Thought HVAC Techs made good money, what happened

well, i might not be a heavyweight, but i do know this... from being in the field for 9 years... you gotta start from the bottom to know if you like the trade or not... it's hard and UNREWARDING work in the beginning. i my self did new construction for about 3 years, running duct in new homes,, and it's not easy work, and did about 3 more years doing RETROFITS which is way harder work.... pulling out old oil and coal furnaces out of basements and attics and replacing them with natural; gas furnaces... so that includes running gaspipe in tite CRUMMMy crawl spaces and attics.... nasty hard work... i hate every bit of it.. and i've been a service tech for about 3 years... physically the work's not as hard, but you do need to have some brains to read and interpret wiring diagrams and electrical ladder diagrams and a good understanding of the refrigeration cycle and know how to interpret pressures, temperatures, subcooling and superheat of refrigerants into what they mean and what is the problem with the system and why it's not working... so it takes a lot of logic and understanding of how things work in order to do an orderly pricess of elimination as to WHAT THE PROBLEM IS with the heating/cooling system....

schooling's definately a good start if you want to be a good service tech.... but i do know a lot of people just don't have the brains to uderstand the mechanical and electrical theory behind the trade and the brawn to work hard in tighte attics and crawl spaces, give it a shot, i think it's a good trade. if you know what ur doing u'll never be out of work and u'lll be able to demand a decent wage since it's really hard to find guys that have both brains and brawn for the trade and know what their doing, i my self make about 50 grand a year and I WERE A GOOD SALES MAN... which i'm not... i would prolly be making twice as much and working half as little..
Worked in hvac for 12 years.The thing I have noticed is that things
need to change but honestly I dont think they are.The only way that
it would is if a real set of industry standards are set.Basicaly we
are in a trade where any body with a pulse can be an ac tech.Think about what if all it took to be a doctor was an office and a shingle
what shape would medicine be in?It would be where it started guys selling snake oil out the back of a wagon.I think nate certification
was a half hearted attempt to make some minimum standard.In the old
days trades paid better due to union membership having to go thru a apprenticeship so on.Some of our competitors dont even have a service department just a installer with no idea of what he is doing.However he knows just enough to make a sales pitch.

Until there are real standards not a 1 day test or rubberstamp from some local code requirement for you to be a hvac tech or
installer expect more of the same.
1st off, if you're so intent on "doing the right thing" then do it! you're the tech it's up to you...not the salesman...not the company... but you!
If you're as good as you say, than start your own business and put everyone else out of business. Personally, I think you like hearing youself talk.
FYI, systems aren't designed to last nor will they last 30 years, so stop blowing smoke up my butt!
I have over 30 years in this business, what about you?
i stand by what i said. there's a lot of truth in what i just said. if it happened to bother you it's prolly cos you're one of these people who's all about quick quick quick who gives a damn. ask just about any installer and they will agree with me, VACCUM PUMP?>? WTF?? . i could almost asure you 90% of people don't do their job as they should. i keep reiterating, YOU MUST TRIPPLE EVACUATE.... it doen'st take long and it's the right thing to do, however nobody does it. i'm told to not waste the time doing that, in fact we don't even have a functioning vaccum pump. and yes, AC compressors((compressors)) are made to last 30 years or more if you install them the way the factory would, and maintain them by keeping them clean((good air flow on both ends)) and charge them once they happen to lose some of their charge. they're basically a refrigerator, refrigerators are factory CHARGED and vaccked prior beign charged and their compressors will last well over 20 years if you replace starting relays and switches that break over the years etc etc. an air conditioner operates only thru the summer and a great majority of them tend to have compressor burn outs in about 10 years due to acid build up, dirty air filters that lead to compressor flooding etc etc etc... i say we need a REAL enforcer when it comes to these things. if you dissagree ur definately one of these RIPP OFF DUMMMIES. you're messed up bro.
Your rediculous editorial doesn't bother me at all, my work is done right..Triple evacuate lol.
You never answered my question of how long have you been doing hvac?
When evacuating what micron range should you be at?
When charging what is sub-cooling and when do you use this method?
How do you do sub-cooling and what is the range?
What is superheat and when do you use this method?
How do you do superheat and what is the range?
