Heating, ventilation and air conditioning, also known as HVAC, is the profession of installing, repairing, and maintaining residential and commercial heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems. These systems come in a number of different varieties and the field is fairly extensive in a general sense. Fairly in depth education and training is required to learn in depth how to service these systems. There are a number of different skills to learn and master before someone can start actively working in the field.
Likewise there are also a number of different educational paths for getting instruction in HVAC repair. However, HVAC instruction can be broken down into two main types: school programs and apprenticeship programs. This article will take a look at some of the main educational paths of HVAC training.
Education and training in HVAC can begin as early as high school. Some high school curricula have vocational programs in a number of different fields, and HVAC is one of them. These programs can get a high school student started on an educational path early so that they can begin to consider employment or further training options when they graduate from high school.
Community and junior colleges also offer HVAC programs. These programs can last from 6 months to 2 years and cover fairly extensively the entire field. They often have hands on type of courses along with classroom and theoretical instruction. This allows the student to get an in depth knowledge of the industry.
Schools that are dedicated solely to technical education are also a type that often offers courses in HVAC. These schools often have very good facilities which students can use to practice their technical job skills in a practical sense.
Often these programs allow students to choose one area of HVAC on which to concentrate. There are quite a variety of systems and technologies that have developed over the years in the industry, so it is usually good for a student to focus. While they may gain an overall instruction in this professional area, they might choose to specialize in something specific like heating systems installation, cooling system repair and maintenance, or general heat pump work.
Four Year Colleges
Though most collegiate programs in HVAC are Associates degree (i.e.2 year) programs, there are also 4 year Bachelor’s degree programs that are offered at colleges and universities. These programs go more in depth into the field and offer a considerable amount of theoretical background as well as practical job training.
Apprenticeship programs are ones in which the individual who is learning HVAC works closely with an experienced HVAC technician in order to learn the trade. This is often for a period of 3 to 5 years and may even be longer. This is a traditional method of learning trades that has been in existence for a long time. It tends to be quite effective in the student deals with a variety of HVAC situations and generally gets a sense of working in the field in a direct sense.
Often apprenticeship programs are combined with classroom instruction. They thus become structured educational courses that involve, as in the case of high school and college based HVAC. Many times these programs are administered by various professional organizations. These may offer classes of their own or interface with various schools to offer the classroom portion of the instruction. These professional organizations are discussed a bit more below.
The following are some professional/trade organizations that offer apprenticeship programs in HVAC, or are otherwise involved in the educational process: The Mechanical Contractors Association of America, the Air-Conditioning Contractors of America, The Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association, locals of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association or the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States, and the Canada National Association of Home Builders.
Again, these organizations often interface with educational institutions like community colleges to offer the classroom portion of the training. They oversee the process of the apprenticeships and outline a student’s general educational course.
The costs of HVAC training are comparable to those for other technical, vocational, or college programs. Depending on lengths of a program they can run from several thousand dollars to several tens of thousands. Financial aid is widely available to those who qualify. Thus costs are usually within the affordable range of students who are not at a high level of income when they start.
In selecting an HVAC school, look at a variety of options before deciding on one. Give serious consideration to whether you are interested in attending a college, going to a vocational school, or apprenticing. Also consider the area of HVAC repair you are interested in – heating, cooling, and refrigeration. There are a lot of options open to you, so put your best foot forward and find an HVAC career path you’ll enjoy.