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LeBron Hill

Hvac Technicians Step Inside...

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I am 27 years old and have been a diesel mechanic for the past 7 years. I have been thinking alot lately about changing my profession. I am thinking about going into HVAC and studying to be a chiller technician. I would like some of you guys feedback on the profession. The job I am at now has no retirement, no 401k, no sick days, and only 5 days of vacation after 7 years of service...(yeah it kinda sucks). I am about to get ready to try to start a family and I need to look into a profession that allows me to prepare for my future. I would like to hear some opinions and if possible discuss some other information with you guys privately through pm's...this is a big step for me because diesel trucks are all that I have ever known but working 50 hrs a week and making 50k a year for the rest of my life just isnt what I had planned for the rest of my life. Thanks in advance for any input guys.

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Where are you from ? I've been a diesel mechanic for about 19 years and have 4 weeks vacation. We're a dying breed, there is now and always has been a demand for us. I get job offers often (I'm on the road) because there are no decent mechanics to be had in this region (East Coast). Sounds like you're getting screwed big time...Unless you're in the middle of nowhwere where your employer is the only game in town, you need to split.

There's a HVAC guy on this board named slonezp. I'm sure he'll put his $.02 when he sees this.

Good luck.

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Yes I know...I am getting screwed. I work in Atlanta. I have had quite a few job offers but no one that seems to want to pay much money. The International dealership will pay good money but its all on flat rate. I dont have a problem working but what concerns me is what will I do on weeks where the work isnt there? I just sit back and look at the big picture, not next week but 15 years down the road. In 15 years do I still want to be layed up under a truck with oil dripping in my face...the answer is NO. I want to do something that I can have the opportunity to spend more time with my family. I like challenging myself and learning new things and think that this would be something that I would be interested in.

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What makes you think being an HVAC/R tech will allow you to spend more time with your family? Steady income LOL. I've been in the commercial/industrial end of the business for the better part of 15 years. Worked at a non union shop for 12 years and have been at union shops for the last 3. First off, your paycheck will depend on the weather. You need to be willing to work ALL the time when there's work. If you don't the shop will have you sitting at home when it's slow. They remember things like that. Secondly, if you don't want to get your hands dirty anymore this isn't for you either. This trade is comprised of many trades. Electrical, plumbing, mechanical, piping, welding, computers, construction, carpentry, puuematics, sheet metal etc. There are compressors as big as the diesel engines you work on.

Yes, you can make a good living but it won't come quick and easy. I don't know what the market is in Atl. but in Chicago the starting pay is $12-15 an hour after trade school. The construction industry is dead right now and has been for a couple years. I do all service work and have never been unemployed.

My knees are shot as well as my hip. I've had surgeries on my ankle and shoulder. I work in extreme heat and cold blah, blah, blah.

Any other ???

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What makes you think being an HVAC/R tech will allow you to spend more time with your family? Steady income LOL. I've been in the commercial/industrial end of the business for the better part of 15 years. Worked at a non union shop for 12 years and have been at union shops for the last 3. First off, your paycheck will depend on the weather. You need to be willing to work ALL the time when there's work. If you don't the shop will have you sitting at home when it's slow. They remember things like that. Secondly, if you don't want to get your hands dirty anymore this isn't for you either. This trade is comprised of many trades. Electrical, plumbing, mechanical, piping, welding, computers, construction, carpentry, puuematics, sheet metal etc. There are compressors as big as the diesel engines you work on.

Yes, you can make a good living but it won't come quick and easy. I don't know what the market is in Atl. but in Chicago the starting pay is $12-15 an hour after trade school. The construction industry is dead right now and has been for a couple years. I do all service work and have never been unemployed.

My knees are shot as well as my hip. I've had surgeries on my ankle and shoulder. I work in extreme heat and cold blah, blah, blah.

Any other ???

I'm feeling it too. I roasted in a boat's engine room today for 10 hours, 5 months ago I was bundled in Carharrts working a fuel barge on the Delaware River. It was about 8* that night

Thank God I have daughters. Nobody is following me into my trade. I'm 46 years old and the 'rookie' of our 9 man road crew. What's that tell you ? :blink:

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My cousin just got out of trade school for his HVAC and he works in the Tuscaloosa area. He worked 70 hours when the tornado hit Tuscaloosa. He left that factory after 2-3 months because a yacht club offered him a position with slightly more pay and better benefits. That is pretty much all I know about his job. lol. He said he was getting crazy hours at the factory where he started working. He told me the yacht club offered him 40 hours a week with better benefits. I cannot imagine a yacht club being more hectic than the factory he was working at. lol.