When brazing how do you prevent the copper from flaking?
have 18 years of hvac install experience 16 as journeyman ,w/about 10% service mixedn in. Been laid off since June. feeling too old to be crawlin around attics &crawls. would like to crosstrain over to communication wiring hvac/alarm/etc. any ideas on job availability preferably on the commercial end. Don't want to start out rock bottom, wages wise. Any advice will be appreciated.
wow things are suckin everywhere,wow.i can relate to the gentelman from san antonio.i use to work with Carrier company in south alabama,they have guys that have been there for yrs and only get paid peanuts,its real.i remember making estimates for a reefer unit that the price was very but very large and for simple stuff.
the company makes big bucks and tech. nothing.
sometimes i wish i could have a shop and do work for all of this customers that get robbed by dealers.
peanuts! no shiste! i think that's true of any trade or industry. workers will be paid worker wages!! skilled workers get paid skilled worker wages, either way it's wages, the boss makes the bucks that's how it works. last job i installed for my boss cost this lady 7,800$ tax included. sure she got a tax credit and some rebates from the local power company,, it was this rheem 2 ton air conditioner w/ a 10 foot lineset, 2 ton coil, and a 60kbtu 90 percent furnace and about 20 feet of 2 inch pvc for the exhaust, plus a little bit of sheetmetal work for a plenum, and no wires to run, the job was in an attic though, it took me 2 days mostly by my self. i did the math it, it might've cost him not even 3000 woth of equipement and materials, (1200$ furnace, 700 ac unit, 200 for coil plus misc)) sure you can bla bla bla about overhead costs etc. it's good to be the boss. i wanna be the boss. i think the only way you can make money is if ur a really good tech and do service work sidejobs.
Wow, alot of whining and "who's smarter" going on in here.. lol
Bottom line is that times are a little tough right now. You're not going to become "rich" being in the HVACR field. BUT... it's better than working at Taco Bell isnt it? If you have some common sense, work hard, take pride in your work and treat people right, there's no reason (under a normal economy) why you can't make between 40,000 and 60,000 a year for residential, and anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 in commercial. These are very broad ranges, but you have to remember there is no "standard" wage for this field. It all depends on location (what state and area you're in) and who the employer is. Also remember guys, if you become a good heating and air guy, that opens ALOT of other potential jobs in the industrial maintenance field. TAKE PRIDE IN WHAT YOU DO!!!!!!
It is such a shame to see a valuable industry such as the HVAC/R field so unregulated. In my situation, I was laid off (permanently) from the automotive industry. As a consequence, I returned to college in order to fatten my resume and in hopes of a better career. I went to East Central College in Missouri and, utilizing my prerequisites obtained in getting my B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering from the University of Missouri Rolla, was able to push the envelope and obtained my HVAC/R one year certification as well as my Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC/R in 1.5 years. I also tested and passed my EPA 608 Universal, HVAC Excellence Electrical, HVAC Excellence Electrical Heating, HVAC Excellence Air Conditioning, HVAC Excellence Heat Pump, and HVAC Excellence Gas Heat certifications. (These are a little tougher than the NATE certifications). I also received the R410A Safety certification that is "required" by most manufacturers for warranty work by technicians. Now bear in mind that I have an engineering degree, I worked as a chemical analyst for a subsidary of Monsanto, and was an electronics technician in the Unitied States Coast Guard. For all this hard work, I was only offered one position in the HVAC/R field for $12/hr and on call status as needed. What the F&*%$? As a result, I have made the decision to form my own LLC business here in south Denver and do my own thing. There is nothing difficult about this field if one understands the theory of operation of these systems. As stated earlier, "superheat, subcooling, sequence of operation, FLA, LRA, etc. I was absouletly amazed that during the one interview I did have, The lead technician had no idea what I was talking about when discussing the importance of the superheat measurement. I cut the interview short. I could not imagine working under a so-called lead tech like that. I have seen the newer Panasonic systems out there at 23 SEER. This systems will never be worked on by uneducated beer-in-hand tech
I feel ya! I have been in the field for almost twenty years, and I just bearly make over $22 an hour, when I can find work hear in saint louis. It's been a cruel fantasy. But the real villians are the company owners, they rake in millions while they pay little to nothing to the service techs. Then they only hold onto a precious few, while firing 30 to 40 people every year. Then start the process over again the next year. If I could go back in time I sure would not have chosen the heating and air conditioning fantasy, about how the baby boomers were retiring and how I would be in high demand and make over $100,000.00 annually!!!
I know the feeling been in the field for 13 years same thing happened to me,making good money then they let you go to make their portfolio look good to another company.Then when you try and look for a new job,the new companies want entry level over experience to cover their bottom line.Half way through my career thought about finding something else to do.This trade is not worth it sometime.
