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Thread: Demand for HVAC Technicians and Hiring Get Hotter

  1. #1
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    Demand for HVAC Technicians and Hiring Get Hotter

    Written August 25, 2010
    By : Doug Mitchell


    If you have a skilled trade like HVAC techs do, then you’re likely not feeling the pinch of the economy as badly as others. In fact if you’re an owner of a HVAC service company…you’re probably scrambling to keep up with business. So in a down economy, HVAC is a sector where some firms are seeing record revenues.

    In HOT climates and in areas experiencing abnormal highs, HVAC companies who don’t have a talent bench could be caught off guard when overworked technicians jump ship or clients seek out competitors who have availability when you don’t.

    A recent article in the Star News of North Carolina discusses the demand for skilled labor. For me, the most telling quote from the article was the following:

    “HVAC work is one of a few areas where demand has not appreciably cooled with the economic crisis. Nationwide there still is a huge demand for competent, qualified technicians,” said Glen Hourahan, vice president of research and technology at Air Conditioning Contractors of America in Arlington, Va.


    The key takeaway is “huge demand for competent, qualified technicians”. Read that over and over. Getting caught without help can be one of the most costly mistakes you can make in your HVAC business.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Karen Enos View Post
    Written August 25, 2010
    By : Doug Mitchell


    If you have a skilled trade like HVAC techs do, then you’re likely not feeling the pinch of the economy as badly as others. In fact if you’re an owner of a HVAC service company…you’re probably scrambling to keep up with business. So in a down economy, HVAC is a sector where some firms are seeing record revenues.

    In HOT climates and in areas experiencing abnormal highs, HVAC companies who don’t have a talent bench could be caught off guard when overworked technicians jump ship or clients seek out competitors who have availability when you don’t.

    A recent article in the Star News of North Carolina discusses the demand for skilled labor. For me, the most telling quote from the article was the following:

    “HVAC work is one of a few areas where demand has not appreciably cooled with the economic crisis. Nationwide there still is a huge demand for competent, qualified technicians,” said Glen Hourahan, vice president of research and technology at Air Conditioning Contractors of America in Arlington, Va.


    The key takeaway is “huge demand for competent, qualified technicians”. Read that over and over. Getting caught without help can be one of the most costly mistakes you can make in your HVAC business.
    Well i better start applying at McDonald's.

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    My boss said he estimates there are 2 jobs for every qualified Journeyman looking. We went a couple of months looking before I went to work for them. The company is now starting a training program to get new talent. They are in the middle of a big expansion.

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    We're trying to hire, but are 0 for 5 this past week on drug tests.

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    Thread Starter
    There are some things that I would suggest.

    1. Does the company have a referral program? As most companies already know-money is a common motivator. Also, existing techs are less likely to refer someone that they know would not be able to pass a drug test.

    2. Have they advertised their opportunity outside of the immediate area?
    3. Does the job posting clearly state that they will be subject to a drug screen prior to an offer of employment? Sometimes people assume that since they do not see it listed that it must not be required.

    I know that each situation is different, but these are just some of the things that I have suggested to other employers that seem to yield better results.

    Good Luck!
    -Karen Enos

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    The key takeaway is “huge demand for competent, qualified technicians”. Read that over and over. Getting caught without help can be one of the most costly mistakes you can make in your HVAC business.


    I guess we will just have to wait a see what happens next !
    A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open.

    The best part of going to work is coming back home at the end of the day.

    Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all.

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    these reports about HVAC becoming a boomming trade are written just so people will drop 15 grand on trade schools

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfstrike View Post
    these reports about HVAC becoming a boomming trade are written just so people will drop 15 grand on trade schools
    I have to say i agree with this, at least, in my state. I've put in over 47 applications since i finished my 2 year degree.. the only companies that i see hiring right now are either A. Looking for a minimum wage condenser cleaning b$tch or B. heavy commercial/industrial companies looking for someone with 5+ years experience.

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    Fair amount of work,BUT people don't have the money to pay.So, less work and money than normal.Still paying the bills,but not spending christmas in Hawaii.That is how it has been for me in Atlanta,Ga. area.Doing more repair on older systems that people should replace.

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    I also hate to say this!!! Most young guys out of tech school think that they are ready for their own truck and to make $25.00 an hour.Sorry,been there.You still need to ride with a senior tech for at least 2 years(in most Cases) before you get your own truck.Maybe start at $10.00 -$12.00 per hour.I went to tech school 25 years ago,and still constantly go to school.i am now 52 years young.I still don't,and never will "know it all" I can look back at how little I knew coming out of tech school.now down grading anyone.We all have to start someplace.Tech school and job training(apprenticeship) is the right place.But too many young guys think they are going to make big money right out of tech school. WRONG You have to get field training and PAY YOUR DUES.HVAC is a good field.It takes time to learn .Once you learn,the money will come.Young guys must be patient.

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    The common thing that I hear from employers nationwide is that there is a large investment in training someone fresh out of trade school. They have book knowledge, but not hands-on field knowledge. They generally have to work with a senior level technician for the first 1-2 years (depending on their skill level) as Gleng stated. The common fear with employers is that they are going to invest time & money into training someone-just to have them leave & go to a competitor - thus having them have to start over. Most employers are not going to pay top dollar for someone that has no experience whether it is a HVAC company or any other company. Entry level technicians need to be sure that the wages that they are anticipating are within reason. There are plenty of sites out there that are free, and will tell you what the median salary range is for someone based on your level of experience. Also, something that you may want to consider looking at in conjunction with pay is what do they offer in regards to benefits, and continuing education. The HVAC field is an ever-changing field. Keeping yourself at the top (knowledge, certifications, and training) is what makes you a more valuable commodity. For example, there is a lot of funding for BPI certified companies, but there aren't a lot of techs that have that certification. I can tell you another one that I know first hand that is a hard to fill position is NEBB certification & Tridium Niagara AX certified techs. Also, do your homework about the company that you may want to work for. Follow up on your application, and figure out who the hiring authority is - side step the receptionist (that I am sure is screening calls) and try to get yourself in front of the hiring manager. Finally, really ask yourself what you would be willing to accept in regards to pay. Maybe you could negotiate a starting wage, and as you prove yourself to the employer - you could get raises every 3 months for the first year - then go to an annual review. There is nothing wrong with trying to negotiate with a potential employer as long as it is within reason.


