I was lucky enough to have a mentor in the industry.
Long before I got my certification I was what we call a “helper” which is basically the assistant to an HVAC tech.
My Uncle Pete had been in the industry for 4 decades, and although he was retired he was still a wellspring of valuable information. Uncle Pete told me that my job as a helper was to listen and learn. I was getting paid for the job of course, but it was also free training for the rest of my career. Many HVAC techs start out as helpers in the industry, this is the way it has always been because of the complexity of the work. Uncle Pete called some of his old friends in the local HVAC community and landed me a starting position as a helper to a certified tech. I did my best to follow the advice of my uncle, and paid close attention to everything the certified HVAC tech did and said. I even brought a notebook to jot things down. At the end of the work week I would go hang out with Uncle Pete, who would roll a few joints and discuss heating and cooling details with me. Even while completely stoned on high octane cannabis, Uncle Pete knew more about the industry than my certified HVAC tech did. Between the two of them I learned an incredible amount about heating and cooling repair over the course of a few months. Pretty soon I think I’ll be ready to go for an HVAC certification myself.