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What makes you think being an HVAC/R tech will allow you to spend more time with your family? Steady income LOL. I've been in the commercial/industrial end of the business for the better part of 15 years. Worked at a non union shop for 12 years and have been at union shops for the last 3. First off, your paycheck will depend on the weather. You need to be willing to work ALL the time when there's work. If you don't the shop will have you sitting at home when it's slow. They remember things like that. Secondly, if you don't want to get your hands dirty anymore this isn't for you either. This trade is comprised of many trades. Electrical, plumbing, mechanical, piping, welding, computers, construction, carpentry, puuematics, sheet metal etc. There are compressors as big as the diesel engines you work on.

Yes, you can make a good living but it won't come quick and easy. I don't know what the market is in Atl. but in Chicago the starting pay is $12-15 an hour after trade school. The construction industry is dead right now and has been for a couple years. I do all service work and have never been unemployed.

My knees are shot as well as my hip. I've had surgeries on my ankle and shoulder. I work in extreme heat and cold blah, blah, blah.

Any other ???

I have been in the hvac r industry for 13 years now, union for 8 of them. I really enjoy the work, but as slonezp says, it is not the field to be in if you are looking for more family time. I have never been laid off, the company that I work for now, going on six years, is extremely busy. We do a lot of refrigeration work, cold storage, meat plants, and supermarkets. This emphasis on refrigeration keeps me working anywhere between 400-800 hours of overtime each year. No vacations allowed May through September.

You just need to remember that you are only as good as your last service call. If you messed up, they remember, if you did well, they forget as soon as you f up again.

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I'm feeling it too. I roasted in a boat's engine room today for 10 hours, 5 months ago I was bundled in Carharrts working a fuel barge on the Delaware River. It was about 8* that night

Thank God I have daughters. Nobody is following me into my trade. I'm 46 years old and the 'rookie' of our 9 man road crew. What's that tell you ? :blink:

I spent the last 2 days evaluating equiptment in a bank owned restaurant for a potential investor. The restaurant has been closed since 2009. Ever see what mushrooms growing undisturbed for 2 years inside a cooler look like? :puke1:

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I spent the last 2 days evaluating equiptment in a bank owned restaurant for a potential investor. The restaurant has been closed since 2009. Ever see what mushrooms growing undisturbed for 2 years inside a cooler look like? :puke1:

Pics or it didn't happen. B)

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Pics or it didn't happen. B)

How 'bout I send you a mushroom. B)

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Even better.

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I was thinking about HVAC, but after I got some advice from guys who do it, I decided against it.

It seems like extremely hard work and long hours. You have to have a big passion for it to do it and it seems like you don't know much about it.

I am going to school in August for automotive technology or Diesel technology and I really have a passion for cars.

We'll see how big that passion is once I get out in the real world and start working though. :lol:

My advice, try to find a better job in the diesel field because it sounds like yours sucks, but you have a passion for it.

Take this with a grain of salt obviously.

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Well I guess I dont know what to do then...lol. I am good at what I do, but I am just burnt out on working on diesels though. Maybe its because of the crappy place that I work for now, who knows. I am with you on the knee problems...I just had knee surgery last Thursday on my left knee for a torn meniscus. I am kinda at a crossroads in my life. Diesel mechanics is all that I have really ever done. I dont know what else there is out there that I would be good at and possibly make more money. You just dont see many diesel mechanics making killer money. I just want to better myself and try to make a better life for my family. Going to school fulltime is out of the question so I just have to go with what I can do while working a fulltime job.

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Well I guess I dont know what to do then...lol. I am good at what I do, but I am just burnt out on working on diesels though. Maybe its because of the crappy place that I work for now, who knows. I am with you on the knee problems...I just had knee surgery last Thursday on my left knee for a torn meniscus. I am kinda at a crossroads in my life. Diesel mechanics is all that I have really ever done. I dont know what else there is out there that I would be good at and possibly make more money. You just dont see many diesel mechanics making killer money. I just want to better myself and try to make a better life for my family. Going to school fulltime is out of the question so I just have to go with what I can do while working a fulltime job.

One field that is hiring alot now is Truck drivers, With your back ground in diesel mech. Why not think about owning and operarting a semi truck, Good money to be had.

I drove a semi for 10 yrs. and quit to get back into remodeling carpentry and now 15 yrs. later with not alot of decent paying jobs out there I might get my CDL back.

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You could always consult with a financial advisor to help set you up with retirement funds. I've known people whose employers never contributed to their retirement or kid's college funds and they still did well for themselves down the road. They have college funds that are tax exempted. There has to be a financial advisor in your area that is good at what he does in terms of helping you plan out your budget and retirement. He or she may change your life. It's worth a look into.

