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10 min read

SBA 299: BAS Technician

By Phil Zito on Nov 15, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Topics: Podcasts

In this episode we discuss the BAS Technician role.

  • What is a BAS Technician
  • What does a BAS Technician do?
  • What skills does a BAS Technician require?
  • How do you get hired as a BAS Technician?

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Phil Zito 0:00
This is the smart buildings Academy podcast with Phil Zito episode 299. Hey folks, Phil Zito here and welcome to episode 299 of the smart buildings Academy podcast. In this episode, we are going to be discussing how a BAS technician career path looks or what it looks like. So in the previous episode, we talked about how to establish a career in bas. Now we're going to be looking at the first kind of role in building automation, which is the BAS technician, we're going to talk through what the role is we're going to talk through the requirements for the role, we're going to talk about how to get the role, and then what a career path can look like. So as things go, Bas technician was the first role that I took when I left the military back in 2007, I came out, I really didn't know what I was doing. But I came in as a installing technician. And an installing technician, for those of you who don't know, really varies from job to job, and company to company. But essentially, you are either installing sensors and wiring up things yourself and connecting them to controllers. Or you're supporting a subcontractor who is overseeing and executing that wiring and what is affectionately known as, basically installation and potentially startup of a control system. So imagine this, right? You go to a job site, you go through safety training, you get lined out by your senior technician, or your project manager, and they say, Hey, you got all these vav boxes, I need you to go and make sure that you're reading the appropriate temperatures, that when we command the actuators, they actually go the correct direction, I need you to make sure that when we come in the fans on on these vav boxes, if they're fan powered, that they turn on that we get status, that's what you're doing as a BAS technician. Now, depending on the company, you may have the title bas technician, but you may be doing designer programmer, electrical balancing all sorts of different work. I found myself running around with a balancing hood and having to balance vav boxes and diffusers. Even though I wasn't a test and balanced person, but because the contractor that I worked for in the bid won the balancing. And so there I was doing test and balance even though I had no clue what I was doing. But you know, that's what the internet's for. And I know a lot of you frown when I say Google things, learn through the internet, I get a lot of pushback on that. But these same people who are pushing back quite often when I say that are the same ones who when they can't get a BACnet card from a rooftop unit to work, or they can't figure out how to get some sort of lawn interface to work. They're going to, you know, HVAC talk forums, or they're going to read it or they're going to Google themselves. So don't ever feel bad if you go and search for what are deemed low level or obvious skills. Because realize that the people who are giving you like crap about it and her Pooh poohing it and being, you know, can't learn through Google are doing the exact same thing, when it comes to complex topics. So just be aware of that I for those of you who are brand new technicians, I don't want you to think that you have to hit your head against a wall. To the point where you're like frustrated with your work. There's a reason why tech support exists at your OEMs you need to take advantage of that, you know, I

Phil Zito 4:02
knew all the tech support people and I would contact them I wouldn't sit there and bash my head against the wall repeatedly. You know, why would I do that when someone already has the answer and can teach me the answer. So but as a technician, your basic skills are typically going to be understanding basic electric circuits, basic electric terminology, electrical terminology, basic bas fundamentals. So the most of this, you'll learn on the job if you're not going through some form of formal training program. Because at the end of the day, you know, it's either a series or parallel circuit. You have contacts, you have resistive, you have voltage, you have amperage, you have transformers, you have controllers, you've got mounting, you've got point to point check out you've got a meter. And with those things that I just named out, that's pretty much the life of the technician. What I found actually to be one of the best skills for a technician is being able to read documentation. I think that's kind of what carried me when I left the military and went into my first technician role was that the military was really, really big on reading, tech pubs, technical publications, reading documentation, you had to figure a lot of things out through reading documentation. So if you really want to get good learning how to digest technical publications, you know, learning how to identify, what is the technical publication I need? How do I find it? How do I go to my OEMs? website? And OEM is original equipment manufacturer? That's the person who makes the controls that you're working on? How do I go to their website? How do I find the installation sheet or the installation guidelines? And then how do I interpret that and apply it to the current project I'm working on, because oftentimes in your submittal sets, so submittals are basically the design of the system, how the system should be implemented, how the system should be put out into the field and installed. So oftentimes, your submittal set is going to go and tell you, hey, you need to go install these relays or you need to install these thermostats or you need to wire up these contacts. But it's not going to give you the technical details, and being able to go to the technical publications and pull that information is going to be critical. So up to this point, right, we've seen kind of what the job looks like, you're going to be on construction projects, you're going to be under someone you're going to be going and executing either the installation or the point to point check out of the systems out in the field, you may be overseeing electrical subcontractors you may not be now what does this entail for you as far as the skills required a kind of went over that right understanding basic electrical knowledge, AC DC electrical theory, Ohms law, understanding circuits, understanding relays, understanding safety circuits, these are things that are very easy to learn, either through courses or I mean, honestly through YouTube.

