I always knew that I wanted to get into a trade. The question was which trade I wanted to work in. One reason why I chose HVAC was because I would always have job stability. If I moved to a different state, or even a different country, I would be able to find work. HVAC/R Technicians are in demand in most every location around the world.
Installing both heating and cooling systems, technicians use mechanical skills. Sometimes they build stands to keep outdoor units off the ground, or brackets to place indoor units up high – that requires carpentry skills. They even do some electrical work to hook up the components into the electrical system. HVAC also requires a lot of thinking to troubleshoot and solve equipment problems.
I knew from my high school experience that I don’t learn well when someone reads the information from a book, or explains it on a PowerPoint. I have to physically perform the skills to understand them. At the start of the program, I was concerned that it was going to be a lot of book work. The longer we studied, and the more hands-on we did, the more I loved learning in the HVAC/R program
Chris was tough, but it was because he cared about us. He took the time to make sure we understood the concepts behind each skill we learned. When we studied natural gas, my confidence kicked in, and I knew I really wanted to work in the industry. Everything at MTTI made the program a great experience – my classmates, the teachers, and the whole building with its gas, oil and A/C shops.
“Javier was a great work ethic influencer for the class. He was usually the first student here and the last student to leave. He was never standing still, and was always getting the other students to help cleaning. He was always polite and courteous to everyone. He had a positive attitude every day which would rub off on the other students.” – Chris Cosgrove, MTTI HVAC/R Technician Instructor
Not all of them had openings for apprentices at the time I was scheduled to start internship. On one of our job search days during the program, I walked into High Tech Engineering. I had a conversation with the owner for almost an hour. He seemed to like me, but didn’t call me back right away. A few weeks later he called and asked to meet again, to see if I was the right fit for the company. The interview went well; I was hired to apprentice at High Tech.
I was nervous on my first day as an apprentice. At school, you know each day what you’ll be doing in the shop. First you learn about it in the classroom, and then you go do it. Working as an HVAC apprentice, you don’t know what you’re going to tackle next. When you arrive at work in the morning, they say “You’re going to be doing this”. You’re given the customer’s or client’s name and address. You go there and see what the work will be. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. My Apprentice Teacher at High Tech was with me to show me the ropes. I knew I would be in good hands and would learn a lot from him.
One day you’re working on a chiller and the next day you’re working on a hydronic boiler. We service natural gas units and do a lot of installs with mini splits and air handlers. Once we even worked on boats, installing mini splits on those boats with ten different heads. I feel like I’m a bit on the slower side because I take more time to understand what we’re doing. But they tell me I am learning quickly and will do really well in this industry.
When we serviced air conditioning units on the roof, all of the components I learned in the HVAC/R program were the same as those on the rooftop unit. As soon as we opened up the rooftop unit, I knew what I was looking at and understood what needed to be done. If I hadn’t gone to MTTI, I would have been clueless about all of those components.
The majority of people I meet in my industry are older than I am. Even at school, only a few of us were my age. The industry needs young people as older workers retire. Employers sometimes hesitate to hire young people. They want technicians who have a strong work ethic – good time management, teamwork, communication and customer service skills. I thank my parents for raising me to be really respectful, polite and well-spoken.
The instructors cram a lot of information into a short period of time; the program moves forward fast. If you are serious about learning a trade, I definitely recommend the school. It’s a great environment—and a lot less expensive than other schools in the area. Most important, they make sure you thoroughly understand what they are teaching.
Tour the shops and labs and meet the instructors. Choose the trade that is right for you. Just because I like HVACR doesn’t mean the next person will fall in love with it. You might prefer to be an electrician, or a carpenter. MTTI offers a Residential and Commercial Electrician program. For people who want to use multiple skills—carpentry, plumbing electrical and some HVAC—they offer a Building Trades program.
Opportunities in the HVACR industry are endless. I got my foot in the door by getting great training at MTTI and apprenticing with a good company, High Tech Engineering. I love what I’m doing as an HVAC Apprentice. I’m excited to continue working and learning, so I can advance in my career and build a good future.