You can make 100K annually if you make the correct moves. As an EPA/ICE certified HVAC tech sure you will only see 12$ an hour to start because most HVAC Companies owners want to drive supercars and maybe give you a pat on the back for all the hard work you did while they sip champagne in thier 10 bed home. With only 2 years of HVAC/R training (Preferably Trade School)you can learn the mechanics if you push your mind to do so. Once you have that knowledge you can ask no less than 25$ an hour first off secondly you can make your own LLC or talk to the people who need the help while you work for some other company. It might be a backstab to the company you are working for, but in this business there are no real friends. If you think you can make a better deal happen for the customer in need; It can't hurt to put yourself out there because in the end the only one who is hurting is the one getting the short end of the stick, but doing all the work. Getting commercial is not about what you know, but rather who you know mostly. You have to make a statement by going door to door in your neighborhood if you have to and taking business from those reaping the most benefit from it. Once you become a well known name in your area companies will find you. Happened with me through experience and just helping where I saw the need. Learning how to fix it is great, but sometimes when it comes to supporting you and your family you have to go above and beyond yourself and make it happen. I plan to try and attempt the sales aspect while helping hvac trainees once I put things together. I was once like many of you. Needed a career and did not know what to do. HVAC came up in a discussion and I decided to go to school for it. I want to help those like us. I understand where 20$ an hour might make sense for upcoming HVAC companies, but in the end I would rather pay a few lead HVAC Techs 40$+ an hour for superior work while paying interns as we all were around 25$+ an hour.
As a business owner of a Mom & Pop HVAC company I have to say we are not all bad. My company has added 1 more office person and 2 additional field techs since the recession started. We have paid holidays, vacation, matching 401(k) and on average pay $3 more per hour then the going rate in our area for techs.
Anyone who has been in this field for less than 5 years (with or without tech school) is an apprentice. In my opinion the biggest lie about the industry is tech school. My Father-in-Law is a retired HVAC teacher and even he believes the lies that he tells his students about being "highly skilled" and "senior personnel" upon graduation. Do you know how long he spends teaching duct work in his one year class? One day! I asked him about it once and he got all blustery and stated that it was a different field, not related to HVAC...what does that "V" stand for again?
The recession hurt a lot of businesses, especially the ones who focused on new construction, but what it also did was weed out a lot of bad technicians! Knowledge of fixing the system is good, but to be a great technician you have to be able to communicate well, be well groomed and build a relationship with the cusotmer. I have customers who will wait (in the Florida heat) for "their tech" because they have a trusting relationship with that individual. I don't agree with companies who want to change out a system because of a bad cap or contactor, instead we build relatioships with them which means that over the course of 5 years they spend a few thousand in repairs and maintenances and then they drop $6 - $12K on a new system on top of all the repairs, a win win situation!
In defense of the business owner, most of us aren't raking it in as you would like to believe. I charge $75 for a service call, but it costs me $68 per hour to have a service truck on the road!
For those who are complaining about losing sales. My husband was an installer for 20 years, got his license started a business and had to become a salesperson.

Funny thing about sales, he is an installer who closes 75% of his calls, want to know the secret??? He reads books on sales. He buys a new one every 6 months or so and reviews the old ones all the time to stay fresh!

I run his business. I barely graduated high school and dropped out of college. Last year in 2009 in the middle of the biggest recession I hope to ever live through our sales exceeded 2008's by 70%; this year we are 40% over last years sales, not profit total sales. Want to know the secret? I buy business books. I get a couple every year and read the old ones all the time, even have markers in them so I know where to look when I need an answer to a question!

He graduated high school never went to college or even tech school; I graduated high school and dropped out of college...but we both learned to read! Want to suceed in this business or any other business, there is probably a book written on the topic, a good book is never a bad investment and if you have no money go to the library!
Yeah I graduated last summer from hvac school in Wisconsin and have been practically begging for a start in the business but like you said, they all want so much experience. I even offered to work part time for free just to get some hours under my belt but no one even calls me back. I moved out here to maine and its the same story. By the time the economy comes around I could finish school in some other field.
