How To Get Into HVAC With No Experience

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Today, we’ll discuss how to break into this field for those of you interested in pursuing a career in the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry. Whether you’re fresh out of high school, attending a trade school, transitioning from the military, or simply looking to switch careers, this article has something for you.

You contact literally every HVAC company in the area and inquire about employment opportunities for helpers/laborers.

Depending on where you live, people will jump at the chance of meeting anyone with a decent back and will not immediately commit suicide in an attic.

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Do not look at job applications. Simply call and inquire.

Someone will place you on an installation crew and you will quickly learn everything you need to know, especially if you are truly interested in doing it. Do not misunderstand. HVAC is one of the easier trades to learn, but it does have some disadvantages.

My father warned me that I would immediately enter service/mx and spend the rest of the day changing filters and jerking off. I did install for a year, learned everything I could about what a proper install should look like, was promoted to mx due to my communication skills, and while it’s easier than install, it’s not as simple as changing filters, turning on the system, putting my hand on a vent, and saying everything is fine and bouncing.

However, apply regardless of the two-year experience requirement. Do not anticipate being thrust into service immediately.

HVAC is a thriving industry that is not going away anytime soon. Year after year, systems become more complex, necessitating the use of skilled labor to install and maintain these pieces of equipment.

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If you’re looking for job stability, a competitive salary, and a willingness to work hard to develop a valuable set of skills, you’ve come to the right place.

Throughout my years in the trade, I’ve noticed a decline in young people’s desire to work in the construction trades. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find decent people willing to work hard and earn a respectable living.

The HVAC industry is a highly complex and skilled trade that, unlike any other, requires versatility. This field will challenge you on both a physical and mental level.

The trade as a whole is predicated on the exchange of heat. Heat transfer can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including refrigeration, gas and oil-fired burners, hydronic systems, air to water, air to air, radiant heating/cooling, geothermal, and absorption.

A strong understanding of sheet metal, airflow, piping, the refrigeration cycle, pumps/water flow, and electrical is required for this trade.

Numerous states even require that you obtain a license as an electrician by passing state and NEC (National Electrical Code) level testing and maintaining that license/certification throughout your career.

If you are a self-starting, motivated individual with a strong desire to constantly learn and improve your skills, the HVAC industry may be a good fit for you.

How To Get Into HVAC With No Experience

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Working in the HVAC Industry

Before deciding if this is the career path for you, it is critical to understand the advantages and disadvantages.

The benefits include a high-demand job that is available globally. Refrigeration and air-conditioning work will always be required, whether in manufacturing facilities, hospitals/medical buildings, office space, supermarkets, or residential.

The trade is extremely versatile and constantly changing, which is advantageous for someone who quickly becomes bored performing the same monotonous job.

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You will gain knowledge in a variety of fields, including pipe fitting, electrical work, tinning, welding, and mechanics (rebuilding compressors, fans, pumps, bearings, etc. )

How much do you earn as an HVAC technician?

Pay is also not bad and is entirely up to you. According to Payscale.com, an HVAC technician’s salary ranges from $31,000 to $73,000 per year, with an average of $21.16 per hour or $42,320 per year. I’m not sure where they get those figures, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that you can earn significantly more than that.

My annual income has averaged $123,000 over the last five years, and that is all hourly pay, no commissions or bonuses.

Personally, I know men who earn over $190,000 per year working for large companies. There are also other options, such as working on commercial cruise liners that travel the world (which I’ve heard pays well) or as a government contractor, which pays between $250k and $500k. If you choose to open your own shop, the potential for profit is entirely up to you.

Among the disadvantages of working as an HVAC technician are the working conditions, hours, and constant isolation.

All of these are highly variable depending on the aspect of the trade into which you enter. If you work primarily as a residential service technician, you may frequently find yourself working alone in a scorching hot attic, whereas a commercial installer working primarily on new construction may always be accompanied by a crew.

While service technicians typically have the most stable jobs over the years, they are frequently required to work late nights, odd hours, and on-call rotations. Working alone frequently requires an individual to be self-motivated and driven. If working alone is not for you, joining an install crew or working on new construction may be a better fit.

