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  1. #1

    HVAC Tech vs. Car Mechanic

    Hi everyone,

    So I was just talking to my neighbor earlier today and after I told him that I am pursuing HVAC, he told me that he is seriously considering becoming a car mechanic. I don't know much about demand for car mechanics, but I do know that lots of dealerships, which employ mechanics, shut down. Does anyone know whether car mechanics or HVAC techs are in greater demand?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Lady Lake, Florida
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    799
    It's possible. I have seen lots of automotive technician jobs posted here in the new england area as well as ads for auto tech schools for the past 4 months. During my past predictiment of being a layed off hvac tech I have considered going to schools for marine engine repair since I would consider that as something different to do as a retirement job and work down south.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Upper Midwest
    Posts
    54
    I don't know how the demand for an auto mechanic is but HVAC Techs are paid hourly, auto mechanics are paid per job. There is a book businesses use called the flat rate book. The book lists the amount that a car mechanic gets paid per job and how long the repair will take. Regardless of how long the job takes for a mechanic they only get paid what the book says. If the job takes longer than the estimated time for the mechanic they still get paid the same. The cost to the customer is still the same and the profit the business makes is still the same. Its the mechanic who picks up the slack and loses the money. Not the business. The longer they take on one repair they are making, the more jobs they lose to other mechanics in their shop who are able to complete their jobs more quickly. Also, there are TONS of tools that a mechanic has to buy with their own money including the special purpose tools which in total costs about $5k.

    I was never an auto mechanic. During my junior year in high school, I went to a secondary technical education program at a local college for auto mechanics and went to a dealership for do a job shadow. I saw how disgruntled those mechanics were and how some guys got treated more favorably, even though they were not as good as a few of the other mechanics. After that I decided...no f'ing way am I being an auto mechanic. My senior year of high school I went to college for hvac. The first year was free because I had not graduated from the public school system and am glad that i did it. I wouldn't listen to your neighbor. What does he do for a living? I'm guessing he isn't a car mechanic.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Nova-Scotia, Canada
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    271
    Unless you love working on cars, at least in our economy it's not worth it. My employers brother is kind of the night mechanic/manager for transport trucks and he topped out at $25/hr. Sometimes dealerships will do peace work in which case you get an alloted amount of time to do something but other than that ive been told to avoid it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Southeastern Pa
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    18,556
    Quote Originally Posted by Confused NYC View Post
    Hi everyone,

    So I was just talking to my neighbor earlier today and after I told him that I am pursuing HVAC, he told me that he is seriously considering becoming a car mechanic. I don't know much about demand for car mechanics, but I do know that lots of dealerships, which employ mechanics, shut down. Does anyone know whether car mechanics or HVAC techs are in greater demand?

    Thanks
    The difference is SUPPLY, not demand.

    In the US and many other places, we have a "car hobby."

    This means that basic info about cars and their systems is widely discussed and practiced. Parts are sold through retail outlets and advertised on TV. Scans of the ECM are nearly always made without a direct charge on a bill.

    This means that there is a steady supply of young men who love cars, and love working on them. This drives down the value (and therefore, the wages) of every mechanic, making the skillset less valuable to a potential employer. After 5 or ten years you can make a decent income, but compared to HVAC, the conditions are terrible and the coworkers are undereducated.

    There is no "air conditioning hobby."

    No one will stand on a corner and admire the new condensing unit outside a home.

    None of these young car guys really understand AC, and there is usually ONE guy in every car shop that has sufficient knowledge to fix AC.

    If you care about your friend, I'd try and dissuade him. It's a dead end treadmill for most guys. Tell him to get an education, that will serve him better.
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
    2 Tim 3:16-17

    RSES CMS, HVAC Electrical Specialist

    AOP Forum Rules:







  6. #6

  7. #7
    I actually agree with you 100% timebuilder. I never met anyone who likes playing around with ACs as a hobby. You would imagine, as I once did, that car repair is more lucrative because there are far more cars out there than there are HVAC units. But then that just results in more mechanics.

