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smcgrath67

The path to becoming an appliance tech...

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smcgrath67

Please advise if this is not the proper forum for this question.

I'm looking for some input or advice on the topic of entering this trade.  I am 50 and looking to retire from my law enforcement career in a little over a year from now.  I was recently inspired to research this trade after a bad experience with my local appliance repairman.  Nice guy, but he is what I have learned is called a parts changer.  Not only that, but he is one of the only service techs in town, and he said he is so busy that he doesn't even know where to turn.  So I realized that there is a need, and started to look into it.  Now, here I am at Master Samurai, and I have viewed dozens of the videos and I have taken the sample course...I'm interested!

The question:  Is there a course of action that someone could advise about how to proceed?  I will enroll in the Master Samurai course bundle after the holidays and get started with that.  I'm handy, but with no real experience with appliances.  I live in tourist town that has a permanent population of 10,000, plus all of the chain hotels and condo's that go with a tourist ski town.  There are no real appliance repair companies in town that I could train with, though I have been offered the opportunity to ride along with a tech for a local oil company that also sells/repairs appliances.  Beyond that and perhaps taking pro bono jobs for friends, I'm not sure what else?  Thoughts on other appliance schools that would complement Master Samurai? (I'm definitely taking the Samurai courses).  Uncle H's looks dated, and a hands-on course that I looked at online (Fred's) would be doable at some point, but not now.

Thank you for any input on these questions.

Sean.

 

 

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Need appliance parts? Call 877-803-7957 now!

john63

Hello Sean...first off...thanks for your service.

I've met countless law enforcement customers over the years...city/county/state and a few federal level men and a women that were both active and retired.

Most put in 20 years and then entered another field of work...often successfully. 

I think the on-the-job training with another tech offers the best type of training. If you can arrange that...it will accelerate your knowledge...in addition to the Samurai course. This would be similar to a rookie officer riding shotgun with an experienced pro...to get their feet wet.

Unlike most young techs starting out...you'll likely be in a good position to start this trade...since you'll have (I'm assuming) a pension. This allows a more relaxed mentality while learning at your own pace. 

 This forum is a great resourse as well. Use it often. I started in 1982...and did not have access to the wealth of knowledge/help offered here.

 

 

 

Edited by john63

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smcgrath67

Thanks John, and yes, it's the pension that will allow me to make a "soft entry".  My problem is that in my locale (White Mountains area, NH), there are precious few appliance repair companies.  I do have one offer to ride with a tech as I mentioned, so I'll take them up on that offer.  Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to getting started with the MST course.

Thank you!

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john63

You're in Samurai/Scott's neck of the woods (Lake Sunapee area). Beautiful surroundings.

I'm near the Philadelphia market.

Good luck:)

 

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Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Hi Sean, I can offer some perspective as a fellow Granite Stater whose service area is also a small tourist town. I got started in appliance repair without apprenticing with another company, and I didn't have the advantage of all of the tools that are available now online.

Grab your favorite beverage, sit back and relax while Ol' Samurai tells his origin story... I think it will help give you a little more insight into how you can get this thing going! 

25 years ago, I quit my engineering job designing ammonia refrigeration systems for large food plants to start my own business rebuilding absorption refrigeration cooling units -- the type used in RVs and hunting camps that can run on propane. From there, I got into repairing the other appliances in RVs, and it was a natural step to start repairing home appliances. Like most businesses in New Hampshire, the work is seasonal -- straight out busy during the summer (tourist season) with much more manageable work load during the other parts of the year. That seems to be the natural rhythm in these kind of markets. 

When I got into appliance repair and met some of my fellow techs in the local area, almost all of us were ex-military and learned schematic reading and troubleshooting skills in the military. It never occurred to any of us to even attempt to troubleshoot an electrical problem without the schematic. But things changed as time went on and what was unthinkable back then has become the norm today  

Many of the old-timers I knew back then retired, went on to other businesses, or moved out of state (usually to some place warmer). New guys started coming in who knew nothing about electric circuits, reading schematics, or even how to troubleshoot. They didn't even know what systematic troubleshooting was because they had never been taught that there even was such a thing.  But they could use tools and were good with their hands

During this time, I've also seen manufacturers dumb down their training in response to the eroding skill level among techs. So instead of teaching how the circuits are supposed to work (like they used to), the training emphasis is on disassembly. Today's techs understand disassembly and so feel like they "got their money's worth" from the time they spent in the training class. 

