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Thread: Commercial installer looking to switch over to TAB

  1. #1
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    Commercial installer looking to switch over to TAB

    Iím currently in year 2 of my 5 year apprenticeship in metro Detroit. Iíve done a year in the shop and a year in the field. Iím considering switching my career path to TAB I was just wondering whatís the long term outlook for job security being a tab guy?

  2. #2
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    The more expensive energy gets, the more interested people get in efficiency.

    Balancing systems saves money.

    The need for Test and Balance should only increase in the future.


    If T&B is where you think you want to go, start learning systems now. Mechanical systems, Water, Air, Constant Volume, Variable Volume, Piping, Electrical, Sheetmetal, Chillers, DX, Safety Systems, Control Systems, Blueprints, Computers, and more..... Plenty of math, formulas, as well as physics and thermal dynamics concepts to learn too. Many T&B companies offer Vibration Analysis services too.

    Learn how systems are designed, and how they are designed to operate.

    Along with learning about all those systems and components, you need to learn about sequences of operation.

    You will not learn all you need to know from a book, or a classroom. You need to work directly with a mentor or two, who "honestly" know what they're doing.

    With steady work, the average tech will start to get a handle after a few months, and after a year or so, will normally be good enough to handle most simple balance jobs.

    There's a lot to learn, but if you learn it one bite at a time, it's not that difficult. But you must be dedicated. Not everybody can do it, or be good at it.

    There are some half assed t&b guys out there. Some think they are smarter than they are, or want you to think they are, and others who just don't care........don't be that guy.

    Keep in mind, as you learn, there are many more systems, pieces of equipment, and sequences of operation, other than what you will see in the northern climate of Detroit.

    I'm from the south, and we don't normally have a high concern for glycol levels in our water systems, and we tend to use a lot of electric heat strips for reheat. (little things like this)

    There are still lots of old pneumatic systems out there, and if you want to work when nobody else can handle the job, you might also consider learning pneumatics.


    Maybe Wayne can chime in here too.......

  3. #3
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    Thread Starter
    Artrose, thank you for your answer. I’m in a place where if I started t&b today I’d have 2.5-3 years to learn the trade. Your answer helps a lot.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmilo265 View Post
    I’m currently in year 2 of my 5 year apprenticeship in metro Detroit. I’ve done a year in the shop and a year in the field. I’m considering switching my career path to TAB I was just wondering what’s the long term outlook for job security being a tab guy?
    Is this in the same union? Are you willing to give up the time and effort already put in? Are you willing to give up accumulated Pension, Annuity, Seniority?

    Stick it out for another 3 years, see how it goes, then if you want the change do it. At least that way you can always go back.

  5. #5
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    Pecmsg

    Same union and the only issue with passing up on the opportunity is that when you are a journeymen the contractors wonít want to train you due to the high rates theyíll have to pay you. If I donít cut it as a t&b tech then I can always go back to the field.

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  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmilo265 View Post
    Pecmsg

    Same union and the only issue with passing up on the opportunity is that when you are a journeymen the contractors won’t want to train you due to the high rates they’ll have to pay you. If I don’t cut it as a t&b tech then I can always go back to the field.
    Then its up to you.

    Bottom line never ever pass up opportunities to learn. You'll never know when you'll need that knowledge.

  8. #7
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    SMW Union? How many years are Common Core with the other Service Trades in your Union?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmilo265 View Post
    Iím currently in year 2 of my 5 year apprenticeship in metro Detroit. Iíve done a year in the shop and a year in the field. Iím considering switching my career path to TAB I was just wondering whatís the long term outlook for job security being a tab guy?
    Job security in the TAB field is much better than it is for an installer. Even when construction slows down, we still have annual testing in hospitals, re-certifying fume hoods in Lab. facilities and testing in any other facilities that have EH&S requirements relative to airflow and space pressures. If you have good math, organizational skills and can communicate well with others, it may be something to consider. If you are in Local 80, talk to Matt O'Rourke about taking some TAB classes at the hall.

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  11. #9
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    self-marketing a few years into T&B may (4U) lead to also simply much more income: - as well as you are, and as your specific situation - and lead to appropriate leed-fee income and sales income and/or sales-staff flipping bonus checks your way.
    May help other trade 'friends' who know you can arrange simple bonus checks for you just in U pointing out a good customer needing a completely different help.

    When a first $400. 'thank-you' check arrived in the 90's, just mentioning to a comm roofing trade the need for a customer's new add-on, amidst hvac-job conversation, - what a bonus! I was hooked to learn to politely pay attention to some general situation, other than my own application. I learned to pay for similarly the conscientious inputs from others.

    Carefully polite, etc., all a win-win-win-win can result: Situation...

  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmilo265 View Post
    Pecmsg

    Same union and the only issue with passing up on the opportunity is that when you are a journeymen the contractors wonít want to train you due to the high rates theyíll have to pay you. If I donít cut it as a t&b tech then I can always go back to the field.
    Contractors want 20 years of experience in an 18 year old body.

    My union also offers TAB classes, which is a 40 week investment in a pipe dream. Good for them to generate school training funding though.

  13. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmilo265 View Post
    I’m currently in year 2 of my 5 year apprenticeship in metro Detroit. I’ve done a year in the shop and a year in the field. I’m considering switching my career path to TAB I was just wondering what’s the long term outlook for job security being a tab guy?
    I realize that the OP is a year old, but if you want to do TAB, and if you have a real opportunity to switch, do it now as an apprentice.

    If you wait, it will be virtually impossible to switch later, short of luck. Employers do not want to spend any time training you.

    I have heard the crying about being short of balancers for years, many people have foolishly taken the union hall classes in the hopes of getting a job. Myself included. I have a current TABB certification, have applied, no job to be found. Next meeting, the crying about the lack of balancers continue. I think its just a shill game to generate interest in the class.

    If you are a journeyperson without experience, the balancing companies do not want you. There is one company here that allegedly hires balancers without experience, but you are expected to perform out of the box, which makes it a discouraging proposition because you can't meet unrealistic expectations.

    There are balancers that have been doing it for years, and decades, without missing any work. There are others that don't. Some don't like working alone, some don't like the paperwork, some just don't like it. Then there are the unrealistic expectations and the pencil whipping. I have been on jobs where, because of the classes, do not know how it passed any sort of balancing job, without a magic pencil.

    Good luck.

  14. #12
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    Yep. It's all about the numbers. The magic pencil is the only way to achieve those numbers.

  15. #13
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    Most guys don't really like tab. Maybe it's the math. Maybe the work.

    I know there can be a feeling of accomplishment with hanging duct & setting equipment.
    You see the work.With tab it's all on paper. Also a lot of repetition.
    For those that like numbers and getting it right, it's good work.
    Just not for everyone.
    Those that don't like it, they often take short cuts that can jam up a company when an engineer
    doubts the numbers.
    Give me a relay with big enough contacts, and I'll run the world!

    You can be anything you want......As long as you don't suck at it.

    If a person wants to create a machine that will be more likely to fail...Make it complicated.

    USAF 98 Bomb Wing 1960-66 SMW Lu49

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