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I have never work in HVAC so I can't tell you what it is like.

But I do Marketing for a HVAC guy and I can tell you that come summer time around here that market is booming.

Its sad because I do marketing for a lot of trade guys and this is what I can tell you. The business is out there people just have to find you and so many guys aren't findable where people are looking for them.

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Another thing I forgot to mention is most shops are on call 24/7 for emergency work. They rotate weeknights and weekends between the crew. I also specialize in refrigeration. tjc mentioned about the OT. Food is expensive and grocery stores, refrigerated warehouses, and restaurants have no problem calling you out in the middle of the night. 12-16 hour days are not uncommon. (sometimes more) So much for family time.

I enjoy my job except for the toll it takes on my body.(Nothing a little whiskey won't fix)It pays well, and now that I'm in a union shop the benefits are good.

If you decide to get into the business, I'd recommend staying away from the residential end. Alot less work and many shops are comission based. Get into the commercial/industrial service end. Learn all you can, and keep learning. If you know how something works, you'll also know how to diagnose it properly when it breaks. Plus the more equiptment you know how to work on, the more your worth. Good shops are willing to pay for good techs.

Good luck, and if you have any more??? Don't hesitate to ask.

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I have never work in HVAC so I can't tell you what it is like.

But I do Marketing for a HVAC guy and I can tell you that come summer time around here that market is booming.

Its sad because I do marketing for a lot of trade guys and this is what I can tell you. The business is out there people just have to find you and so many guys aren't findable where people are looking for them.

ALL trades are short on good techs for many reasons. One is kids get it drummed in their heads from day one if you don't go to college, you'll end up in a trade. There's a stigma to it. So a lot (not all) of the people coming out of trade schools are useless, while thousands of college graduates are chronically unemployed. I'm not knocking college, but it's NOT the only way to be successful.

Another reason is like slonezp said, it takes years to build up enough skill and experience to get the big bucks. Everyone wants to come out of school and get $65,000 a year + full bennies to start and no nights or weekends. We stopped advertising for mechanics years ago, it's not worth the aggrevation interviewing zombies and bullshi**ers.

The bottom line is if you have a skill, you will always have a job. I have never been laid off, because they know I (or any of my co workers) could walk into a competitor and have a job within an hour. That's the reality employers have to deal with.

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I know I could get a better job with more benefits tomorrow in the same field, I already have 2 offers, BUT I just am not sure that this is the profession that I want to pursue for the rest of my life. I worked 50 hrs a week and did online classes at night to obtain my Accounting degree. I just dont really have any interest in being an accountant. Im not the suit and tie kind of guy. The job I am speaking of is strictly commercial, no residential whatsoever. Said I would be on call one weekend out of every 4 months( I dont have a problem with that). I work 10 hours a day right now and live an hour from work so basically it is 12 hours a day. I am going to talk to the guy, see what he has to offer, and think about it some more. Its a big decision for me but one thing is certain, I have to move on from my current place of employment. I am topped out and will never progress any further. Who knows, there might be a job out there better suits my lifestyle. I feel like if I dont try then I will never know. I know that when I busted my butt in school to stay on the honor role I never thought that I would see myself turning wrenches for a living for 50k a year. Funny how life turns out I guess. There has got to be a better way!

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I know I could get a better job with more benefits tomorrow in the same field, I already have 2 offers, BUT I just am not sure that this is the profession that I want to pursue for the rest of my life. I worked 50 hrs a week and did online classes at night to obtain my Accounting degree. I just dont really have any interest in being an accountant. Im not the suit and tie kind of guy. The job I am speaking of is strictly commercial, no residential whatsoever. Said I would be on call one weekend out of every 4 months( I dont have a problem with that). I work 10 hours a day right now and live an hour from work so basically it is 12 hours a day. I am going to talk to the guy, see what he has to offer, and think about it some more. Its a big decision for me but one thing is certain, I have to move on from my current place of employment. I am topped out and will never progress any further. Who knows, there might be a job out there better suits my lifestyle. I feel like if I dont try then I will never know. I know that when I busted my butt in school to stay on the honor role I never thought that I would see myself turning wrenches for a living for 50k a year. Funny how life turns out I guess. There has got to be a better way!

I know a lot of people that wishes they were making 50 G's a year , hell I know a lot of people that wished they had a job. It could be worse for you but you are right about finding another company to work for. It does appear you're in a deadend company. Good luck.

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oh dont get me wrong...i am thankful for even having a job, but everyone has to want to better themselves. This job is great for now but I would like the opportunity to know that when I am 50 years old that I will be working for a larger salary and alot better benefits. Im keeping my fingers crossed and I should know more next week.

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