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Thread: Need some help

  1. #1
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    Nov 2011
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    High Point NC
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    Need some help

    Hey guys heres the deal I am 20 years old and I want to be some form of a service tech in a few years down the road. Last summer as in 2010 I worked as a installer at a small company here in town. Then I went to school for a year in automotive well I didnt want to do that. So I went and got a job a few months later which is where I am now as a plumber helper at Johns Plumbing here in Greensboro NC. I have com to realize that I don't want to do plumbing cause I think it is much nastier and harder than HVAC (correct me if i am Wrong ). So I am now wanting to do HVAC. Now my company I am with does HVAC but its a lot of residential and some commercial. So do you get that far in residential money wise and advancing? So which is better commercial or residential money and long term wise? Now school wise I have no schooling because its very hard for me if it has more book work than lab work.
    So is commercial I can get into and learn as I go or do I need schooling? The next thing is my grandpa wants to provide me with a service truck doing HVAC. He wants to just do service no installs can I make any money that way or would I be fighting to pay my bills? I just need some help in which way to go. Also can talk about chillers and boilers is there money in that type of service?

    Thanks Dylan

  2. #2
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    Sep 2004
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    Jersey
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    you do need the schooling to learn the basics, technical parts, How things work. you really dont want to be a parts changer..
    Yes all fields you can make money in, depends on how NC is set up.. Jersey you make more money in commercial.. but you can make a living on residential too.
    you really cant be just service, What is you go to a customers house to do a service then find out they have a 20 year old system and they want to replace it, are you going to let some other company do the install and take that cash, then being they installed it now they do the service, Now you just lost a customer..
    Just my food for thought!!
    try a Vo-tech school for training or see if you can have the current company send you to school
    Ride hard on a Harley!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Baltimore, Maryland
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    40
    Dylan, you do have to understand the theory and how things work. Maybe you could try a online class or better yet you can get a DVD on EBAY that shows you how to test a relay, capacitor, motor, etc. in simple terms that are easy to grasp. Technical Training Associates is the name of the company. I get a kick out of it as he uses some old testers....

  4. #4
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    Mar 2010
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    Arnold, Mo
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    If I were you, I wouldn't venture out doing service on your own if you don't have anyone to bounce questions off of because there will be many. Get your hands dirty working for an established company with senior techs to help you learn the trade.

  5. #5
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    Nov 2011
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    High Point NC
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    Quote Originally Posted by flanders View Post
    If I were you, I wouldn't venture out doing service on your own if you don't have anyone to bounce questions off of because there will be many. Get your hands dirty working for an established company with senior techs to help you learn the trade.
    Awesome that was one answer I was wanting yea I know I need to get in there and learn for a good while before I could go out on my own. So what do yall think is better should I try to switch to HVAC with my current company? Or there is one commercial company right down the road should i try to get in with them?

  6. #6
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    Dec 2002
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    SouthEast NC ICW & Piedmont Foothills
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    you are going to have to get over your phobia of classroom training or you will be lost the first time you have to open a 100+ page OEM and figure out WTH is going on with the machine in front of you.

    there are plenty of "commercial" contractors in your vicinity
    It`s better to be silent and thought the fool; than speak and remove all doubt.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    132
    I was in the same position you were in just a few short years ago (seems like a lifetime ago) so I will give you a little insight. The first thing is, I would not say HVAC is easier than plumbing. With the new boards and relays that are being used in new equipment, HVAC is becomming extremely technical. Its not just a gas valve, with a pilot assembly, burners and a blower motor anymore. On the residential end, you have to bring a furnace into basements, haul a condenser around a house, work outside in all elements, it can be a difficult job (you will do an install every now and then whether you are doing service or not) and if you get on the commercial end, I have a hard time believing plumbing is more difficult and the main reason is the elements. If you are working on RTU's you are outside in all conditions. Rain, snow, 110 degree days, -20 degree days, people need heat and AC. Everything again is getting very technical on that end as well, not to mention boilers and chillers are a whole different beast that you MUST understand before even thinking about touching them.

    Now the next point, if you are going to start doing HVAC, I would not reccomend starting on the commercial end. Start on the residential end, get fluent with the sequence of operation, taking voltages, amp draws, resistance readings etc. on the residential side, then make the transfer over to commercial. If you make a wrong move, its ALOT more pleasant to get zapped with 120 single phase than 460 3 phase. Neither are very pleasant though. Is the money as good on the residential end of things? Probably not, but lets be honest at age 20, you dont NEED to make 30+ dollars an hour. I was making 11 bucks an hour when I was your age, did my time, now only a couple years later, I am finally making good money after I transferred over to the commercial side of things. But at age 20 (now I do not know your specific circumstances) but most of the times you don't have a family to support, you dont have the wife and kids factor at home like the older seasoned techs. You just need to learn to be a good money manager, and keep looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Now to hit on a couple more points quick before I have to go to work. If we are talking about schooling, I know I am going to get some heat for this comment, but if you are working at a shop that is willing to let you ride around with a good seasoned tech for a little while, I feel it will far surpass anything you can learn in school. I did a couple years of my apprenticeship, before the company went belly up and I couldn't find anyone to let me complete it, but my instructor told me something when I talked to him about not being able to complete the apprenticeship. "If you can get into a shop with someone that is willing to teach you, and someone that you can call when you get hung up, don't worry about schooling at this point. Because you will learn 10 times more in the field when you see it with your own 2 eyes and work on it with your own 2 hands. There are certain things I can teach you in the lab, and certain things I can teach you out of a book, but at the end of the day, you can learn all of that in the field. HOWEVER there are things I can't possibly teach you in the lab that you will only see while in the field" and I think he hit it right on the head. So I wouldn't let actual schooling be a selling factor as much as working at a good shop with good techs. I would NOT let your grandpa set you up in a service van. Even to this day I would not even consider it. Why? Because I am only 23 years old, I have five years experience, and that is a responsibility that I don't want at this point in my career. Not only that, but to this day, there are still MANY things that I get hung up on, but I at least have the guys I work with to fall back on for support if needed, and they are always willing to help. So with zero experience, dont even attempt it, you will either kill yourself or someone else. HVAC can be a very dangerous thing to deal with and it is essential to have the support.