    -Karen Enos

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    "If you have a skilled trade like HVAC techs do, then you’re likely not feeling the pinch of the economy as badly as others. " The company that I'm working for started laying people off two years ago and continues to do so. I'm waiting for the axe to fall on me pretty soon. I think we're already up to 50 techs laid off at present. Been sending out resumes but not a single lead- there's just too many techs laid off in this are.
    See, the human mind is kind of like... a piñata. When it breaks open, there's a lot of surprises inside. Once you get the piñata perspective, you see that losing your mind can be a peak experience. ~Jane Wagner

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ammonianite View Post
    there's just too many techs laid off in this are.
    same here..

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    Quote Originally Posted by seuadr View Post
    I have to say i agree with this, at least, in my state. I've put in over 47 applications since i finished my 2 year degree.. the only companies that i see hiring right now are either A. Looking for a minimum wage condenser cleaning b$tch or B. heavy commercial/industrial companies looking for someone with 5+ years experience.
    When I started, I offered to work for free. They said, well we have to pay minimum wage, and it will be doing grunt work, and I said, no problem when do I start.

    The thing guys don't see is. You just need to get in. Then you work your way through.

    Not saying you, but many guys who come fresh out of school think being the b itch is beneath them. And what you don't understand is, by accepting a job to be the b itch usually ends up moving up from the b itch position if your not an idiot and demonstrate your worth.

    Get in, and wait till a guy quits or gets fired and then boom, your next up the pecking order.

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    Proably for certain parts of the country there may be alittle demand not much. I wonder if the 9 guys who just got laid off at advanced refrigeration in tallahassee fl, if they would agree with that

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    Quote Originally Posted by sw_lv2005 View Post
    Proably for certain parts of the country there may be alittle demand not much. I wonder if the 9 guys who just got laid off at advanced refrigeration in tallahassee fl, if they would agree with that
    one thing about refrigeration is, that you will never be safe at any shop. This is why it's extremely important to put in the hard work to know your stuff.

    Refrigeration is a funny business. One shop can boom for a few years, then slow to a crawl. Contracts run out, stores get saturated in an area so construction slows. Store chains come and go. This recession especially has rearranged the deck of cards for many chains and shops that supported those chains. You will notice if your in it long enough too, how chains will go in house, then go outside contractors, then back to in house techs. Plus you got boys like Hussman who for the third time in 40 years are consolidating independent shops. Walmart has had an effect on all of this too.

    Bottom line. If you know your stuff and stay on top of the technology changes and keep sharp, you won't need to worry.

    You ought to consider it to be somewhat of a transient thing. The term Journeymen comes from that. You journey to the next job.

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    Refrigeration customers are about the most unloyal around, they jump ship for a lower price or silver tounged salesman. A company that has 200 restaurants could go to 100 in 1 summer. Been ther seen it.

    In HVAC installers are on the chopping block, but a great tech is alway's needed somewhere.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gleng View Post
    I also hate to say this!!! Most young guys out of tech school think that they are ready for their own truck and to make $25.00 an hour.Sorry,been there.You still need to ride with a senior tech for at least 2 years(in most Cases) before you get your own truck.Maybe start at $10.00 -$12.00 per hour.I went to tech school 25 years ago,and still constantly go to school.i am now 52 years young.I still don't,and never will "know it all" I can look back at how little I knew coming out of tech school.now down grading anyone.We all have to start someplace.Tech school and job training(apprenticeship) is the right place.But too many young guys think they are going to make big money right out of tech school. WRONG You have to get field training and PAY YOUR DUES.HVAC is a good field.It takes time to learn .Once you learn,the money will come.Young guys must be patient.
    i went to tech school for about a year and a half. Got an interview with this commercial company the guy interviewed me he said he will call me by saturday he has a few others to look at. saturday came i called to follow up he said he liked my drive for the opening position and he will give me a chance. now i have been wrking for the same company 3 years being the lead tech at 22 years young we do ice machines, chillers, cooling towers, a/c, and refrigeration. #1 thing like you have already stated you must get the field experience. go out there like a sponge and absorb it all. once you know sumthn no one can take it away from you.

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    Seems to me, by the time your worth a darn,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,your all worn out.

    Then again maybe its the 60 hours i worked this week cleaning up after freatards.

    Im still astonished by what some people are to lazy or stupid to do.

    Hey Karen, find me a job in San luis Obispo Ca. who will pay to relocate me so i can retire early.
    You sure are cocky for a starving pilgrim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sw_lv2005 View Post
    Proably for certain parts of the country there may be alittle demand not much. I wonder if the 9 guys who just got laid off at advanced refrigeration in tallahassee fl, if they would agree with that
    people argue with me about why i dnt get my journeymans lisence. i tell them i rather keep studying and get better at trouble shooting. im 22 years old with 3 years field experience. everyone braggs about their journeyman techs. dont get me wrong its a good accomplishment and sumthn to be proud of. I worked with several journeyman that there age range is plus or minus 40 years old and still have not ran into 1 that can out trouble shoot me. it looks to me people buy there journeyman card these days.. Dont know how but i here its possible.. my question is whats more valuable a skilled tech or a journeyman tech.

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