    I never knew mechanics were only paid by the job. That kind of stinks. I'm no lawyer, but it might even be illegal because if work is slow, the mechanic can earn less than the minimum wage. If you get $45 for instance to do a 30 minute job and that is the only thing you do for an 8 hour shift, your pay comes out to less than the hourly minimum wage.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    North Carolina
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    Quote Originally Posted by timebuilder View Post
    The difference is SUPPLY, not demand.

    In the US and many other places, we have a "car hobby."

    This means that basic info about cars and their systems is widely discussed and practiced. Parts are sold through retail outlets and advertised on TV. Scans of the ECM are nearly always made without a direct charge on a bill.

    This means that there is a steady supply of young men who love cars, and love working on them. This drives down the value (and therefore, the wages) of every mechanic, making the skillset less valuable to a potential employer. After 5 or ten years you can make a decent income, but compared to HVAC, the conditions are terrible and the coworkers are undereducated.

    There is no "air conditioning hobby."

    No one will stand on a corner and admire the new condensing unit outside a home.

    None of these young car guys really understand AC, and there is usually ONE guy in every car shop that has sufficient knowledge to fix AC.

    If you care about your friend, I'd try and dissuade him. It's a dead end treadmill for most guys. Tell him to get an education, that will serve him better.
    Nice Spin Time. I do know that a very few HVAC firms will consider hiring an auto mechanic as a maintenance technician. The level of education and training needed to make it to service tech?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
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    1,031
    if you're into heavy equipment technician, the future is brighter. no one admiring their new JCB digger or cat dozer...lol. my good friend is heavy eqp tech apprentice and he's make decent living.

    but I crawl in the attic trying to change condensate trap wedged under the unit. so my advice is as good as it get.
    Parts Changer Extraordinaire
    ------------------------------------------------------
    Have tools and gauges, will travel.

    RIDGID|YELLOW JACKET|UEI|TESTO|STANLEY|CPS|VETO| KLEIN|MILWAUKEE|MASTERCRAFT|

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Southeastern Pa
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    Quote Originally Posted by Confused NYC View Post
    I actually agree with you 100% timebuilder. I never met anyone who likes playing around with ACs as a hobby. You would imagine, as I once did, that car repair is more lucrative because there are far more cars out there than there are HVAC units. But then that just results in more mechanics.

    I never knew mechanics were only paid by the job. That kind of stinks. I'm no lawyer, but it might even be illegal because if work is slow, the mechanic can earn less than the minimum wage. If you get $45 for instance to do a 30 minute job and that is the only thing you do for an 8 hour shift, your pay comes out to less than the hourly minimum wage.

    The laws for pay vary by state.

    For example, in Pennsylvania, there are three areas of employment that I recall which are exempt from the normal 40 hour OT rules.

    Aviation mechanic
    Auto mechanic
    Agricultural worker

    My point is that there are dozens of kids who have some auto experience for every auto tech job, and far, far fewer for AC tech jobs.

    Cars are already moving toward the parts replacer category of mechanic. Things that once were rebuilt in the auto shop are now replaced with new or reconditioned parts, so you don't have to have a tech there who can rebuild a starter, for example. Just remove one, and put the new one in. No knolwege of the failure required.

    The auto industry is doing everything it can to dumb down repair, to keep costs down in their dealerships.

    You are much better off in AC, for now.
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
    2 Tim 3:16-17

    RSES CMS, HVAC Electrical Specialist

    AOP Forum Rules:







  11. #11
    THanks so much for the insights timebuilder. I did not know much about auto mechanics so that advice is helpful. I always had a sneaking suspcion that it is the goal of the auto compnaies to put independent garages out of business so that everyone has to go to the dealership, where parts and labor cost 2 and 3 times as much. With the hybrid and electric cars coming on the market, they might be able to do so one day...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Scranton, PA
    Posts
    32
    i went to school for hvac-r being an auto mechanic was my second choice but i chose hvac-r. Now im agrivated because there are mechanic jobs everywhere and no hvac jobs. Where have all the hvac jobs gone??? Is it true companys wait till may to start hiring????

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Alpena AR
    Posts
    53
    It depends on the area..Alot of companies around here will hire in the spring and summer months then lay off through the winter...

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