Careers in the skilled trades provide many with hands-on work in a field that is in demand across the United States. Fortunately, those looking to start a career as an HVACR technician can learn the trade in less time than it would take to graduate from a 4-year university.
Where to Find HVACR Technician Training
People can get HVACR training from a number of resources. The most common are community colleges, HVAC union apprenticeships, and HVAC vocational schools. Community colleges generally offer both degree and certificate programs, lasting either 4 or 2 semesters, respectively. While they are a good stepping stone into more advanced academic programs, community college HVAC programs may lack the specialized facilities and professional training of vocational schools. Training may also be more lecture-oriented than lab-oriented, and priority for class sign-ups goes to upperclassmen, making it difficult for new entrants to enroll in all the classes they need to.
Union apprenticeships are 5-year training programs that include hundreds of hours of classroom time and thousands of hours of practical application training. Programs are comprehensive, but lengthy, and the barrier to entry is high. Not many training slots open at a time, so many qualified applicants are wait-listed instead of given the career training they need.
HVACR vocational programs have little barrier to entry, often requiring only a high school diploma/GED. Students follow a tracked program, so there is no competition to get into critical classes. Programs emphasize specialized training, practical application, and minimal time from start to completion to move students into the workplace as soon as possible.
HVACR Skills & Theories
HVACR technicians need to know principles and skills related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, refrigeration, electrical wiring, and green building. In addition to systems knowledge and troubleshooting skills, technicians also need to know HVAC-related codes, safety standards, and customer service skills.
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HVACR Technician Certification
The EPA requires any professional who opens a system containing a refrigerant to have Section 608 Certification. There are 4 types of certification: Type I, Type II, Type III, and Universal. Type I is required for HVAC technicians who service small appliances, such as vending machines and window air conditioners. Type II is required for technicians who service and dispose of high pressure refrigerant, such as residential AC and heating units as well as commercial refrigeration systems. Type III is required for technicians who service and dispose of low-pressure refrigerant, often used in chiller units. Universal HVAC certification is required for technicians who service all types of equipment and appliances. The test for Universal certification contains questions relating to the other 3 types of HVAC certification.
For more information about training to become an HVACR technician or to enroll in an HVACR training program, contact an RSI Admissions Representative.