View Full Version : Would like to become an AC/refrig engineer - seemingly impossible?

25-09-2010, 10:43 PM
Hi all,

Here's my situation.

I'm 29 years old, qualified in civil engineering with 3 years of highway design for local government. Government are laying a lot of people off so I've been trying to think of something else I could do.

I've thought long and hard about a career that I really want to do, and I can't think of anything that is realistically achievable (helicopter pilot, premiership footballer etc lol).

What does really excite me though is running my own business. I've had experience of this in the past and would love to do it again.

I got thinking about what businesses I could start. To cut a long story short, Air con has always interested me and there dont seem to be many of them around, plenty of work going etc, so why not give it a try?

I've been doing some research and it seems very difficult for an older newbie to get involved. Here's the problem...

1) You need to get qualified. I live in Norwich, the closest college I can find that does the NVQ/apprenticeship is Nottingham (6 hour round trip?).

2) Even if there was a college here in Norwich that did it, I doubt any employers would be taking people on older guys like me during the recession.

3) I'm 29, I have a mortgage (but luckily no wife or kids!), I've already been a student, I have a foundation degree in civil engineering, and I think this can easily be converted into 'construction', so I dont want to be a full time student (or full time apprentice earning 80/week).

The only possible way I can think to make this work is to do one of the (10 day) short courses to get the F-gas and pipe braising quals then offer to work for a local company for 1-2 days/week for little or no wage, allowing me to still earn enough to pay the mortgage through my current job for the other 3-4days (current employer ok with this), whilst gaining valuable hands on experience.

So, what are your thoughts on this?

How many years of experience do you need in the industry before you can go self employed?

Am I being naive? I've been thinking about this for about 3 months, usually my crack pot schemes only last about 5 days.

Thanks for listening.


26-09-2010, 02:17 AM
Do as you intend to do. You will probably find you will have to work 7 days a week including your exisiting job. After you have completed the C&G 2079, you should consider doing one of the other C&G courses that are more in depth than just safe handling of refrigerant and pipework and brazing. Then at least when you feel ready to ask for a skilled wage, they will have less exuses to give it to you. You might even feel confident in just doing the 2079, then starting on your own. But you will be better off getting experience first, afterall that is what makes you skilled.

26-09-2010, 10:23 AM
Thanks for your reply.

I'm thinking about doing the Crownship 10day modular course (1400). There are 6 days of basic AC training + 4 days to do the f-gas & pipe braising quals.

I would never consider goes self employed straight after, I would need experience to give me the confidence. I sent out some emails last week to local companies, got a call back from one of them but need to ring them back as was in the office. Sounds promising.

26-09-2010, 02:15 PM
Hi Christoph
I'm mechanical & have no experience too but when I had a training I found it easy & logical, I hope this 4 u. good luck

26-09-2010, 03:35 PM
Hi Christoph
I'm mechanical & have no experience too but when I had a training I found it easy & logical, I hope this 4 u. good luck

Could you tell me a bit more about the training you had? Thanks

26-09-2010, 06:56 PM
Contact Grimsby college. I believe that you can do distance learning with them. At least its on the same side of the country.
You are going to need somebody to employ you though. Or - get the yellow pages or yell.com and approach the lesser advertised, smaller companies for experience. You never know. The more letters you send the more chance you have.

26-09-2010, 09:14 PM
ICS also do an online BTEC level three course. Don't know what its like though, only ever done City & Guilds and higher national. There's no practical with the course just theory.

15-10-2010, 01:43 PM
Could you tell me a bit more about the training you had? Thanks

I trained on a bank building with central AC, 3 chillers I missed the installation of the chillers but I saw some of the internal units in some floors of the building. parts of it were not included in the central AC so they had split units.
On other buildings, It was new & great 4 me to see the installation of different types of split units.
After the training I made a cold store feasibility study, design & I'm waiting the implementation 2 start.
I read related topics from ASHRAE books & other cold storage book.
Sorry 4 being late in reply, I did not see your post.
Thank u

27-10-2010, 07:10 AM
Not enough at all.
Plus you should consider using specialist tools, software and manufacturer training.
It cost small fortune.