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Thread: Job advise

  1. #1
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    Confused Job advise

    Hi there,

    I am new to the fundamentals of HVACr but not to the trade. For the last 10 years I have worked as a building mechanic where I have gotten the opportunity to work on every aspect of a building.

    I have been able to work with lots of different HVAC systems, from small PTAC units to large chiller systems. Performing simple preventative maintenance and sometimes doing diagnosing, mostly electrical work.

    In February I enrolled to a local community college that offers a degree in BAS and a certificate for HVACr, recently I finished my first semester, I took fundamentals to HVACr and Fundamentals for electrical in HVACr. In both classes I did very well A+ on both.

    Through this class I also took my EPA certification test where I passed Type 1 and Type 2, I missed type 3 by 1 question, not bad considering this semester I did not learn about chillers or low pressure systems.

    I want to become an HVAC technician either for a building or a service company, so my question is with 10 years of general building knowledge and hands on skills, what are my chances of getting picked up by a company that does only HVAC and not as an apprentice.

    I currently hold the following certificates;
    - Residential electrician
    - Automated Logic completion of basic and intermediate course
    - EPA Type l, ll
    - Driver license good record

    TL;DR

    I have 10 years experience, recently obtained my EPA certificate, have already repaired and installed mini-split systems, own all my own tools and want to get picked up by a company but not as an apprentice. Is that possible?

    Thanks everyone and sorry for the long story.

  2. #2
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    Where are you located?

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    Get expert careers advice and guidance on job applications, CVs and cover letters, interview tips, getting into university, and career planning.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuildingMech88 View Post
    I have 10 years experience, recently obtained my EPA certificate, have already repaired and installed mini-split systems, own all my own tools and want to get picked up by a company but not as an apprentice. Is that possible?

    Thanks everyone and sorry for the long story.
    A UA apprentice makes more in his fifth year than many experienced non-union techs.
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
    2 Tim 3:16-17

    RSES CMS, HVAC Electrical Specialist
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by timebuilder View Post
    A UA apprentice makes more in his Third year than many experienced non-union techs.
    Fixed!

  6. #6
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    BuildingMech88
    You've left out a lot of information for anyone to give you a usable responce

    First thing to get into your head there are many things you do not know, we ALL learn every day

    First States, Counties and Cities can have licensing requirements for you to work unsupervised (as Journeyman not an Appretice) for a contractor. Many States, Counties and Cities do have training and work experience requirements to gain a license. Many ask for you to prove you have graduated from a training program and have a minimum of 4000 to 5000 hours of training and verifiable work experience. (experience in HVAC, not in building maintenance or an electrician, or....)

    You say you are an electrician; What did you do to get that title? Just work in the field or did you go to school and/or attend a training program? If you work in an area that does not require a license you need to provide more to a perspective employers than I have 10 years of building maintenance experince Stating you have worked on many different types of HVAC equipment does not show you are qualified to be turned loose in their truck, meeting their customers and representing their business name.

    When you talk to potential employers, they are not looking to hire a building mechanic, they are looking to hire a HVAC/R tech.
    I'm not thelling you how to present yourself but you need to provide more information as to why you are quailifed to be an HVAC tech.
    As a suggestion: I have X years working on HVAC equipment. I have work experince on the following equipment. Being an electrician helps but just because you work as an electrician does not mean you know much about HVAC. But that works two ways as well. If you are so busy being an electrician when did you have time to become an HVAC tech?

    Having an EPA license does not mean squat to an HVAC contractor

    Just by reading what you have written I would estimate you to be equal to a beginning third year apprentice.

    Answer the questions for yourself:
    Do you need a license to work as a HVAC tech?
    Do you have specific HVAC Training? Document it
    Do you have specific HVAC Work History? Document it
    Can you get references stating your are a HVAC Tech?
    Can you get previous employers to state your duties where to maintain HVAC equipment?

    These are all things you will need to show a potential employer if you wish to work as an HVAC tech

    Good Luck

  7. #7
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    Where are you located?
    Hi Pec, I live in California, and stay in the San Gabriel Valley, lots of HVAC work out here.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuildingMech88 View Post
    Hi Pec, I live in California, and stay in the San Gabriel Valley, lots of HVAC work out here.
    http://www.ua.org/locals

    https://www.iuoe.org/our-locals/find...oe-local-union

  9. #9
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by timebuilder View Post
    A UA apprentice makes more in his fifth year than many experienced non-union techs.

