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  1. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Philadelphia , PA
    Posts
    10
    In the industry for 7 years and started in a tin-knocking shop after high school for minimum wage. Tech school while in high school and then gained my associates in hvac/r after. Landed a great job and started as a service apprentice on commercial industrial equipment. Soon after i was out on my own fighting through mistakes like everyone else. If you plan on getting in the industry start now and never stop learning as you go.

  2. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    56
    Started as installer apprentice years ago, spent about 3 years doing that, then became a full-time installer. Now doing install, service, whatever they send me on. Been doing this for about 9 years. Signed up for my own EPA certification years ago, company paid for. Learned on the job, still learning, but know much more than I did years ago. If you have problem-solving skills and access to your common sense, you should do well in this job. If not, maybe be a salesman, or work in the office.

  3. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    56
    I think, more important than how you start is what you learn after you start. I found this forum because I wanted to know as much as I could about my field. I wanted to find the best in my field and learn from them. That is how I learned as much as I know at this point and hope to learn more.

  4. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    256
    After I graduated high school in 1990 I went down to the local union hall and got hired as a helper/pre-apprentice for a whopping $5.25/hour. The company that hired me needed someone to drive their chiller mechanic around because he lost his drivers license to a DUI.

    The guy was an angry bitter jerk and didn't teach me anything except how to go get him his tools out of the truck. That lasted a year and then he got his license back and I was let go.

    Went back down to the union hall and they sent me to work for this residential/light commercial company. While there I became an apprentice and went to school at the local union apprenticeship program. I worked there for 4 years and went to school for 2 nights a week. This is where I learned how to be an A/C service tech. I did everything from split/package unit installs to duct repair/installs to refrigeration and ice machines.

    I then got hired at Carrier to work on chillers and I finished my 5th year of apprenticeship there. Worked for Carrier for 5 years, then got hired at Trane.

    So here I am, thrilled to be working for the best manufacturer on the planet. Thank you to all the journeyman who helped along the way, and thanks to the union school that gave me my foundation of good knowledge.

  5. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    6
    I started out in '73 taking a HVACR technical class in high school. Repaired nuke subs and ran an a/c shop while in the Navy. When I got out I got hired as a helper. The very first day their service department was swamped so the service manager sent me on service calls in his truck. I've been doing some form of service ever since. I fought my way into controls when it was fresh and new and controls guys wouldn't help you at all. There was no internet (just good old bbs' ing) so you learned the old fashioned way. You got a computer (which was rare in those days), old broken controllers, every piece of software you could get your grubby little paws on, every tech manual you could get, and you spent as many hours as you could playing and learning.

    The biggest suggestion that I could make for anyone in this field is study, study, study, and practice, practice, practice. Get yourself an old condensing unit, some old copper, old parts, whatever. Braze 'em, burn 'em, wire 'em, test 'em. Learn on these piles of crap in your own back yard or garage. You won't have a roasting customer depending on your expertise so who cares. Blow a few breakers, god knows we all have, us old-timers just do it less because we've blown 'em before and remember what did it. Making mistakes is part of the learning process and is sometimes the easiest to remember. Just use as much time as you can learning your craft and you'll go far.

    One observation though. Not everyone has trouble-shooting and mechanical aptitude. I have found that I could help hone these skills if someone had them. No amount of training will instill these aptitudes if you don't have them. I would tell you to go into sales but frankly, as a service engineer, I would have far less work. Just kidding.

  6. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    256
    Quote Originally Posted by cdzcandp View Post
    One observation though. Not everyone has trouble-shooting and mechanical aptitude. I have found that I could help hone these skills if someone had them. No amount of training will instill these aptitudes if you don't have them.
    I agree completely. You have to start from somewhere and having the talent and aptitude for mechanical and electrical systems makes the difference between an excellent technician and someone who just gets buy.

    Lets face it, everyone has different talents and not everyone is skilled at reading and comprehending wiring diagrams or understanding the refrigeration process and heat transfer and troubleshooting both.

