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  1. #1
    Ok here is the deal I have a degree in electronics emphasis on IP which is PLC or industrial process control. I am seriously considering going for a bachelors degree in Building Automation because it looks so fun. The school I am going to is they have a program there that is funded by Siemens. I would like to know if it is worth it as I can not find much info on job types and pay ranges in this field. Dont get me wrong now cause pay is not everything, but it is nice and I do have a family to support. With my associates in PLCs I am around 18.00 an hour. Am I looking at a paycut increase what? I do have the electrnics and controls stuff down PID networking cert that kinda stuff. PC skills are solid as well Pneumatic, 3-phase and so on. Is this degree worth it or are jobs there without? How does Siemens pay compared to others? Heck what do others pay?

    Thanks for all who reply
    Reagards Bryan

  2. #2

    wow no help huh?

    Thought this was a forum for controls guys? What gives all these people read but no reply.?? I may just decide to stick with PLC.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    South Dakota

    You will need to learn the mechanical and air side of HVAC well so that you will know the sequences of operation, what needs to happen and when it needs to happen. You need a good course in HVAC fundamentals and then learn about economizers, vav and cv units, cooling stages, heating sequences and more.

    After that you can probably get a controls position making about the same you currently make.

    RSES has some pretty good study material on all of this as well as controls that you could study on your own as well.

    Most HVAC manufacturers also have classes. Johnson Controls has classes on all this stuff for both their own people as well as non employees but all their classes are expensive.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Southern California
    Originally posted by NormChris

    After that you can probably get a controls position making about the same you currently make.
    That's $18/hr. Is that an entry level wage? If so, what would an experinced controls tech make after 5 yrs?
    I suppose it depends on the techs talent, company worked for, and location.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Gee you get IRKED if nobody responds in less than 24 hours , wait until your stuck waiting for approval on a controller or control sequence that is yet to be installed but needs to be in operation like YESTERDAYand see the FUN factor.

    PLC is your basic LADDER LOGIC with a few added features DDC comes in many varieties from very simple to totally complicated.

    HVAC background is very helpful to have and a Pneumatics background or good understanding is also a benefit

  6. #6
    Nah!! controlman I was just trying to get a reply after seeing about 40 people had viewed the original post and no response. Not 'irked' at all. Thanks for the post though : )

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Depending on where you are located and the demand - my guess is you could go to work for a controls company right now! Granted, you would be entry-level and need to learn HVAC - but there is really nothing holding you back from making the jump now. I would kill for someone with your skills and would put you with someone who would teach you HVAC. That way you can experience the field and see if that specific bachelor's degree is what you want. My experience is a BSME is better in that you don't too narrowly focus on one field - but get all the fundamentals you will need for this or many other related fields. Check it out.

  8. #8
    My experience has been that control techs make a little less than a mechanical service tech, and a little more than programmers. In my area of Ohio a Mechanical hvac service tech makes about 30 an hour where a control tech makes about 27

  9. #9
    Thats funny to hear eddy. I recently had a conversation with a Siemens recruiter and she told me they could only offer entry level techs 33 a yr. Heck thats barely even 15 an hour.

    Are you talking about union work?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    The key word is 'entry-level'. Unfortunately I have come across way too many systems that were installed by brilliant 'controls' guys that had no clue how the system was supposed to operate. Concepts like economizers, enthalpy, and static pressure are not always understood by the control guys. All the money that their controls were going to save the customer get lost right here.

    For instance, I have been servicing a large college campus this winter that uses 2 control contractors. Both have good reputations and some very smart electronics and programming guys. In one case I noticed many outdoor air dampers opening almost 100% on exremely cold days and preheat coils wide open to maintain 55f mixed air temps. When I asked the programmer what this was all about he explained that this is how he did minimum fresh air volume, just like the balancers do. He used the delta T between return air and outdoor air to calculate the percentage that the outdoor air damper should open to achieve the desired 'mixed air temp', ergo proper volume of OA. Makes sense, right? Sort of, until you realize that the majority of these air handlers have return fans and exhaust dampers that are slaved off the supply fan drive and the OA and MA dampers. Because the 'actual' mixed air temp is not looked at in the equation, in many cases, most of the return air is discharged outdoors as the dampers drive open and actual mixed air temps at the dampers may be in the area of 20f or so. These systems have been operating for years like this and nothing has been done yet even after I brought this up. Would you be suprised if I told you that most freeze-stats on this campus are jumped out? In instances where the mixed air temps were looked at in the equation I found several with the logic reversed. As the mixed air temps dropped, the dampers opened more. OUCH!!!!

    Another instance on the same campus but different controls contractor..... Two steam boilers in a relatively small building , I notice that on cold days the heat comes up very slow. Maintenance guys frequently over-ride boilers to 'ON' but they really dont know why they have to do this. I looked at the program on a control system that I have never seen before. Found what looks like Visio type program. There was an elaborate lead/lag program and an outdoor reset schedule that I am guessing were copy and paste jobs. The problem with this system was, even though there were several calculations to swap the lead and lag etc. there was no provision to bring on a '2nd stage'. Therefor only one boiler would run no matter what the load was in the building. This system has been in place for 2 years.

    This is not meant to demean you or any other controls guy but understand that as others have said, you really need a good understanding of HVAC systems to be a good controls guy. Great programmers can really screw up a system.
    Until then, hopefully you will only be considered 'entry-level'.

  11. #11
    Yes Union, and I am speaking of Journeyman rates, entry level will be decided on experience and testing when you join the union, You willbe placed somewhere in the ten year program, lets you get credit for 5 years your pay would be about 23 an hour to start.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    No question - you can't "do" controls unless you understand the equipment you are controlling. Even more importantly - the correct sequence of operations and appropriate control scheme must be implemented. Unfortunately, MY experience is that many of the HVAC guys, especially the operators, are un- or misinformed on their equipment and operations and are in the dark on how their own systems work. Often times they will 'jump out' or disconnect controls (bandaid approach) and walk away, and not try to identify the underlying problem. Many times this IS a control difficiency - but we can't fix what we don't or can't control. Communication is key.

    It all comes down to training and education - for all parties. Until owners start treating their property as an asset - we are all just p*ssin' in the wind.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2002
    You would think that industrial would pay more than HVAC.

    Alot of HVAC is starting to get "canned" applications. It's getting easier.

    Also, any guy with HVAC experience that starts doing controls has a ton to learn about controllers, loops, etc... If you have that knowledge you have a big headstart on them.

    Guys like to say (and no offense) that you can't "do" controls unless you understand the equipment.... well, you can't "do" controls unless you understand controllers (I/O-PID-protocols-programming).. works both ways.

    You need experience one way or the other.

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