    Thats one option I have not looked into yet, about 4 years ago I applied for the local 501 operating engineers in Los Angeles and was accepted but I found a job before they offered me something I was interested in so I stopped paying my dues and they stopped sending me offers.

  10. #10
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    Thread Starter
    thank you sir

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Answer-Man View Post
    BuildingMech88
    You've left out a lot of information for anyone to give you a usable responce

    First thing to get into your head there are many things you do not know, we ALL learn every day

    First States, Counties and Cities can have licensing requirements for you to work unsupervised (as Journeyman not an Appretice) for a contractor. Many States, Counties and Cities do have training and work experience requirements to gain a license. Many ask for you to prove you have graduated from a training program and have a minimum of 4000 to 5000 hours of training and verifiable work experience. (experience in HVAC, not in building maintenance or an electrician, or....)

    You say you are an electrician; What did you do to get that title? Just work in the field or did you go to school and/or attend a training program? If you work in an area that does not require a license you need to provide more to a perspective employers than I have 10 years of building maintenance experince Stating you have worked on many different types of HVAC equipment does not show you are qualified to be turned loose in their truck, meeting their customers and representing their business name.

    When you talk to potential employers, they are not looking to hire a building mechanic, they are looking to hire a HVAC/R tech.
    I'm not thelling you how to present yourself but you need to provide more information as to why you are quailifed to be an HVAC tech.
    As a suggestion: I have X years working on HVAC equipment. I have work experince on the following equipment. Being an electrician helps but just because you work as an electrician does not mean you know much about HVAC. But that works two ways as well. If you are so busy being an electrician when did you have time to become an HVAC tech?

    Having an EPA license does not mean squat to an HVAC contractor

    Just by reading what you have written I would estimate you to be equal to a beginning third year apprentice.

    Answer the questions for yourself:
    Do you need a license to work as a HVAC tech?
    Do you have specific HVAC Training? Document it
    Do you have specific HVAC Work History? Document it
    Can you get references stating your are a HVAC Tech?
    Can you get previous employers to state your duties where to maintain HVAC equipment?

    These are all things you will need to show a potential employer if you wish to work as an HVAC tech

    Good Luck
    Thanks for taking the time to give a very honest and thought out response.

    I did leave a lot of information out so I will attempt to fill you guys in some more, prior to me becoming a building mechanic I took a 1 year course for residential and light commercial electrician, I passed and received my certificate but I did not pursue the trade therefore never receiving an Electricians license/ permit to work.

    Instead I began working at hotels where the majority of my experience was gained, I started from the bottom doing light maintenance and cleaning to the very top being the Chief Engineer for a brand new Hilton Garden inn, all this was within a time span of 8 years. In those 8 years I learned a lot, like I said I dabbled with every trade but in regards to HVAC this is my experience.

    First few properties were small, every room had its own PTAC unit and public areas had Split systems providing cooling. In these buildings I learned simple things like wiring thermostats and what each letter and color represented, sometimes I would replace sensors like the SA and also replacing control boards which gave me the opportunity to see how everything was connected. Besides that, I would perform preventative maintenance to the PTACs by cleaning the front and back coils, for the split units I would replace filters for the air handlers and wash the condensers quarterly.

    Moving on to a different property I was exposed to Chillers, pneumatics, steam boilers and large packaged units. In this building I did mostly electrical work but I still got the opportunity to see and sometimes help in replacing or recalibrating thermostats and other equipment.

    My current job is for a school that has multiple buildings, one of them being a 6 floor building where most of the action occurs. For the last 2 years I have been working here and I have learned a lot and have gotten the opportunity to develop my hands on skills. I seriously think I have seen almost every design for cooling in at least one of the buildings at my job, Chillers, water towers, packaged units, split systems, mini split, VRF,VAVs, and so on.

    Through this current job I have also gotten the opportunity to learn and work with ALC systems like, WebCtrl, Delta and Distech. I am very active on the controls and do daily monitoring of the buildings going through the alarm panels, checking set points and checking latest modifications by other techs.

