Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) is such a widely used commodity that knowledgeable technicians are often in demand throughout the country. The HVAC industry is vast, containing an assortment of highly specialized areas. The training and education necessary for these positions, such as commercial heating and cooling installation, product design, system engineering, and controls for HVAC systems, vary greatly from position to position.
Residential HVAC Technician Job Description and Skills
Residential HVAC technicians are responsible for the installation and repair of heating and air quality control systems in homes. They may also service refrigeration systems, and even sell maintenance contracts to potential customers. Technicians will evaluate specifications and explain available products to clients prior to installation. Periodic checks may be conducted by these technicians after servicing has been completed where preventative maintenance, system troubleshooting, settings adjustments, and performance tests are implemented.
Installation of residential and commercial HVAC systems, as well as their maintenance and repair, require a collection of skills. Installers and technicians can acquire these skills through HVAC schools with certificate or degree programs tailored to HVAC or HVAC related fields, like electronics. A full curriculum may take as little as under a year to complete. To encourage workers to pursue proper education, some apprenticeships will substitute a portion of the time served for relevant certification. Even when newcomers to the field plan to continue training through apprenticeship programs, vocational training programs still give them a good foundation to keep building their skills and knowledge.
Learning from a Vocational Program
Career training programs involve traditional classroom education as well as on-the-job-training. Students are instructed on electrical and electronic components, the physics of airflow, reading blueprints, pipefitting, working with sheet metal, refrigerant treatment, and plumbing. Graduates of these programs are able to perform the duties of entry-level HVAC technicians and assist engineers in retrofitting and designing new or existing HVAC systems.
Many states require that HVAC techs earn a particular license before practicing. Three certification types exist: Type 1 qualifies techs to work with small appliances; Type 2 qualifies techs to handle highly pressurized refrigerants; and Type 3 emphasizes knowledge in low-pressure refrigerants. Successfully passing a cumulative exam is the final step toward attaining each.
Learning a technical skill requires much practice, so HVAC courses may be both challenging and time consuming. However, the work can also be highly gratifying for those who like to solve problems and work with their hands. Before starting a program, potential students should carefully examine their personal and career goals.