    I hope I helped some and like I said, do not be discouraged by what you are making right now. You just have to take you lumps, and put in your time. I know it may seem like a struggle financially at times, but in the end its worth it. This a very good trade to get into, and an extremely difficult trade to get into. It sounds like you have your foot in the door, so do not throw that away. Take what they are willing to give you for a while, then talk to the boss about what YOU would like to do. Do not be afraid to explore your opportunities. Im not saying go and jump job to job just for the sake of it, but if a job with what seems like a better opportunity presents itself, do nto be aftraid to try it out. I know my parents hated it because for a while it seemed like I was just job jumping for the sake of switching jobs, but I weighed out the pros and cons of every job I took, and when I made the jump from residential to commercial, it was a little sooner than I had wanted and it was a bit of a leap of faith, but it actually worked out very well for me. Remember, money is not everything, I have turned down a couple of jobs within the last few months that were better pay, but the opportunity was not as good. If you want to be a successful tech down the road, in my mind, you don't even look at the hourly rate of the pay check, look at the opportunity that is presenting itself, and let the money work itself out further down the road. I hope this helped and if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

  8. #8
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    Jun 2006
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    After reading your initial post and seeing your age....I think you are looking over fences and seeing greener grass......

    The main advantage to this trade is that it's Technical...which means schooling, reading manuals, taking classes and being a tech and not a parts changer.

    The disappointing thing is parts changers can be successful in this trade..making commissions, spiffs, etc. As long as they can look a customer in the eye and tell them they need something they didn't. I can't do that-so I can either (honestly) credit parts they didn't need or get it right the first time by using my education, knowledge and training.

    As others have said...the required knowledge level is increasing....



    You mentioned car mechanic....here is how that industry became more technical.....

    30 years ago, cars were simple...wrenches, screwdrivers and feeler guages were all you needed to service a car....you could rebuild one using those tools

    Today-computer controlled- specialized tools and training-working in confined spaces-those mechanics don't drag airhandlers and outdoor units thru attics and crawlspaces and mud. They also have another guy right next to them to help...

    Every trade has its plusses and minuses....you can never have it easy everyday

  9. #9
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    At your age, I would do whatever I had to do, including move to another city, to get into a UA apprenticeship program. Some of the best training available, and you get paid while doing it. When you make journeyman, you will have the top wages and benefits in your area.

    Technology has actually dumbed down auto repair. Too many screens that give diagnostic help to a bunch of young techs that would be lost without them. That's why auto wages are being continually eroded.

    Develop a thirst for learning and take my advice and you will be set for life.
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
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  10. #10
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    Thanks very much guys for all the help. As said before I am goin to look into some of those videos. Also as said before about getting my own truck I have never thought that was a good idea from the start. There is so much libality these days and you will always need some advice from someone. The plumber techs that have been doin it for 11 years still call the other techs here for advice. So now I need to go talk to my boss next week and talk to him about riding with a tech. Also two post up where he said about school I am not saying that I wouldn't go back to school but I feel that I can learn 1000 times more from a tech that will let me put my hands on it and if I am doing something wrong or about to he will guide me and show me what to do where I can learn from my mistakes.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by timebuilder View Post
    At your age, I would do whatever I had to do, including move to another city, to get into a UA apprenticeship program. Some of the best training available, and you get paid while doing it. When you make journeyman, you will have the top wages and benefits in your area.

    Technology has actually dumbed down auto repair. Too many screens that give diagnostic help to a bunch of young techs that would be lost without them. That's why auto wages are being continually eroded.

    Develop a thirst for learning and take my advice and you will be set for life.
    I agree with you that wages in the auto industry are eroding....but I feel it's only because the auto industry complexity is established and their "bar" has been set for many years. The technology bar is raising in HVAC from communicating stats, ecm blowers, higher tech standards for efficiency (which the auto industry got over the last 30 years)

    I personally hate buying auto parts anymore....Years ago you would go into an auto parts store and tell them you need a "thermostat gasket for a small block chevy" and they would just reach up and grab ya one. Today the person behind the counter has to look in a PC with the model, make, year, motor size......I needed a thermostat and gasket for my boat and had to make up 1973 chevy pickup, 350ci, 180 degrees, so the kid could find one

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by I want to learn View Post
    Thanks very much guys for all the help. As said before I am goin to look into some of those videos. Also as said before about getting my own truck I have never thought that was a good idea from the start. There is so much libality these days and you will always need some advice from someone. The plumber techs that have been doin it for 11 years still call the other techs here for advice. So now I need to go talk to my boss next week and talk to him about riding with a tech. Also two post up where he said about school I am not saying that I wouldn't go back to school but I feel that I can learn 1000 times more from a tech that will let me put my hands on it and if I am doing something wrong or about to he will guide me and show me what to do where I can learn from my mistakes.
    I agree you need to put your hands on it, but you ALSO NEED the FUNDAMENTALS to figure out something similar you haven't had in your hands. As the complexity of this stuff increases-the odds of you having touched a particular part decreases.....

  13. #13
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    Yes I totally agree with you on that. I know I won't touch it all with my hands. As stated above what is a UA apprenticeship program? Is that where I work for a company and they will pay me to go to school or what? Again y'all don't realize how much this helps me over talking to my parents

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