What are the struggles HVAC students and new techs face?
The struggles that face students and entry level HVAC pros have not changed much in the past 40 years. Proper training is really hard to get and then working for someone who is aware of the proper methods and codes is even more difficult.
Consider the problem of a business owner who is leading the company based on incorrect or minimal training. This entire company will not be better than the leader. The business owners are the source of the problem and the trade will change once we get them educated and passing that high level on down to the company employees as the standard. The struggle is to get company leaders aware of how much they don’t know and then to give it to them in layman’s terms so that it is easy to implement.
Since entry level students and technicians are not typically going to be owners yet, they need to take a positive approach to things that will help their career.
For example, everyone should have a 5-year plan. Without a plan for your future, you will probably not change much over the next 5 years. Set a goal and be proactive about making it happen. Take charge about asking for pay increases and explaining what you can do to deserve the increase. Seek to learn new HVAC skills and knowledge daily. Remembering something you studied or looked at last year will appear to you entirely different now with more experienced eyes.
Find out how the licensing works in your state and make sure you are taking those steps. For example, if you need credit of time working under a license holder, make sure you work somewhere that has this option. You could be working at a job doing HVAC work, but not receive credit for it if you are not under the supervision of a licensed person.
Finally, remember that running a business takes many skills and the HVAC repair part alone is not enough. Many excellent service persons fail because they do not seek out the additional skills needed to further their business interests.
Whatever your goals are, you will need to have resources to consult and gain information from. Luckily in the HVAC trade, there are many resources to rely on and they increase every day.
First and foremost, you should subscribe to the many trade publications that are available and read them cover to cover. These trade magazines and papers will keep you informed on almost everything that is happening. Changes in efficiency standards, code changes, refrigerant changes, EPA mandates, upcoming training and EXPOs of conferences. I consider these publications a must-have item.
Another excellent resource is manufacturer websites. Almost every manufacturer has a good website that sometimes has a ton of technical information. Some even take it a step further like Shurtape does with Tape University™ online. Visit these sites and get the information right from the source.
Supply houses have training all the time and a lot of it is free. You can simply not have too much free training. Usually supply house training is supported by the manufacturer and is extremely helpful.
An often-overlooked excellent source of information is the installation manual that every piece on equipment has. Typically, this never gets opened, but inside it has the codes you need to know for that piece of equipment and usually in a very easy-to-understand format.
You can see these are only a few of the wealth of information that is available to all of us in the HVAC trade. If you make learning part of your everyday, you will be at the top of this trade and will stay there.