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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    6

    Confused Going HVAC at 55 years old

    A few months ago I enrolled in a 200 hour HVAC maintenance and repair course, and received my EPA Universal Certiication. Unfortunately, there was not much hands experience, but alot of reading about refrigeration, AC electrical components, charging & evacuation, etc... The only hands-on we received was putting together fan circuits and troubleshooting them. Oh yeah we volunteered our services to troubleshoot and repair some old PTAC units at a motel. Well anyway I got hooked. I am planning on enrolling in a HVAC associates degree program at a local community college, and also independently study for a NATE Heat pump certification. What I would like to do is start my own full-time HVAC maintenance and repair business after I receive my associates. I will be 57 years old, with 2 years experience as a "freelance" HVAC tech. I was wondering if I am will able to meet the demands of repairing split units and in some cases crawling under homes to get to a discharge line. Also, can I realistically compete as a middle ages guy with no real track record. Am I being realistic at all?

    What is your opinion about my plan?
    What are some of the obstacles I might encounter?
    What are some of the advantages?

    hvac1232

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    179
    I think we would need a lot more information about what you have been doing for the past 30 years to be able to give you an informed answer. In my experience of being in this business for the past 30 years, it takes a good five years to master the technical aspects of the trade. If , on the other hand, you have been troubleshooting electrical systems for 30 years, that timeline could be drastically cut.
    In any event, I'd suggest you go work for someone to see if you enjoy the work before expending the energy and money to start a business. Good luck in whatever you decide.

  3. #3
    Wow, I'm glad someone posted this. I'm the same age and trying to figure a new career path. I realize these professions are not walk right in,but 5 yrs. to become proficient enough to be on your own ? Heck,I'll be 60. The age discrimination I get already is forcing me to really make an informed decision about what path to follow as far as new career training. I know schools will promise the moon but ,are employers willing to hire 55 yr old newbies ? Hmm. I also thought of appliance repair. Mechanically inclined,30 yr. experience ,concrete truck driver thinking of commercial refrigeration tech. career. Man,I dont know anymore,about anything in this world.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    California/Nevada
    Posts
    3,607
    talk to technicians in your area and ask them how long they've been at their current company, and what kind of wages they expect new employees would earn.

    in my area truck driving is a far better job

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Arnold, Mo
    Posts
    394
    Find out what the local regulations are in your area. In St. Louis, you gotta be a licensed journeyman to work on your own which requires 7500 verifiable hours to be approved to take the licensing test. Good luck to you. Your never too old to start something new. And remember, once u go HVAC, u never go back!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    33,905
    15 some years ago we needed a good tech. Asked at the local vo-tech and they suggested Juan. Retired from US Army, he went to their school for HVAC but instead of a job in the field, he was working cargo at the airport. The boss called him, got him in for an interview and hired him. He worked 10 years til 65 and "retired". We called him back and he worked 2 summers 3 days a week doing cleans. Customers loved him. This year he didn't come back, age and family obligations prevented it to our disappointment.

    It is hard on the bod. I'd rule out installation but service up into one's 60s is possible.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Philadelphia PA
    Posts
    2,190

    what a great post

    Quote Originally Posted by BaldLoonie View Post
    15 some years ago we needed a good tech. Asked at the local vo-tech and they suggested Juan. Retired from US Army, he went to their school for HVAC but instead of a job in the field, he was working cargo at the airport. The boss called him, got him in for an interview and hired him. He worked 10 years til 65 and "retired". We called him back and he worked 2 summers 3 days a week doing cleans. Customers loved him. This year he didn't come back, age and family obligations prevented it to our disappointment.