Fresh Out of High School – Interested in Entering the HVAC Industry

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s discuss how you can enter the HVAC trade.

Include projects that demonstrate your mechanical aptitude to compensate for your lack of experience.

As a recent high school graduate with no trade experience, it can be difficult to find a shop willing to give you a chance. It is your responsibility to sell yourself to a prospective employer. Why would they want to hire you? What distinguishes you from other candidates?

What can you do to assist them? These are the inquiries you should be making. You must understand that nobody owes you anything and that all businesses are in it to make money and profit.

If you can demonstrate the value you can add to their business, your chances of getting the job increase in comparison to another applicant who “just wants to work for money.”

As a recent high school graduate with no prior trade experience, you must understand that any employer who hires you is taking a chance by investing in you.

New hires are costly. Costs associated with orientation, vehicles, and training accumulate quickly.

If you do not exercise or if you do not move quickly, that money is effectively wasted. Therefore, any way you can demonstrate to a prospective employer that you are a sound investment will help you land the job.

A strong resume is critical when it comes to selling yourself to potential HVAC contractors.

Acquire certifications that demonstrate your commitment to working in the HVAC industry. To begin, obtain the following certifications: EPA 608 Universal CFC refrigerant handling license, electrical training card (consult the Interactive Map HERE to determine your state’s requirements), boiler operator, and so forth.

Any certification associated with your trade will only benefit you.

Additionally, create a portfolio to showcase your work. Consider projects you’ve worked on that demonstrate your mechanical aptitude or attention to detail. Rebuilding an automobile engine? Take photographs and document the event.

What’s the difference between dirt bikes and lawnmowers? A documented project of this nature demonstrates that you possess mechanical abilities in addition to organizational abilities and a desire to improve yourself.

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I can tell you from experience that an 18-year-old who brings me a well-written resume and a portfolio of their work is 99 percent more likely to get the job than someone who spends their entire free time playing video games.

Explain that you are seeking work as a helper in order to begin learning the trade and eventually become a Journeyman and a valuable member of their team.

Continue to apply. Each interview is an opportunity to gain knowledge and improve your performance the next time.

If you’re curious about the tools you’ll need to get started as a beginner in the HVAC trade, check out my post – What Tools Do I Need for HVAC?

What Do I Do Now That I've Graduated from Vocational School

What Do I Do Now That I’ve Graduated from Vocational School?

Networking is a critical component of any job search.

If you’ve decided to pursue an HVAC vocational program after graduating from high school in order to gain some knowledge and experience, that’s fantastic.

These schools are excellent places to establish your credentials and begin networking. You may not realize it yet, but the world is a small place. Individuals are aware of one another.

While enrolled in the vocabulary program, it is critical to develop relationships and network.

Your instructors probably know a lot of people in the industry and could easily assist you in finding work immediately upon graduation, but they are not going to risk their reputation for just anyone.

You must buckle down, study diligently, earn the highest grades, and establish yourself as the best. People want to assist others who work hard; however, nobody will go out of their way to assist you if you are not even attempting to assist yourself.

Develop relationships with your classmates; you never know where your paths will take you in the future.

One day, you may be offered an amazing job opportunity as a result of a relationship you’ve developed in the past. The bottom line is that if you work diligently in class and strive to be the absolute best you can be, others will notice.

HVAC skilled labor will never be in short supply.

Even so, the job market can be extremely competitive at times, and you may discover that employers are still looking for experience in the HVAC field despite your vocational training/degree.

How are you going to find work when every company requires between one and five years of experience?

My advice is to seek employment as a general maintenance technician. These positions are typically much easier to obtain with little to no experience and provide an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge of building and facility operations.

If this is the path you wish to take, I would recommend hospitals, hotels, and apartments. Buildings of this type typically have HVAC equipment, and most general maintenance technicians, in my experience, are severely lacking in the HVAC department. Your vocational certificate or degree in an HVAC-related field may significantly increase your chances of being hired by one of these facilities.