WOW!! I was recently laid off working in the auto industry at an auto manufacturing plant here in California, Toyota/GM. I had been there for 15 years and was making 32.00 an hour, bringing home 1,100.00 to 1,200.00 a week in my pocket after taxes. I was going to retire from the plant having invested so much into the company. I am now going through TAA and will be starting school for HVAC soon on a fully paid ride through TAA thanks to our government. I have been researching the different pay scales throughout the country for HVAC techs, and I have to say I am very disapointed. Like one of the previous repliers said, "what happened"?? why are HVAC techs not making the money they should be making? Reminds me of how school teachers are getting the short end of the stick. Really Sad.
I left the army after 12 years, went to school for HVAC at a local tech college. It was a 5 quarter program and I graduated with a 3.95GPA. I went to work 7 days after graduation with the largest HVAC Company in my area. I worked there for 3 years, started out making 15/hr and ended making 16/hr. It wasn't bad to start, although Washington State/puget sound area has a high cost of living.
There were incentives to sell equipment and service that was generous at first, then they cut all that back. The only way I supported my family was working overtime every week and being on call every few days. Can't really say I recommend this field. I quit there early this year when we were slow. Now I'm seeking a new career path.
ok.. so i read most of the posts and I was thinking of going to this field I am at a young age and I just really do not think I can sit at a desk all day, I have the urge of always being outside.. I am in the process of going to school for computer information systems and majoring in computer application engineer... by going through school i really think i want to change the field of study and go into HVAC can anyone help me out? stay in computers or go with HVAC??? I am a very hard worker and can sell someones shirt off their own back to them for double the price.
Apr 25, 2011 Solution
I’m a licensed HVAC contractor in Florida. I’ve been in the field since 1983 in commercial air, refrigeration, ice machines, residential air. My advice to you is get into sales with your skills. My son is 19 and he is good at sales, I don’t want him to go into the technical/ repair side of HVAC “even though he wants to" because he will wind up 50 years old and still crawling in 120 degree attics!
In HVAC thing only get harder when you get older, you will start making LESS money and it gets harder to find an employer that will take a chance on an older guy. You physically can’t do what a 30 year old can do. The HVAC field is not a career you"JUST GET OUT OF" you will spend your blood, sweat, and tears to learn the technical side of the field. Most techs have a hard time giving up their career because you have put EVERYTHING into learning and buying tools. After 5 or 10 years you find yourself on a site like this writing the same comments I’ve heard for 20 years. Things like: Owners make all the money, techs don’t get paid much, I’m on -call all the time, I have no benefits, other techs are stupid, people that flat lie to customers make all the money and so on. As I said, go into sales that is a transferrable skill all business’ need. If you are good, you will be paid well and can work to a ripe old age and still use your skill
i agreee, i never thought to get into sales my self since my english isn't as good as it could be, and also, i am not a sales person kind. i have been a technician since i was 19, now i'm 30 and even though i love my job i know i won't be loving it when i'm 50 years of old. i work on commercial refrigeration, restaurant equipment, ice macs hvac etc, and the knowledge and problem solving has to be vast for you to be an efective repairs man. i make 25$ and i'm always on call, i work lots of time, and last i only made 45,000 and i think i won't ever make more than that. the plus side of the trade is that if you have the people skills you can start your own company. but i am very screwed because i am not good with people interaction. i can fix anything, maybe not if it's very very old machine. but i can not fix people,
People certainly have gone straight into sales without the benefit of being technicians first, this is seen often at "Big Box Stores" (Lowes, Sears, etc.) that then sub out the work to a licensed A/C company, the problem is that many of these sales people have no idea what they are really selling; they do not understand the dynamics of airflow and therefore the high efficiency system that the customer has purchased does not operate right, breaks down more frequently and does give the H/O the energy savings that they could have had.

That said a true and honest sales person who actaully studied the dynamics of air-flow, the different types of systems available today (high efficiency A/H vs Variable Speed A/H) could very well succeed in the market.

The HVAC industry is changing very quickly and the mail problem with the industry is that there are not enough knowledgeable techs and salespeople out there. Techs come in thinking that they will be making great money, when the truth is that is takes about 5 years of working as an apprentice (or that dreaded title "helper") before they can go out on their own. For those with less than 5 years exeperience consider that you are learning a trade (like college) but unlike college you are getting paid to learn.