Phil Zito 7:17
So that is one thing. The other is basic H fac, understanding, you know, basic things like airflow has to have a place to go, remember, airflow has to have a place to go. So if you have a damper that is shut on the back of an air handler, and a damper is basically a it's a louver. It's if you ever think of those blinds that you can pull in, they kind of fold down and they close and they block out the light. That's what a damper is, but it actually seals ductwork and keeps airflow from flowing through it. So if the dampers closed on the intake, well, then guess what that air is going to get from somewhere and so the fans gonna suck in the ductwork. Now, if the discharge dampers are shot, that air needs somewhere to go, it's going to blow out the ductwork so that air needs a place to go, right. So if you remember that, if you understand basic things like that, if you understand basic things like, hey, our flow needs a place to go. So your isolation valves, your valve should be open, if you're going to turn on pumps, and realizing that things that do heat exchange like chillers, or boilers, those need waterflow. Because otherwise, you're going to subcool or superheat, your water or whatever medium, you are actually transferring or absorbing heat from, you're going to affect that, and if you don't have flow, then you can't bring new water in, or whatever the medium is. So you start to understand these basic concepts. And then there's basic computer knowledge, you know, how do you turn on a computer? How do you set IP addresses? How do you work with a computer? These are things that quite honestly, if you are under 30 years old, the majority of you know how to work with computers, you grew up with computers. So this shouldn't be terribly difficult for you. It may be a couple new concepts, you know, how do I set an IP address? How do I check my IP address? How do I do things like ping, how do I trace out networks, stuff like that. But like I said, the really the biggest thing for you to learn is how to read technical publications, mechanical plans, technical publications, submittal sets, if you understand how to read those, you're going to find yourself in a very good place. Okay, so we're continuing along. So we've talked about kind of the skills. Now let's talk about how do you get into this role. This role, in my opinion, can be the most difficult role to get in or the easiest role to get in. It all depends on your approach. If you approach this from the traditional angle of going to a website applying for a job board You have no experience, you're going to find that it is very difficult to get into this role. It just is. Because you're going to get HR screened, they're going to say, Oh, you don't have the experience, and they're going to reject you before you even get to the hiring manager. So the recommendation I have for everyone, and quite honestly, right now we are in a unique situation where if you can breathe, most people will hire you, as long as you don't have a criminal record,

Phil Zito 10:29
then people will hire you. So the thing is, is okay, I want this job, I want to be a BAS technician, how do I get the job? First thing is, find out what office this job is out of. Next thing, once you find out what office this job is out of, you go on LinkedIn, and you find the manager for the operations group for that office. Next after that is you reach out to that manager via LinkedIn. So you should have a LinkedIn profile. I mean, if you want to be a professional and actually make money, then do what professionals do, which is have a LinkedIn profile with a professional picture with proper grammar. And reach out to the operations manager, bypass HR screening. Tell them why you're passionate. Tell them what you've done to learn and prepare for this role. And tell them why you would be a good hire. And I guarantee you still even though I've been giving the same advice, for years now years, people don't do it. Now the people who do do it, reach back out to me and say, Hey, Phil, I followed your advice. And I got hired. And I get that from people, I got this really cool one about this guy who recently became a citizen of the United States. He had been applying for citizenship and finally got it. And he followed the advice, went through our courses. I'm not trying to pitch you on our courses. But he did go through our courses. And then he followed the advice of how to reach out to a manager. He did that. And he got hired by a company for doing that. And he was so excited. He was like, I'm so excited to be here in the United States and have an opportunity to work on stuff I love. But even if you're, you know, a natural citizen of the United States, doesn't really matter. The thing is the steps still work, right? The steps are, hey, identify the branch office that has the job. Go and reach out to the manager who serves that branch office, tell them why you're passionate. Tell them what you've done to learn and study and tell them how you would contribute to the team. You do that you will stand out amongst applicants. And I guarantee you, you will get a job. Maybe not the first time but you will definitely within the first three tries I'm fairly certain that you will get a job as a BAS technician. Because that shows that you're proactive shows that you are a professional shows that you want to do this job you are able to learn and self starter everything I personally back when I was an ops manager would be looking for in people I'd be hiring because it's easy to train people. It is difficult to put motivation in people. discipline and motivation are very difficult to develop. People either have it or they don't. And unfortunately, the civilian world is not the military world. So I can't force you to be disciplined. I can't force you to be motivated. Yeah, I learned that the hard way. But I will tell you if you have discipline and motivation and you reach out and you demonstrate that people will hire you. Okay, so that is episode 299. As you can probably tell I took last week off just needed a break. And so this week, we'll be talking about the technician. And Wednesday we'll be talking about the designer role. And Friday, we'll be talking about the programmer role. Thanks so much for being here. I look forward to talking to you in the next episode, which I believe is gonna be episode 300. Man, that is crazy. I can't believe we're episode 300 Now, as always, everything we discuss can be found out podcasts on smart buildings Academy comm forward slash 299. Once again, that is podcasts at smart buildings academy.com forward slash 299 Do be aware of Black Friday sale is going to be coming up pay attention to that because that will be your chance to get the same rate that our corporate customers get for the courses. So significant discounts there. Additionally, pay attention to a couple things come down the pipe our workforce development solution, if you're not currently in the field, and you want to get trained and placed with a company, we can do that. And we actually have a mechanism now through an income sharing agreement where you do not have to pay for training until you get hired at a certain salary. So we've worked that out. That's going to be pretty cool. And there will be more information about that coming up. but you can always learn more by contacting us at podcast at smart buildings academy.com forward slash 299 Thanks a ton and take care

Phil Zito

Written by Phil Zito

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