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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Farmington MI.
    Posts
    3

    Career Dilemma...

    I have an AAS Degree in HVAC/R Technology from a school in Michigan that I completed in 2004. I worked steadily in the trade doing residential and commercial install up until 3-years ago. Due to the economy in Michigan I was forced to relocate for a job outside of the trade. (I installed Fiber-Optics on the East Coast). Now, I am home and have been going to one of the States "Big-3" Universities for the last 2-years in pursuit of a Mechanical Engineering Degree. I'm holding a 3.4 GPA and am learning a great deal, but my University is all about automotive engineering and a transfer to Ferris State for their HVAC program is out of the question. I am a non-traditional student, 31-years old and married w/ children.

    I would love to continue my education but the bills are starting to rack up (despite my scholarships) and I see a good time to just go ahead and get the State License and start out on my own. I get enough seasonal word of mouth work to keep me getting by. Of course, my fear in that lies that I will not be able to get a job with any other companies due to the license.

    I love system design and installation. I am not a service tech but I am getting good at even that. I either want to land a job designing the "big boy" systems (Hence the ME degree), or would like to find someone that would take the time to teach me more of the service side of the industry. Kind of like an internship.

    1) What would be the best way to approach an employer, in this economy (Michigan) and convince them to bring me on with there company to learn part time? (NOT while I was doing side work of course. I would be glad to make that commitment provided I was LEARNING something). This would be during the semester and I take 13-14 credits at a time.

    2) Will passing the State exam this Fall prevent me from finding a job/internship in my State? I live in the Metro Detroit area to be a little more specific.

    I am an active member of SAE, ASCE and AEE Societies and am currently studying for the NATE, LEED AP and CEM certifications. I have 608 1 and 2. Would these credentials make me seem over qualified to the average HVAC company?

    These questions may seem "green", but I have been out of the trade for awhile and am weighing my future options. I have no doubt that I would succeed in business, but I have MUCH more to learn. I have all of the ASHRAE manuals as well as many of the trade books that I stay current on. Still, not to many "Reputable" companies in my area are looking to teach someone anything and books don't bring experience.

    What do you suggest?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    315

    Hello Friend

    Heya
    I am in Grand Blanc. I want to tell you that your education and state licensing will just about trump anything. I would say my degree actually hurt some job prospects because people where like oh my god this dude has a BS from Ferris in HVAC we cant pay him, the end. When I knew well in advance that I wanted to be the guy on his back working on the chillers. And that is when I kind of learned how to do things.
    1) I found out that approaching a manager or owner of a company and just talking about a future position or my resume would get me farther than mailing or emailing it. You need to make them understand your intentions.
    2) There are a lot of smart dudes out there who got a AAS, go for the BS, it is going to cost you more and stress you out more, but it will put you ahead, granted you are getting it from a well known school (not phoenix u).
    3) The state license, if you are qualified is like your education, good insurance, something good to keep in your back pocket, exc.... GET IT. Be aware of what you are interviewing for-you dont need to put State of Michigan licensure in blah blah if you are going to be a tech at Joes Refrigeration, they will never interview you, but if you are going for a job at a university or school district or government then hell yah, list that sucka!!!
    4) As far as NATE, ICE, HVAC Excellence they are great but as far as me and you go, a waste, they can be expensive and really get you no where. When it comes to hiring a guy that is either nate certified (payed an astronomical fee for a test that says nothing about your skill level) , holds an engineering degree (studied a principal at a well known school and passed), holds state licensing (when you get this it means this guy is so competent that the state has his back, also it means this guy is backed by the state and much easier to insure)- If it where me interviewing guys for a boiler/chiller/controls mechanic I am going with the college guy.
    5) I would get the universal license and 410a license, I can test you for the Type III if you want. And I still think some supply houses offer free 410a testing. These are good to have because if you by chance get caught working on this, which you will, there could be problems.

    You kind of sound like me, I wanted to design big systems, and have my designs come to life. I spent 6 months designing control systems for Institutional/ industrial hvacr and I thought I was going to go nuts. I needed the challenge of a 400 bhp boiler, more hands on ya know.

    And is far as a business, maybe, but from my own perspective, there is just to much out there right now to go legit, I sat for the unlimited service last fall for the state and there must have been about 500 people getting a license in something HVACR related. I was told by another member to have a business plan nailed down to a t. One thing I know when I do go legal I am going to invest in a great salesman, get a good salesman and he will bring you the jobs.

    But I would get my bachelors, 608 cert, and state license. ALL of those things no one can take away from you!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Farmington MI.
    Posts
    3
    Thank you. I really wanted to finish at Ferris but I'm getting money to stay where I am. Ferris is to much on the pocket book and a nice hike from where I live. I will avoid the NATE but I am definitely going to test for the State License in the Fall. Regardless of what I decide it is always good to have. How relevant will an ME Degree be for me though? Will I still be able to land the same types of jobs as someone that graduated from Ferris? (I go to Wayne State).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    315

    heya

    Cant say for sure if you would get the same type of job or not.
    I would guess you would have a greater chance at getting a job at an engineering firm over us.
    In my class 40% went on to be or work as design engineers (out of state, not to many jobs in state) 10% went on to work as facility managers/engineers, about 5% will be opening or running their own shops, 5%went into sales, and about 40% went on to work in controls either as field techs or design engineers/programmers.
    The people who usually seek us are commercial/industrial service-high end or big chillers or high volume boilers, controls firms, or large engineering firms with a HVACR design department.

    Ferris is great but you need to look at the degree, HVACR Engineering Technology- they cant call it HVACR Engineering because there is no calculus foundation, we go about as far as you can in Trig but that is it. Where you guys study physics, kinetics, etc...... , we stick to core thermodynamics, all of our text and formula come from core thermodynamics, ASHRAE=calculus and thermodynamics. Straight out of school we may be able to design and project manage a huge boiler project of AHU project over an engineering grad. but that is it our field of view is vary narrow. I think you will do great, get that degree.
    I would def. try to get a entry level job working with an industrial/commercial contractor, problem is entry level=entry pay but if you are good you will move through the ranks.
    I would say one more thing though, you may want to try like all hell to get into an engineering firm for a couple of years when you do get your degree, or at least long enough to sit for the PE exam, if you do continue to quest for your ME you would certainly want your PE license/title.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Farmington MI.
    Posts
    3
    Thank you again. You have been very helpful. I have been in contact w/ Ferris over the past few months concerning their online classes. I only need 10-12 classes to get that degree. Iv been in contact w/ Mrs. Trinkline and she has been great at helping me. For now, I will just keep rolling through ME. It is kind of a double edge sword though, an ME degree is GREAT! But you guys are learning the stuff that I want to know. I may be able to land a job doing what you guys do w/ an ME degree but then I have to be re-trained for the job!

    Thank you for all of your input!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    315

    heya

    Just so ya know.
    Most of us have to be retrained when we are out of school.
    It is just a matter of where they want to start you from.
    If you pick it up quick it wont matter where you came from. Especially engineering or working on the bigger stuff, they want you to learn a particular method (their method) until they are comfortable with you doing it on your own or they think your savvy enough to do it on your own.

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