    Things I learned in class so far;

    Fundamentals of HVAC, the main components, their role and importance, diagnosing and hands on practice where I got to connect my gauges to read pressures and temps, connect temp clamps to liquid line and suction line to read super heat and sub cooling. Connect to a recovery machine and remove x lbs into a recovery tank, recharging the system with the refrigerant that was removed. Practiced techniques like putting recovery tank in bucket of ice or hot water to lower or rise the pressure in the tank and more.

    Wired 10 different project boards where I ran different "systems" following a schematic, for example a dual votalge 120/24 volt circuit that allows a SPDT toggle switch to control 2 separate relays coils on the secondary side of the transformer, one relay for a shaded pole motor with toggle "up", second relay will energize a light bulb when toggle is "down", light and fan will be energized by primary side 120v and more more difficult schematics. My final for this class was to wire completely a gas furnace and condenser and I scored 100%

    Since Getting my EPA card and equipment I have done the following work;

    Diagnosed and repaired 2 separate mini splits that had leaked from the flare fitting, I re did the flare connected it, pressurized it with nitrogen to 250psi, after verifying there is no leak I purged the nitrogen and began my vacuum process. Reached 394 microns and held, I then recharged with 410a to the manufactures specs which showed 70 oz of 410a. Both I was successful in repairing.

    Installed 1 ton 120v Rheem mini split unit, I will spare you the details but it was a successful install.


    This trade has me feeling very excited about my future and I know with the right attitude and guidance I can do some amazing things!

    Thank you all and sorry for the very long story, hope this helps in giving me better guidance.

    Thanks,

  12. #12
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    You said you are in California (Los Angelos area), my understanding there you need to have a license to be a contractor but not to be the hands on tech. If that is true I would take what you wrote above turn it into a cover page and send it to or drop it off and several contractors in the area you wish to work in. I would also create a list of references of those who can verify what you've documented

    I know it's difficult to back up and start again usually backing up means less pay but not all the time or for very long. You won't find better traning than in a UA training (apprentice) program. But it may take a little while to get in. Pay wise you will be at the top instead of the bottom or middle of the industry.

    Just curious: Typically maintenance at schools, hospitals, large manufacting offer comparable packages (wages and benefits) to the trades and usually better work conditions. But that's were you are now and you seem to have lots of opportunity to work in HVAC. Why the urge to change jobs, seems like you are doing just what you desire to do?

    Good Luck

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Answer-Man View Post
    You said you are in California (Los Angelos area), my understanding there you need to have a license to be a contractor but not to be the hands on tech. If that is true I would take what you wrote above turn it into a cover page and send it to or drop it off and several contractors in the area you wish to work in. I would also create a list of references of those who can verify what you've documented

    I know it's difficult to back up and start again usually backing up means less pay but not all the time or for very long. You won't find better traning than in a UA training (apprentice) program. But it may take a little while to get in. Pay wise you will be at the top instead of the bottom or middle of the industry.

    Just curious: Typically maintenance at schools, hospitals, large manufacting offer comparable packages (wages and benefits) to the trades and usually better work conditions. But that's were you are now and you seem to have lots of opportunity to work in HVAC. Why the urge to change jobs, seems like you are doing just what you desire to do?

    Good Luck
    Thank you sir, that is honestly some very good advice and will work on that today!

    The reason for not wanting to be an apprentice is because of the possibility of wage loss. I am 30 years old, married and have rent, car note, and bills to pay as we all do and taking a pay cut is not very appealing. I have no Ego and only look forward to learning I don't mind starting all over if my pay was not compromised.

    My current job is an amazing place to work at "if" I was able to work on the units. For liability reasons the school has chosen to hire 3rd party company to come perform repairs and preventative maintenance... that's right we can't even replace a damn filter. Supposedly with my new credentials and knowledge I will be allowed more hands on as I have by repairing the mini splits but here is my concern, who am I going to learn from? I would the be only guy on my team doing HVAC work and with me being new I would have no one to reference with and just learn.

    Tell me if I am wrong but I believe that by working for a service company I will be exposed to old, current and new systems and continue learning rather than staying stagnant in one building.

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