11 In their own words
My Career Path
1. How did you get started in this job?
My dad worked in industrial controls and I went to work for an HVAC/R (heating ventilation air conditioning & refrigeration) wholesaler. That job got my foot in the door and let me get a job as a refrigeration apprentice. I completed my apprenticeship, got my ticket and I've had steady work ever since. The Canadian refrigeration ticket is recognized around the world. I've known of nine guys in Victoria alone who have taken jobs in the Cayman Islands, Australia and the U.S. Canadian refrigeration mechanics are very sought after. Check out HVAC.jobs.com. There are lots of openings.
2. If you knew then what you know now about the job, would you have done anything differently?
No, I've always got work with good pay and I haven't had to do a resume in 22 years.
3. What would you say to someone starting out in this career today?
I strongly recommend taking the pre-apprenticeship program. You used to have to be born or married into this industry because apprentices needed so much hand-holding. Now the pre-apprenticeship program gives you something to offer your first employer. Anyone starting out will also need good high school math skills. Unless you have solid trigonometry and algebra, you'll struggle with the pre-apprenticeship. The work is also feast or famine, so you have to be ready to work hard when the work is available.
4. Where do you see yourself going with this job in the future?
I plan to stay with Tirling Refrigeration for a long while. Everyone loves working here because we all work as a team. We all understand that good work means better referrals and a better company. Getting people on the same page is hard but it's what makes everything work.
5. What are some of the main forces of change in the industry right now? How will those changes affect you?
Americans are buying up many Canadian HVAC companies and pulling talent into the U.S. I also see prices being pushed down as start-up companies give low job quotes, but eventually they go bankrupt. There is a need for better business training for trades people who start their own companies.
A typical workday
||Tirling Refrigeration Shop, Victoria, B.C.- Pick up work orders for the day and organize jobs.
||Arrive at a restaurant and repair an ice machine that has broken down.
||Inspect a walk-in cooler at a hotel and determine that it has a faulty TX valve. I replace the valve, make a note of the part needed and time required to do the repair and put this with the work order.
||Grab lunch on the road between jobs.
||Inspect a gas heating unit that has failed and determine that it is a faulty ventor motor. I pick up a replacement and install it.
||Drop by a commercial building to look at a heat pump that needs to be repaired tomorrow. Figure out what parts will be needed.
||Return to the shop and turn in all completed paper work, including packing slips for parts used and hours to be billed for each job.