I was laid-off from a previous employer, after investing $20,000 on an education and 7 years in a job (Technical Support Engineer), that is being off-shored to India and Canada, with no prospects of employment opportunities any time soon.
I'm 35 and have decided to go back to school, yet again, and make another attempt at a career change. This time I'm sticking to a service industry you can't send over seas or import employees from a third-world county and pay minimum wage to do --- I need that job security with 3 children and a mortgage.
I'm new to the HVAC field and have enrolled in a 2-year HVAC A.S. Degree program at my local Tech College and anticipate starting 9/2005. I have read through some posts on this site, started researching the NATE and EPA certifications, purchased and started reading Modern Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, and have started accumulating HVAC tools as specified by my Tech Colleges required tools list.
I come from a technical background in Computer Networking products (3Com, Cisco, PBX's etc.) and understand that a combination of Practical real-world application of the Theory is needed to solidify technical and mechanical concepts.
I realistically do not have 2 years to devote and wait for a return on my investment -- "Daddies got to pay the bills". The 2-year program involves 6 courses per semester, for four semesters, which eats up all of my time Monday-Friday, 6am-4pm for 2-years. I've looked at other programs in my area (NEFI offers a couple Heating and AC programs that last 1 month in duration), but do not know what is the best way to approach my career path/change or if any of the training programs are worth the investment.
I have thought of buying and acquiring used AC and Heating equipment and creating an HVAC Lab in my garage, sitting down with a lot of service manuals and other text materials, and banging around on the equipment until I teach myself HVAC.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.