I started running online appliance repair communities in the late '90's, interacting with techs all over the country, and noticed that many techs confuse pattern recognition ("if this problem on this model, replace this part") for troubleshooting. While pattern recognition is definitely useful and is part of what makes an experienced tech faster, it is not troubleshooting. These guys were really good at fixing problems they had seen before but would get hopelessly lost and confused when the problem was something new, and they simply did not have the mental tools to be able to figure it out. So they would call tech line, and tech line would ask them what they had already checked on the schematic. The common answer was "what schematic?" And the tech line guy would then tell them where to put their meter probes to track down the missing voltage. Many of these guys are still doing it this way today. Some went on to hire other techs and would pass along their bad habits to their new hires. New hires then think this is the way it's done, and so the ignorance propagates through a culture of ignorance. 

Pattern recognition is useful, but the foundation upon which your pattern recognition database should be built is the fundamental skills that every tech should know: basic electricity, circuits, Ohm's Law, troubleshooting, and the technology common to all appliances (such as motors and motor controls) regardless of manufacturer or model. Once you understand these things, you see how similar all appliances are to each other-- electricity and technology work the same way in Germany and Korea as it does in the US. This is what inspired me to create the Fundamentals course. Training in the mental skills of our job is what's missing today, and so the founding mission of Master Samurai Tech was to bring these skills back to the trade. We're not introducing anything new or pointy-headed or academic -- we're bringing back the foundational skills that the average tech used to have.

We often get asked about hands-on training and disassembly. We don't teach that. The reason is that if you know how to use your hands and tools, you don't need to pay for training for these physical aspects of our job because you can get all that from the service manuals and/or youtube videos. In fact, Youtube is a good testament to what I'm saying. Look at most of the appliance repair Youtube videos out there and you'll see they're all about how to take something apart to replace a component. That's useful if you know with certainty that the component has failed, which you should have already determined from your troubleshooting (that can usually be accomplished with minimal disassembly). In my opinion, the appliance repair trade is "ate up" with hands-on training and what it desperately needs today is "brains-on" training. 

A good way to start out is to enroll in a course or course bundle at MST, as you are planning to do. After you enroll, request a free limited tech membership here at Appliantology. Then start doing repairs for free or cheap for friends and family or even on your own stuff. When you get stuck-- and you WILL get stuck-- come here to Appliantology and get help from your Brethren in the Craft by starting a new topic in the Appliance Repair Tech Forum (a tech-only forum). You'll get lots of good advice and pointers on solving the problem, and you'll be able to download the service manual. There are techs here who are Youtube hounds and will post all kinds of Youtube videos showing you disassembly.

Your first few jobs will be a bit of a freak out-- everyone starts out that way. There's a lot going on in a service call and its more than just the technical issues. For many techs, myself included, the customer relations part of the job was the hardest to learn. People are unpredictable and a job can quickly go sideways all because a customer was unreasonable, bullying, or psychotic. Not to mention some of the slice-of-life domiciles you'll walk into. 

When you graduate the Fundamentals course with certifiable scores, you can request an upgrade to as premium tech membership in the MST Alumnus program. You'll also have access to all the webinar recordings on demand, which go in depth on technology and troubleshooting topics. So you can get your training at MST and ongoing tech support here at Appliantology.  

I hope my story has helped you to see a little more clearly how you can begin your appliance repair journey. Team Samurai and the Appliantology Brethren make a great support crew!

 

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smcgrath67

Well thank you very much for taking the time in your response, sir!  Very much appreciated.  I suppose after looking over your material and taking the sample course, I probably already knew most of what I was asking...and just needed a little nudge.  And of course I'm pretty familiar with the "slice of life" part of it, being a patrol officer (Conway).  

Look for me to be a new student very soon, and I'm looking forward to it.

Thanks again,

Sean.

