Jump Start your Career as an HVAC Technician with these 6 Tips
So you just got out of HVAC/R trade school you may have landed your first job as an HVAC technician. Your green. If you are working for an HVAC contractor, you are more than likely going to be working under an experienced HVAC technician or installer. Here are some tips for the beginner in the industry, how to get noticed and eventually become a great HVAC technician.
If you want to be a basic hvac technician that makes crap money then feel free to ignore all of this advice and do as you please.
#1 Show up Early and Be Ready
Don’t be late. If you are getting picked up, then you should be outside waiting, prior to the agreed pick up time. No one likes a late technician. Especially when you are just an apprentice. Be well groomed, showered, tools in hand, and ready to go.
When you do get out on your own, show up to your first job early. Take into account traffic, distance, whether or not you need to stop by the shop to pick up parts. I know sometimes it’s hard to make schedule for your calls throughout the day, but the you should always show up on time for your first call.
#2 Bring Your Own Tools
As an apprentice you aren’t going to be expected to show up with your own vacuum pump and recovery machine for your first couple weeks of riding along with a senior tech. You should have a small tool bag or backpack handy though. You should at all times have the following on you
- 11-1 screwdriver or something similar
- Multi-tool pliers
- Safety gloves, glasses, and hardhat
- Pen and small notepad
- Flashlight on your belt
You can easily keep all this on you and more with a tool back pack. You’re here to learn, and help the senior technician. The more efficiently you can do this the better.
#3 Volunteer Yourself Early and Often
Your riding along in the work van with a senior tech, you need to be helping them out every way that you can. I used to make my apprentices drive the work van. If you aren’t driving, you could be calling your next customer, giving them an ETA of when you will be there. Looking up the work history on the lap top (if any).
If your stopped at a gas station to refuel, get out of the van and do something. If there’s trash in the work van get it out of there. Wash the windshield. You don’t have to wax the van just show that your ambitious. Volunteer to go get your trainer something to drink, a coffee, do something productive. Don’t just sit in the van on your phone.
#4 Move Fast and Efficiently
Once you go on a couple of calls with your trainer, you may start to get a feel of what needs to be done on the job. Listen to what your trainer tells you and remember it for next time. If you are sent to go back to the van to get tools or a part, you need to move fast.
Grab the tool or part, and get back to them ASAP. This shows that you want to be there. Once you ride along with several senior HVAC techs, they will be talking about your performance among other techs and supervisors. You want to be consistently trying to get shit done in a timely manner. You have one shot to make an initial reputation for yourself.
You don’t want to be that apprentice technician that’s always on their phone, standing around waiting for something to happen, taking a cigarette break, and just being lazy. You don’t ask for breaks. They determine when break time is.
#5 Ask Questions and Volunteer to do the Dirty Work
If a job requires you to go into a hot attic to maintenance an air handler, your ass better be up there first. Clean out that drain line, change that filter, grab the heaviest tools that are required for the current job. Show initiative that this is a career for you.
Are you doing a compressor, or coil replacement? You need to be grabbing the heaviest tools required for the job. If your trainer is sweating in the compressor, then you should be finding a plug for the vacuum pump and have it ready to go.
If you are not sure about a particular repair, ask questions. Any work that your trainer has you do, make sure to do it clean. Make sure the service areas are clean, wires are neatly zip tied, components properly secured.
#6 Keep Your Cool
There will be times when you are struggling on the job in some way. You may be overthinking what you thought would be a quick and easy fix. Troubleshooting problems. Angry customers. Pissed off bosses, co-workers.
You will see this in the hvac industry, and many other industries as well. Decide how your going to handle these types of situations before they come up, because they will. I recommend staying calm when these situations present themselves. Being prepared for stressful situations can help you handle them better when they come, as it won’t be a surprise.
Final Thoughts for Beginner HVAC Techs
- Take pride in your work and jobs. If someone comes behind you and opens a access panel, it better be clean. Keep a small brush on you at all times for brushing wires.
- You’re going to get call backs when you first go out on your own. Don’t get crazy offended if a tech calls you out and lets you know. Learn from your mistakes and don’t make the same mistake twice.
- Don’t talk bad about your fellow workers, or other competing HVAC companies. There is absolutely no benefit in doing this.
- There will be times when the job is highly stressful, hot, and tension rises. You need to keep your cool.
- Be prepared to sell when needed. School will train you to fix stuff. You have to sell your skills to the customer though. When troubleshooting, be confident in your final diagnostic. You have to EXPLAIN this to the customer that may have a pretty high repair bill.
Accept ALL training offered to you. Take it upon yourself to get NATE certification. The more you know about your trade, the easier it’s going to be, and the more money you will make.
Do you have experience as a seasoned HVAC tech with some advice to offer apprentices? Then share it in the comments below!