OK for everyone talking about sales vs. being a technician, I would suggest companies that want professional SALES people other than people trained in HVAC sales. With that said, let me tell you why. In my opinion (30Years) most HVAC owners are not good sales people. Most look down on sales people and don’t treat a top sales person like an asset. I’m going out on a limb here to suggest finding a company such as One Hour Air or an AirTime 500 company to work for as a salesman. I would go as far as saying if you are a new tech (with a good attitude) to look into these companies. These companies are part of a group that hires people with other skills that can SELL. They will train you on how to sell HVAC systems and close a call. You don’t have to know superheat or load calculations to be a top person. They will teach you what you need to know for their business. I was an AirTime 500 contractor for a while and I know their techs and sales people make well above the industry standard wage.
I don’t fully agree with their tactics, but in business RESULTS are what matters!
As for service techs, if you go in to them with jam-up confidence and willingness to learn and SELL they will send you to school!
Good luck
Sales are a write your own pay check type of job. See my post farther down on One hour air and Airtime 500 companies. Don’t try for a HVAC sales job where the company pays you an hourly wage with a small bonus. As a sales person you want to make what your worth, not be stuck in the system. Don’t work for a company that hands you their files and expects you to go get the business, until you know what you’re doing. The aforementioned companies (one hour/ air-Airtime 500) will train raw recruits in the sales of residential HVAC. You will have only one chance to empress them to get the job, so make your interview good. The range of pay is 50 to 100k, plus good perks! The best thing is… they love it when they have to pay sales people over 100k a year! That means you are making them money!
I just went on a no cooling call yesterday, the furnace had been changed but the coil & condenser, line set were the original from 1974, it was a Lennox unit, had dirty filter, dirty condenser coil, low on refrigerant after i cleaned the coil and the low voltage wire was cut when the homeowner decided to clean the yard, there are some out there still running, but how efficient are they? some rather pay high utlity bills than spend the money.
I have a small hvac business, I am licensed & insured, but I am nothing like your boss, I take pride in my work, he's making alot of money but will probably pay out as much in lawsuits or get alot of complaints on the BBB or even get complaints at the State licensing board level. Business is very bad, alot of handymen and maintenance techs are driving down prices., I am looking into going overseas to do hvac for a year and see how that goes.
I have some friends that were working on average 3 days a week and they were working for some of the large companies, alot of people have lost jobs and the decision is to replace/repair unit or have roof over there heads and food for there kids.
Alot of companies moved to the south to get away from Unions, I wish it was a way to regulate the Industry here, all these maintenance techs are trying to do hvac and homeowners want licensed contractors to drop down to there prices.
Jun 24, 2011 Solution
jesus... this trade has gone from bad to worse. no one wants to pay period, the customers peddel your price, your boss expects you to give up your life for 18 an hr and no benefits. then you have people who buy into HVAC companies that have never performed the trade in their life, let alone know anything about it, they are just businessmen looking for ways to make money, and they only think of their bottom line not yours,that van (And in some cases that beat up thing) is more important to them than you are, you as the tech, installer, laborer, are just human machines to make the owner money, and you get not much for it, i.e making straight time, when you are charging the customer OT, sitting on the pager all weekend and not being compensated for it. and when times are bad, your laid off. and that van is still on the road. now, who or what do you think means more to the owner.?
If i had any advice to offer it would be run while you can, go drive a truck, join the military, go to college and learn something that is going to offer a better wage, a better life, and not beat you up in the process while the person you are working for is getting rich of your back.
oh ya forgot to mention,"Being A good tech" try your best, double check yourself, and be nice to the customer.
Now reality.. it is very difficult to check your work and take your time so you do not miss anything when your boss or the service managwer is up your A** because they are getting backed up, and you cannot get anything compleated because your cell keep ringing, and the office is wanting to know your status, and saying "You need to speed it up"
And very difficult to be nice to customers, when you have been worked to death for 15 hours in 100 degree heat or below freezing temps, or when they page you at 3 AM.
if you do not hate people, trust me you will after a few years in this industry.
I have personally known 2 guys one HVAC and one an electrician who where both killed in Afgan, not by crazy terrorist but by the nature of the work. both where electrocuted. and these guys knew what they were doing, it's the military and they stuff they use and have has been designed by the lowest bidder. ao your right it is not worth it.

You are also correct about employers not wanting to invest anything into their employees.HVAC owners are notorious for not training their employees. they all think your going to take the knowledge to their competitor. And if you get any training it will bet 1000 bucks it is in SALES! That is a win win for the company.
The HVAC trade is not F’ed up because of the nature of the work, but because of the owners. I am starting a website that is going to be all about how HVAC companies operate, and all of their little tricks to remove a customer from their money.