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Samurai Appliance Repair Man

As a market, Conway, NH, has a lot going for it! You have a bigger market than we do here in New London. Yes, there are the slice-of-lifers in Conway, but every market has those and, as a patrol officer, you’ll be  starting out with a big head start over most techs.

And you have a great summer and ski season market there. Conway and surrounding towns also have lots of ski chalets and second homes. Given what you described about your experience with a PCM and him being the only game in town, you’re essentially walking into an open market that is eagerly awaiting a competent tech. You should do very well there and earn a comfortable retirement income. 

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J5*
6 hours ago, Samurai Appliance Repair Man said:

For many techs, myself included, the customer relations part of the job was the hardest to learn. People are unpredictable and a job can quickly go sideways all because a customer was unreasonable, bullying, or psychotic. Not to mention some of the slice-of-life domiciles you'll walk into. 

Imho that’s the hardest part of the job 

fixing stuff is easy , dealing with whack jobs is the tough part

dealing with a tricky repair is tough , but at least it doesn’t answer back and generally isn’t bipolar either 

imho you need to spend a lot of time and effort dealing with people , it doesn’t matter if you are the best tech in the world or the smartest , if you can’t manage people you are going to have trouble And in a lot of cases the dealing with people can be the 95% of the job 

 

im fortunate that I’ve been out on the road as early as I could do , so have been dealing with people and repairs for a long time on a variety of different things , I have no problem changing jobs and equipment , learning new equipment and the main issues are how to pull things apart without breaking things , but your core dealing with people is always the one you need to nail and it will get you through despite your tech skills on a new product aren’t up to scratch , 

 

just like this old saying 

 

“If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”


― W.C. Fields

Edited by J5*

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Gags730

Smcgrath67,  Some advice…

Christianity has Jesus, the Appliance Technician has Appliantology

Look I would start with this site.  I can’t stress to you enough just how much is on this site.  They put a lot into this site, more than I have ever seen.  This guy is more organized and has his sh*t together, more than some manufactures, and that is no lie.  You need to start here, these are the guys in the field, these are the guys who see it and live it every day.  They are not the ones behind a desk telling you how it should work, these guys know how it works, and know how to fix it. 

There are 2 sides to an appliance repair, Mechanical and Electrical.  Learn how to read schematics so you know what is in line. The mechanical side is just experience and learning how they come apart, the electrical is probably harder for most, and I believe is truly more important.  Once you learn how to use a meter the easiest appliance to troubleshoot would probably be dryers.  If that guy delivers and installs them see if you can get your hands on a gas dryer and an electric dryer that someone is just throwing out but works.  You want the Old Whirlpools with the lint filter on top because you can troubleshoot almost everything from the back and console

You can buy some cheap parts like thermostats and actually bug some of the parts and have a buddy install them and  cut wires and you can troubleshoot right in your garage or basement just like a real service call.

I trained and help develop many classes on basic electricity 1&2 and Appliance Diagnosis 1&2  You wrap electrical tape all over in different spots of the wires on the dryer.  You have a friend cut a wire and tape it back up or put in a bugged part like a thermostat, thermal fuse or a switch.  You start off looking for one bad part, as you get better you can have more than one bad part and even a bad wire,  and then as a final, you have bad parts and a wire cut on the neutral side. The Neutral side..that throws a lot of guys off …  but if you know how to use a meter it is all the same to you. 

Start with the classes here see if it’s for you.  I caught the bug, 25 years later here I am.

That was a great post by samurai also

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smcgrath67

Great advice, thank you. I'm sold on Master Samurai and Appliantology,  and I'm looking forward to getting started with the courses. I've already got a broken dishwasher coming from a friend's house, and I'll put the word out for other appliances that may be on their way to the dump!

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Bintiwangu

Hey Sean welcome to this forum!

I'm still  sort of finding my way around on  this forum, though I've been involved on a couple other forums like heatinghelp.com and smokstak.com (antique engine repair)  for over 15 years or so.

I have been doing appliance repair for a couple of years, and taking courses from Master Samurai Tech for about a year in between actually taking calls.  I don't do Appliances only, but also do plumbing, air conditioning, and handyman projects,  so it sort of breaks me in slowly. There is probably a need for handyman stuff in your market also if you have any interest in that. I like Samurai's courses a lot- though having poor internet service makes video watching very frustrating at times.

