A Q&A session with Jerry O., a HVAC specialist who owns his own heating and air company in Houston, Texas.

Q:  How long have you been a HVAC specialist?

A:  I have been in the business for 25 years, but I didn’t start my own business until 10 years ago.  Before that, I worked for a few different heating and air companies.  Part of that time I was working as an apprentice.

Q: What type of training did you have to become a HVAC specialist?

A:  The only training I had at first was my apprenticeship.  Back when I got started, that was really the only way to get in the business.  But, I later took classes at Austin Community College. I wanted to make sure I had the latest knowledge in the industry and wanted a little help with getting my own business started.  Besides,  I think customers pay you a little more respect when you can say you went to a certain school to learn the trade.

Q:  What do you like best about your job?

A:  I got into this business because I like working with my hands.  I like figuring out what is wrong with something and seeing if I can fix it.  Some jobs can be a little frustrating and hard to finish – especially when I am working in a tight area or when it is 100 degrees out and I am working on someone’s broken air conditioner.  Still, I like the challenge.

I also like that I get to help people out.  It is really satisfying to see the look of relief on a person’s face when I show up and get their unit fixed on the same day it broke down.

Q:  Describe your typical day on the job.

A:  I usually have some kind of schedule for the day, but I also take on emergency calls.  This means that some days can be really long because I might have a large number of people who need me to get there as soon as possible.  This sometimes means moving my schedule around so I can take care of the emergency situations.  Every job is like a new adventure since I can’t know what is wrong until I get to the customer’s house.  After I figure out what is wrong with the unit, I then have to order the part if I don’t have one in stock.

Q:  What traits do you feel are necessary to be successful as a HVAC specialist?

A:  I’d say being flexible is the most important trait.  You might start off the day with what looks like an easy schedule.  Before you know it, you are throwing your schedule out the window and you are working until 9:00 at night.  You have to be able to go with the flow and not get frustrated when your schedule changes.  I guess you have to be pretty organized too.  Otherwise, you won’t be able to fit all of your customers in and you’ll waste a lot of time that could be used fixing someone’s unit.

Q:  Would you recommend this career to someone else?

A:  Yes.  It is a good paying job.  And, even with the problems we are having with our economy, I am still working steady.  No matter how bad things get, people still need their heating and air guy.

Q: What is your next career move, if any?

A: Getting my own business going was always my dream and I have achieved that.  I guess I could try to become a franchise or something, but I am pretty happy with where things are now.  Really, for me, the next major goal is retirement!

Thinking about a career in heating, ventilation and air conditioning? Take a look at our list of HVAC schools in Texas to find a program near you.