    It is hard on the bod. I'd rule out installation but service up into one's 60s is possible.
    thanks for sharing this post. I like to know that it is not tired and then retired
    You have got to learn from other people's mistakes! Because God knows you don't live long enough to make them all yourself !!!!!!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Citrus County Fl
    Posts
    9
    honestly any 200 hr class sickens me, to the core put in your time like i did become a real tech not a fly by night , i am not a sales man i am a technician Their are many mechanics out their im insulted when someone calls me a mechanic i put in a year and 3 months of technical collage and earned my stripes in this trade many a times and am sick of going behind 200 hr course fly by night MECHANICS/SALESMEN but i am grateful for them at the same time , cause i can prove them wrong and take their customer that they have been screwing over , yes i know not everybody that does the 200 hr course is a POS but alot are and its a damm shame, me personaly i would love to keep non professionals away from a/c units.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    steeler nation
    Posts
    2,036
    Quote Originally Posted by AtkinsonAirCare View Post
    honestly any 200 hr class sickens me, to the core put in your time like i did become a real tech not a fly by night , i am not a sales man i am a technician Their are many mechanics out their im insulted when someone calls me a mechanic i put in a year and 3 months of technical collage and earned my stripes in this trade many a times and am sick of going behind 200 hr course fly by night MECHANICS/SALESMEN but i am grateful for them at the same time , cause i can prove them wrong and take their customer that they have been screwing over , yes i know not everybody that does the 200 hr course is a POS but alot are and its a damm shame, me personaly i would love to keep non professionals away from a/c units.
    I don't think completing a 15 month course gives you the ability to walk on water,makes you a "real tech", or gives you the right to trash a guy for trying to better himself.


    I wouldn't have a problem hiring a older newbie as long as he is physically able to perform the work.
    IV IV IX

    use your head for something other than a hat rack.......Gerry

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Citrus County Fl
    Posts
    9
    Quote Originally Posted by hvac1232 View Post
    A few months ago I enrolled in a 200 hour HVAC maintenance and repair course, and received my EPA Universal Certiication. Unfortunately, there was not much hands experience, but alot of reading about refrigeration, AC electrical components, charging & evacuation, etc... The only hands-on we received was putting together fan circuits and troubleshooting them. Oh yeah we volunteered our services to troubleshoot and repair some old PTAC units at a motel. Well anyway I got hooked. I am planning on enrolling in a HVAC associates degree program at a local community college, and also independently study for a NATE Heat pump certification. What I would like to do is start my own full-time HVAC maintenance and repair business after I receive my associates. I will be 57 years old, with 2 years experience as a "freelance" HVAC tech. I was wondering if I am will able to meet the demands of repairing split units and in some cases crawling under homes to get to a discharge line. Also, can I realistically compete as a middle ages guy with no real track record. Am I being realistic at all?

    What is your opinion about my plan?
    What are some of the obstacles I might encounter?
    What are some of the advantages?

    hvac1232
    Whoa! u need way more hands on experience before u even think about going out on your own, i have all the nate certs they mean nothing compared 2 good old on the job experience get a job at a company first

    honestly, if u feel you arent physicaly able 2 do attics and mobile homes commercial refridgeration/ice machienes/appliances is way less impactful

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    N.W.Indiana
    Posts
    59

    Never too late

    I started going to school to get my associates degree in HVAC at the age of 36. Had electrical/mechanical experience prior. Started working for a Industrial/Commercial union shop 2 years later. Was told by a service manager that he thought I had gotten into the field TOO LATE and would have trouble understanding many concepts. HE WAS WRONG. I've learned alot and Iam still working. Just turned 60 and have no plans to retire for some time. I will say it's important to be in good shape because the physical aspect is always present. Your never too old to learn. Just how you apply your new skill sets will determine your success.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    275
    I remember when I first entered the trades as an electrical apprentice at 21, I was told that I am too old to get into the trades and apprenticeship since most people get in at 18 after HS, a lot of it comes down to your physical ability in my opinion, this trade like most are demanding physically and I don't know if I would want to be doing this in my 50's.

    When I was doing my schooling for refrigeration and gas fitting, I would say that average age was 40 in my classes, older than one would think, a couple of people were in their 50's as well.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    where the beer flows like wine
    Posts
    2,871
    You are way too old to get started in the trade, its going to be very hard for you to find meaningful employment as a service tech. I advise you to apply for maintenance jobs where hvac is part of the picture. good luck!!

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