First of all- you've gotta have a website. That's out people find you these days. (Though you may not want them to find you until you get your feet on the ground  running a few calls for friends and Neighbors)

And second of all, I agree with your assessment of uncle H''s course being dated. And I'm qualified to say that because I took his course first.  His course cost quite a bit more money than this if I remember right. The one thing it did do, was make me believe I could do it!  (very good marketing)

Part of making me confident, was the included notepad with videos and manuals.  Although in reality the "wizard tablet" is really not searchable  in any meaningful sense of the word. So it's extremely difficult to sort through a gazillion manuals to find what you're looking for. And of course the promise to have Uncle H right there on the phone if you need any backup is really not going to happen. A reasonably quick response consisting of a very brief text  will cure you of trying it too many times.

He also gave me advisory pricing for a service call, and a very abbreviated flat-rate guide. So I'm not complaining. Uncle H did get me started and  I've been making some money. I enjoyed his course books and his videos. If it were 1972 I think he'd be a good one to go with. As it is, I wish I had started with the Samurai first. (although maybe I needed that's simpler stuff to build my confidence- I dunno)

 I first  saw the Samurai online  about 12 years ago when I started Googling after a man who was retiring tried to sell me his appliance repair business.

I rode around with him for 3 days, and really liked him and the work. And he had a LOT of established customers.

But I thought $50,000 for a worn out van, a referral, and a garage load of perhaps obsolete parts was a little much considering: 1-  I did not know what I was doing.  and 2- All those customers might already have another repairman in mind for when he retired.

 And though I had a lot of mechanical experience I didn't want to jump in neck-deep in appliance repair  without some training.  But about the time I started looking into training,  our plumbing and radiant floor heating business would get busy and I kind of forgot about appliances until we moved to Mississippi.

 I kind of wish I would have got into this 35 years ago. But if I had, I probably wouldn't have accumulated some of the other useful skills that I have now.  So its all good. 

I wish you would have written this in October. I may have had the chance to sit down and visit with you face to face. My family and I made a quick trip  to Wyndham New Hampshire to pick up an eBay purchase and I remember going through Conway the morning we headed up the Kankamagus Highway!  I remember being impressed with the cleanliness and Landscaping of that Fine City. 

In regards to marketing, I think you have a somewhat unique position with your previous career in law enforcement.

You could bill yourself as the appliance cop, Appliance 911,  or something catchy like that with some good police related logo.  You should have a lot of trust and Good will from the beginning.

I saw a billboard for grass cutting one time for the "Yard Sheriff" and his slogan was, "Keeping lawn in order!"

 If I can be of any service please let me know. And thank you Samurai for the most interesting story of your journey!  I wish I had been able to meet you when I was in Wyndham. Your ammonia absorption refrigeratio stories made me think of the vintage  Crosley icy ball but I have at home. You're probably one of the relatively few guys who knows what that is. Kevin

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smcgrath67

Thanks Kevin, some really good points there.  I have considered some of the items you bring up, such as the website and starting slow with friends and family.  As I said, I'm sold on the MST courses and I'm planning to start right after the holidays when I know I can devote more time to it.  Funny that you were just in Conway recently; I forget how popular this town is sometimes.  But I do know that aside from the full and part-time residents, there are thousands of condos in Conway and the surrounding area. That just has to mean tens of thousands of appliances, and there is but one or two appliance repair guys in the area, one of which I know from experience is a parts changing monkey, as the Samurai calls them.  I like the business names you came up with too, I will definitely consider something like that!  

Thanks for taking your time to help me out.

Sean.

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Bintiwangu

You are welcome Sean. 

If you have any previous training at all in electronics it might surprise you how fast you can move through these courses. When I lived in Nebraska I did a lot of radiant floor heating.  (which I'm sure you guys know about in New Hampshire, but is almost non-existent here in Mississippi)

I learned to wire my own boiler controls out of necessity. Many very competent electricians did not want to do the low voltage stuff; and one big Omaha contractor fried my control for a modulating 3-way mixing valve because he hooked it up wrong.

I got a hold of some very good little books by a Honeywell trainer named Carol Fey.   They were very good and I had that foundation to help me when I started here.