    For some people this comes with practice and experience. With others they just never really get it. It's no fault of there own, they just don't have the talent for it.

  7. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Landis North Carolina
    Posts
    528
    I started at G&SMetal in kannapolis nc when I was 20 as aresi/commercial duct install helper moved to soely commercial and went from there to the commercial piping/electrical crew then left and went to service at another company.During the time at the first hvac co. I was layed off and left on my own twice then went back. At first the original owner was a Great man and he took care of his employees and had patience and heart and at the time it was the place to be, best money and quality work. It was ALL metal ALL the time! Everyone in town new you were the best and you were proud to work there. Then Jack decided to sell and pursue other interests(rebuilding and flying vintage aircraft) and since the quality and business as a whole has gone down.I add this because when I was ready for service the new ownership liked someone else more and passed me over so I left for good(under amicable conditions) was even told they hated loosing me and could come back in the future, and still have a few friends there. But went to other co. that I worked for during layoff and was doing commercial installs and one day they sent me on a service call on my way in and come to find out it was a simple test, 1 bedroom wasnt cooling and airflow was ok so I said install transfer duct or undercut door and since that day Ive been a service tech. Started learning via Nextell at the time new technology.If I got stumped the owner was smart enough to be able to tell me exactly what was wrong and how to fix it and with accounts like charlotte motor speedway and cabarrus couthouse and jail I was fortunate to get some great hands on learning from one of the smartest men I have met in this trade. That co. is no longer but the knowlage and experiance are still in this old brain, somewhere.....I hope

  8. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    California/Nevada
    Posts
    3,607
    i was lucky and started in a saturated market (saturated with tech grads)

    i went to trade school in California and i got hired for an apprenticeship in Nevada, partly because the company wasn't happy with the techs from the local trade schools.

    the last 5 years was hell but now i qualify for a contractor's licence

  9. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    43
    I started as maintenance for a real estate holding company.
    lots of plumbing that i knew backwards, electrical repairs, and a little a/c
    had company get me epa test and i practiced on their equipment
    earn while you learn.. they kept increasing my responsibilities but not $
    applied to best heating and air service company in my market
    took a maint position with company running a van
    read everything i could get my hands on. still do
    continued to earn/learn/wow customers with courtesy
    everyone did service on rotation and 6 months in i was service full time
    customer service can lack in this business and employers really appreciate it the ability to sell units as opposed to making costly repairs dont hurt
    around here +10 yrs old is usually not worth comp, coil, etc 1200
    if you have good rapport with people it can really make a difference.
    good luck
    I LOVE THIS TRADE

  10. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Waco, Texas, USA
    Posts
    6,153
    Work for a college or school district changing air filters. This is where you will learn how to compensate your low wages by stealing all the tools & refrigerant you will need to start your own unlicensed illegal business. Then as you get better at what you do you can become legal.
    "And remember my sentimental friend......that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others" - Wizard of Oz.

  11. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    burlington county n.j.
    Posts
    9,709
    Quote Originally Posted by HeyBob View Post
    I was a slave for my Father and Grand Father.

    I was always instructed that this is what I was going to do for a living!
    same here, 52 years old with 42 years in the business.


    wheres my friggin gold watch.

  12. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sherman, TX
    Posts
    9,441
    "Work for a college or school district changing air filters. This is where you will learn how to compensate your low wages by stealing all the tools & refrigerant you will need to start your own unlicensed illegal business. Then as you get better at what you do you can become legal."

    You PEEKED !!
    Technical incompetence is NOT a sales tool....

  13. #26
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    58

    Darn Lucky

    I went to Electronics school, graduated with an associates, and never used it until I got into this field. I worked as a machinist, maintenace tech, and NC programmer at a radiator plant and took HVAC on the side while I was there. I lucked out and met a guy who worked with process chillers in the chemical plants. He taught me to rebuild Centrifugals and screws; 100-2000 tons. I had to learn to work on AC later. I am now a UA member, and try to teach any apprentice that wants to learn, any time I can; because I appreciate how blessed and lucky I was to run into the right people at the right time.

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