John go back to school, if you want do HVAC on the side, then you can make good money doing it, on top of your steady job.
All I have to say is AMEN to this!! I am the business manager of my family owned company, I work 70-80 hours a week to make sure my guys are busy and have work(only getting paid for 40 by my own hand), I do payroll, I pay the bills, I give everything (or it seems like) I make to the government except my first born child, I do not have a yacht or beach place or sports car or mansion on a hill or rake in millions of dollars into an account. My technicians either are my family or like family and they mean the world to me. We are blessed.
America was founded on hard work, dedication and faith. In what school did they teach that anything should be handed to you? None of us are deserving of anything and it is ONLY by the Grace of God that we have ANYTHING!!
So I will continue to work 70-80 hours a week (only getting paid for 40), I will continue to pay my motgage on my average house, and I will continue to do what it takes to run this company and thank God for my blessings EVERYDAY.
PS.. I will also Thank Him that I do not have technicians that feel the way some of these people on here do.. news flash that is probably why you don't have a job!!
well if you dont want the responsibility dont work for yourself.the way the government views it is simple if you cannot net 300.000 plus per year you should be working for someone not yourself, it is the Corporatization of America.
as for education and experience... i have 23 years in service... i do DDC controls.... i am a license stationary engineer.... and i hold a BS degree in business... and the owners of the mom an pop companies still insult me by offering 16 per hour. i got in 99.9% of the cases more experience than the owner interviewing me.
if you guys want paid go union or go home.. the small mom and pop places will work you to death when they have the work and lay you off when they dont run boys
A/C Girl. I take offense to you feeling that because a person speaks their feelings...then that means that they have a bad attitude. Sounds like to me your directing your comment to some particular group of people.. I wonder who it is? From my point of personal experience when I hear the tone that your taking here.. its usually from a company that not only doesn't care how good of a Technician I am, I'm excluded because of my Race.. but also has no.appreciation for the fact that my record breaking ability to run 4 service calls before noon, without having call backs and averaging $1500.00 a day..Its just my observation and my opinion.... That I should be able to express without it being taken like I have a bad attitude. I worked hard to become a well rounded technician, I have all the necessary tools and equipment. I have
20+ years of experience in field/ install depts. I currently teach Hvacr at the most prestigeous trade colleges in the Country. This is a forum for peoples of this trade too vent, not for wealthy company owners too lash out about nothing.... You make very good money. I have sold hundreds of jobs for companies like you... The profit is incredible..and on the service end also the profit merging should be illegal.
Seems to me employers are looking for guys that can do it all. It used to be there were service guys and installers. Now many employers want guys that do both. If you are shy on the skills of either, work is hard to find, at least here in Wisconsin.
I am in St.Louis and its very difficult here also. I have 20 years of experience along with 2 years of classroom and lab experience as an instructor, but know employment. My last job was Service Manager making a 1990 wage, even then the company wanted me to babysit its technicians, run service calls, manage accounts, do installs, plumbing, and refrigeration, even work overtime without pay. These companies are charging ridiculous prices, but refuse to pay more than $23 per hour to the technicians doing the work. Now to kill the cat they are making it impossible to even start your own company by collaborating with the city halls and the part stores to prevent you from getting quality equipment to install and make you have a pull permits to install even a dishwasher.
Hi guys it's my first time here, I'm a member of local union 638, still junior mechanic and I am unemployed for almost a year now, just asking what happened to our trade ? I thought we have stable jobs, I have been in constant contact with the Union business agent but sadly there is no jobs out there....I tried to work non-union shops it sucks !
May 15, 2012 Solution
Either that's the biggest crock of bull I've ever seen or you have no clue how to run a business! Operating a truck doesn't cost anywhere near "$68 an hour", not even commercial big rigs cost that much to operate. Don't try to insult everyone's intelligence by claiming you only clear about $17 an hour after expenses. That would make your tech wealthier than you, and we all know that isn't true. It's liars and con artists like you who have run the profession into the ground with your poor business practices and excuses for low balling on pay.
Well said, there is a big market for repairs, if you can get hooked up with some home warranty companies, but you will work longer and harder doing repairs on equipment that you know should be replaced, there are alot of customers with 20+ yr old units and if you been in this business long enough, you know what happens, you make a repair and then something else goes out and the customers will want you to fix that on your dime, saying, "your were just out here", "it was working fine before". Be careful, all money isn't good money, but being self employed is a good way to go, it helps if you have some working capital.