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  1. #1
    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.


  2. #2
    Bush and his rich corporate buddies just love outsourcing our jobs, good luck in whatever ya do.
    Hey cockroach, don't bug me! ©

    www.AskTheDiceman.com

    www.TheColdConspiracy.com

    www.Pennwood-HVAC.Com

    Bring Em Home....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    33,917
    I went from computer sales to this industry. Always wanted to be in it, why I do not know, but studied up even while in my other career. Spent about 8 months in school to get some hands on, then ready to work.

    We sure need sharp, trustworthy new techs in the biz. Too many I think went into computers instead of the hands-on trades. Now maybe we can get some back!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    51

    becoming a tech

    BaldLoonie,

    I will give you some good honest advice based on my life.
    Like you I was a software developer went to a good school got a BS in computer science and worked in the field. Enjoyed it very much, the perks and money were great at 26 making 70k with full benies. Got laid off in summer 01 then couldn't find a job in the business to save my life. Not even a ****ty tech support job because I was over qualified and India was calling all the jobs over. Milled around for a few years trying to break back into the tech bizz doing anything and still nothing... Now making $11 hr as a temp no benies and life on hold just barely making it, wondering when the storm will pass me by.
    Then like you I said I have had it with this crap industry up and down all the F@#$% time. By then I was 29 newly married, mortgage, wife with a good paying job, and no kids. So I started out wanting to get into the trades, since I went to a vocational high school I had good hands on skills and wasn't afraid to get dirty. I was interested in HVAC or plumbing but wasn't sure. So I took a job as a helper for an oil service company in MA making $12 an hr. I learned as much as I could about heating and doing oil service. I did not need to be humbled since I new it would be a long road and didn't consider myself to be to good to do any job no matter how menial. I have the attitude that I know were I am and were I want to be and if I have to clean up SH%& to get there so be it. Within a short time I earned everyone’s respect got my Mass license and move up faster than any helper ever had. I proved to myself that I could be could at this field and decided to press on into the HVAC field.
    I did all the research like you knew what I needed to have to become a successful tech. Left the oil company and BOUNCED or should I say got BOUNCED around a few other HVAC shops. All the while I was going to school at night for refrigeration. Finally I landed myself with a big shop unionized gas service company making now $15 hr with full benies, full apprentice paid training and working with a great group of people. I am still a helper even though I know that I can do the job better then some but not better then others. I am in good company and I am still educating myself OTJ and go to school at night, while I wait for that promotion which will put me at around $20 an hr, a service truck, and lead installer title. I enjoy what I due for the most part even though it isn't exactly were I want to be financially or job wise (want to be a commercial service tech) . It is still an up hill climb as it is in any field tough to break into and gain experience all the while support yourself and your family. Through all of this I have had a supportive wife who has supported me financially and emotionally. I owe a large part of my success to her and the fact that I lead a fairly inexpensive lifestyle and still have no little ones to support.
    I am on a good path and in a few short years will be were I want to be financially and otherwise. You can’t send this job oversees and supply and demand is on our side.

    Here is a synopsis of what I have learned:

    1) You will work you ass of physically be prepared.
    2) You will make a minimal living wage.
    3) You as a helper are everyone’s ***** accept that and you will get along with everyone just fine.
    4) All shops are not the same plenty of HVAC jobs in the paper yes but would you want to work for some of those scum bag outfits.
    5) There is a big lack of professionalism in a lot of shops big or small recognize it and move on.
    6) Recognize a hack and note what not to do.
    7) Be humble but don't let people walk all over you.
    8) If a man can't keep his word then he isn't much of a man and even less of a boss.
    9) You can learn something from everyone you work with from super tech to hack. Remember the good things and note what happens with the bad ones.
    10) Just like on the play ground at school personality is key.
    11) This isn't a overly inflated field it takes lots of work and time to make it to the top. The pay maybe less but the job will reward you in time in more ways than one.
    12) Its easy to shine in a sea of mediocrity as some said here on this board.
    13) I do work that many couldn't do my value is realized every day by the work that I perform and when sh%^& hits the fan people understand they need me.

    There is probably more but you can get my point….

  5. #5
    Thanks everyone for the advice. I feel you on making $70k and then having to start from the bottom, again, and work your way back up.

    I guess a little OJT mixed with 1-part Vocational training and 1-part Shop Slave/***** Boy is the recipe for breaking into this field. I'll give it a try and see how it goes.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Gone
    Posts
    5,340
    Originally posted by shonuff_vs_bruceleroy
    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.
    This is the best HVAC/R university in the country, and you can take classes online. You might want to check this out before you start at your local HVAC college since most are not very good.

    Good Luck

    http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/colleges...ons/online.htm

  7. #7
    That looks like a really good program, great lab for practical, but I don't have any plans on moving the fam to Big Rapids, MI.

    What are some indcations of a good HVAC/R program? Is there a certification board or organizations that certify HVAC/R programs?

    How do states, that require HVAC Techs/Mechs to be licensed, determine which programs are approved for technical training requirments for purposes of licensing?

    for example Massachusetts requires a combination of the following:
    "
    A person seeking a Refrigeration Technician License must:
    1. Completed Application with proper mailing AND home address, social security number.
    2. Copy of high school diploma or equivalency certification
    3. Attached 1" x 1.25" photo
    4. Non-refundable application processing fee ($50).
    5. Provide a copy of your CFC Certification

    AND

    6. Provide documentation from employer that you have worked not less than 6,000 hours in Massachusetts as a refrigeration apprentice or trainee.
    7. Provide documentation from an approved school that you have completed 100 hours of refrigeration theory AND 150 hours of related Massachusetts electrical code training

    OR

    6. Provide documentation from employer that you have worked not less than 4,000 hours in Massachusetts as an refrigeration apprentice or trainee.
    7. Provide documentation from an approved school that you have completed 500 hours in a refrigeration course, of which 250 hours must be shop related work, 100 hours of refrigeration theory, and 100 hours of related Massachusetts electrical code training.

    OR

    6. Documentation from employer that you have worked not less than 2,000 hours in Massachusetts as a refrigeration apprentice or trainee.

    7. Documentation from an approved school that you have completed 1000 hours in a refrigeration course, of which 700 hours must be shop related work, 100 hours of refrigeration theory, and 100 hours of related Massachusetts electrical code training.

    OR

    6. Approved by a majority vote of the Bureau

    "

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Gone
    Posts
    5,340
    Originally posted by shonuff_vs_bruceleroy
    That looks like a really good program, great lab for practical, but I don't have any plans on moving the fam to Big Rapids, MI.
    I think you missed the part where it is an "online" course, and you only have to attend the actual campus for one week, if I remember, to take and pass your lab requirements.

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