asking questions, lend him a hand with the dumb, boring parts of the job he'd as soon not do anyway.

    <G> Then one day I ended up being the "expert" guy people called.

    Anytime I worked with something I didn't know or understand well, I did pretty much the same. Spent a LOT of my own time helping out someone else, from whom I hoped to learn. And begged, borrowed, and maybe even light-fingered more than just a few tech manuals and other literature. Much of which I still have.

    Later got my degree, via night classes, correspondence classes, and challenge tests.

    Not a degree in controls, BTW. But I was always interested particularly in controls. I don't believe in "Black Boxes", and just following the instructions to install em. I always started investigating and finding out what that durned Black Box did and how it did it. Or how that intelligent, self modulating and adjusting valve did what it did. And ... WHY.

    When I retired from the Navy and worked for a phone company as an in-house "facilities" manager, I was responsible for a few hundred buildings. Most of which were pretty small "switch houses". But some were fairly large network centers, customer service centers, etc. And we had a conglomeration of equipment. Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Andover, you name it. We had it somewhere.

    Fact was, many a time we'd be having problems and whichever local vendor or contractor we used for whatever control system wouldn't come. Or wouldn't come NOW. When we wanted him to, and as required by our contracts, which said vendor signed.

    Plus, more than a few time, the contractor was BSing us to the max ... and beyond. System wouldn't perform as advertised and guaranteed. Guy would give me a BS excuse. Or some other song and dance.

    <Shrug> So I started to learn Honeywell, Johnson Control, Andover, etc. Even paid out of my own pocket to attend an Andover school.

    <G> Pretty soon I didn't need to call those BSing contractors much, any more. Not that I didn't call any. The good ones I kept, bad ones I "fired". Screw em. Fixed, replaced, or installed the stuff in those areas myself.

    (I had responsibility for a whole state worth of buildings, so used a number of contractors.)

    Anyway, when I called it quits with the phone company, and went looking for a job, I found the company for whom I work now. At the time they were looking for a controls guy with a background in a particular line of controls. About which I knew nothing. But then, neither did much of anyone else ... who was looking for a job.

    I told the fellow I interviewed with that I didn't know squat about those controls, but did know others. Andover, Honeywell, etc.

    He asked if I thought I could learn a new one and asked if I wanted to give it a shot. No schools ... no time, they needed me NOW. Could I teach self if they gave me a set of manuals?

    <G> I went home with a stack of manuals, and hopped in with both feet. 3 days later I took over a project. Granted that I had help. Phone number of another guy with the company I could call if I had questions.

    Point is, the interviewer later told me he selected me because others he interviewed backed off when faced with something totally new to them. I didn't.

    I figured I knew the basics. Sure as hell know HVAC systems, and other other manufactureres of controls did things ... and WHY. So how hard could a new system be?

    If you know what needs to be done and why, then learning a new way to do it really isn't that hard.

    I don't know about your area, but around here, while it's not frequent ... it is REGULAR that this or that company is looking for someone not afraid to give controls a try.

    Also around here, just about as common to find a controls guy with a mechanical background as with an electrician background. In the company for whom I work, it's nearly 50/50. With most of the electrical types having had a lot of prior experience in HVAC systems.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Central Pa
    Posts
    7
    I was a commercial HVAC tech for about 8 years, and was always interested in controls. I applied to every major controls company I could think of. I had virtually no controls experience, and limited computer skills. My knowledge of HVAC is what got me the job. I have worked for JCI for almost 2 years, and am now managing/programming entire projects. You'd be surprised at just how fast you can get good at this stuff if you truly understand what the controls are supposed to do already.

    I was willing to move, and took a pay cut (at first) compared to what I made as a tech. I don't think I could have made a better decision though. I don't have any on-call, I don't have to sweat on hot, or cold roof tops, breaking my back on a compressor, or coil, or fan, or motor replacement. I miss it sometimes, but the technical challenges are about equal.

    Apply everywhere. With your experience you should be highly sought after.

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