One piece of advice I would give you about the course is: Go to the site orientation section and familiarize yourself with it. Also, learn how to ask questions you may have about things in your learning modules. 

 I did not do this. I was understanding the coursework for the most part and so I just plunged ahead. But I would have done better to stop and get clarification a few times if I had understood how to do it. (It's kind of hard for me to get used to the idea that spending just a little more Web time on my phone truly IS a responsible use of my time!)

 For me, the customer relations seemed to be the easiest part, because I was comfortable with being in and out of people's homes doing plumbing and other things for years. 

I'm sure with your previous law enforcement experience that will be the same for you, and probably a lot easier. People will be much happier to see you arrive when you're there to fix their washing machine- than they would be if you are knocking on the door to tell them to turn the music down, or to quit beating their wife.

One warning though- if you don't like Chuck Norris jokes this may not be the course for you.  I really appreciated them a lot during the quizzes!

 I'm just now going back and watching some webinars to solidify some things I learned. ( somehow I didn't even know where they were previously)

Please let us know how you're doing! Kevin

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smcgrath67

Great advice, thanks again Kevin.  I've been exploring the site quite a bit and I'm getting familiar with it; I'll take your points to heart for sure.  So I did enroll just today in the the MST course bundle.  Very much looking forward to diving in!

Sean.

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Mrs. Samurai

Hi Sean - thanks so much for enrolling! I'll be one of the folks communicating with you as you go through the courses.

@Bintiwangu, thanks for giving so many good tips on training at the MST Academy. Yes - taking your time and getting help as needed is important for longer-term retention of the material. It's also great to go back and review lessons/videos later, after some time has passed. We pack a lot into those courses- you won't remember it all from just one time through.

We have some short Site Help Videos that are helpful, in case you haven't seen them yet. I'll imbed the first one here, which is a great overview of how our online courses work. But there are a few others that are worth watching as well to help you get the most out of your enrollment. You can see all the videos on this page: https://mastersamuraitech.com/site-help-videos/

Cheers!

 

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Bintiwangu

You're welcome. Thank YOU so much Mrs. Samurai. I really appreciate it.  I've been watching some of these with my young sons and they really enjoy them too.  The Samurai throws enough zaniness in there that it keeps their attention.  I was also going to tell Sean that one of the things I learned after quite a while was that you could speed up the video playback to get through them a little quicker when reviewing or if pressed for time.

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dave2543

Hi Sean, I am no where near where these guys are in Home Appliances, as most of my 35 years with Sears/AE was in Lawn and Garden and Garage Door Openers and Water Systems. 

But I did spend about 5 years as the Safety Guy for several different districts throughout the West.  In regards to repairs inside Seasonally or Partially occupied dwellings, make SUPER sure that all connections and repairs are correct, tugged on, and rechecked BEFORE even filling to test the appliance.  Also check the supply and drain plumbing for any obvious defects, so you don't get burned on a leak caused by something that you didn't work on.  it is important because a leak when the place is uninhabited could sit for weeks or months and really cause damage.

Or, you can get blamed for things you had no cause or contribution to.  The classic is a customer with a marginal drain standpipe and ethics to match.

They file a leak claim against you after you leave, based on saying you didn't secure the drain hose to the standpipe, and it flooded onto the floor.  When in reality the drain backed up, causing the same problem.  A self made leak checklist, and cell phone photo to show you secured the drain hose with a zip tie before leaving will pretty much shut that grifter trick down.

 

 

Enjoy your new career, the world needs more folks who can fix things, and care about how well they do it!!

 

 

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dave2543

Here is a sample of a unpolished  leak checklist, sorry I cant find the finished copy 

 

leak checklist as a picture.jpg

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Fillcorp

If you can get your hands on appliances that are being replaced/thrown away etc. it will give you a pressure free environment to become comfortable with disassembly. You will find there are only a few designs that are the majority of what you will see. 

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Ghashaan

I'm not a professional apprentice repair technician yet. But I wanna become one as soon as I can. I have watched a lot of videos and read several articles from Appliantology site. Is there any way that I can become a premium member of this site? I'm not ready to do the Fundamentals course because of financial reasons. 

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