Vocational Trade Schools are an excellent place to gain knowledge and experience while also beginning to develop relationships with people who can assist you in finding a great job.

Vocational Trade Schools are an excellent place to gain knowledge and experience while also beginning to develop relationships with people who can assist you in finding a great job.

Once you’ve obtained employment, continue to work and learn as much as possible about these systems.

This knowledge will prove extremely beneficial in rewriting and updating your resume. Re-apply in a year or two to all of the HVAC contractors who initially rejected you; with a well-written resume, I’m sure you’ll have no difficulty finding work.

If you’re interested in attending a vocational school, check out this resource HERE, which lists numerous vocational schools and programs by state, along with their program offerings, graduation rates, and tuition costs. Check it out if that sounds interesting to you.

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Military Distancing

Now that you are free and in possession of that DD-214, you must figure out how to support yourself for the remainder of your years.

I believe that the building trades are an excellent option for Veterans, and there are numerous programs available to assist you in making the transition.

Bear in mind that if you are leaving the service, you almost certainly have access to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and should take advantage of it.

Whether you use it to earn a bachelor’s degree, vocational school, or even an apprenticeship, do not throw it away. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Helmets to Hardhats program, but there are also lesser-known options such as Troops to Trades and the UA Veterans in Piping Program.

A significant advantage of utilizing the Post-9/11 GI Bill while enrolled in an accredited on-the-job training or apprenticeship program is that you will be eligible for the following:

There are numerous resources available to assist you in transitioning from the military to the building trades.

During the first six months of training, you will receive 100% of your applicable MHA in the following increments:

  • During the second six months of training, you will receive 80% of your applicable MHA.
  • During the third six months of training, 60% of your applicable MHA
  • During the fourth six months of training, 40% of your applicable MHA
  • During the remainder of the training, 20% of your applicable MHA

Additionally, recipients of the Post-9/11 GI Bill will receive up to $83 per month for books and supplies.

More information about the OJT and Apprenticeship VA benefits can be found HERE. In some areas of the country, such as San Francisco, BAH or MHA can be extremely high, topping the list at $4398 per month.

This tax-free stipend is added to your weekly pay in accordance with the chart above and is intended to help offset the costs associated with an initial lower pay scale when you first begin.

The list of the highest BAH rates is available HERE.

Local Unions Are Frequently an Excellent Entry Point into the HVAC Industry

Labor unions are always an option for anyone interested in entering the HVAC or other construction trades.

Labor unions are always an option for anyone interested in entering the HVAC or other construction trades.

Whether you have no experience, a little experience, a lot of experience, or are transitioning out of the military, unions are frequently an excellent way to break into the trades.

If you live in a state with a strong local union, this could be an excellent opportunity. Check out this state-by-state list of UA Locals HERE.

You can frequently find information about state-sponsored programs as well as the wage/benefits package in your area by visiting the website I just linked to. If you’re interested in becoming a member of your local union, visit their website, download an application, and submit it in person.

Union HVAC programs are frequently five years in length, requiring you to work during the day and attend union apprenticeship classes in the evenings after work.

This can be an excellent way to begin a career while earning a living without incurring student loan or college debt.

Additionally, most unions have an agreement with their local community college that allows you to earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in addition to your journey-level certificate.

If union work is not for you, there are plenty of non-union jobs that pay just as well, if not better; you just have to do your research and be willing to look for them.

I hope this article has provided you with the information necessary to pursue a career in the HVAC industry; it is a very fulfilling and rewarding industry. Please feel free to forward this article to anyone who may be interested in pursuing a career in the building trades, or to contact me directly with any questions.

Author: Howard S. Baldwin

My name is Howard S. Baldwin. I am a work-at-home dad to three lovely girls, Jane + Hannah + Beauty. I have been blogging for the last 3 years. I worked for other Home and Lifetsyle blogs, did hundreds of product reviews and buyers’ guides. Prior to that, I was a staff accountant at a big accounting firm. Needless to say, researching and numbers are my passion. My goal is to be an informative source for any topic that relates to DIY life and homemaking.

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