Students interested in becoming a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technician may opt to enroll in either a diploma or certificate program. Either program may take several months to complete and may provide students with a solid foundation in HVAC basics. Students may also learn how to recognize and utilize the tools, equipment, and materials needed to perform maintenance on HVAC systems. Popular HVAC courses may include the following:
- Refrigeration Systems
- Fundamentals of HVAC
- HVAC System Design and Installation
- Ductwork and Piping Systems
- Facilities Management
Individuals who wish to become HVAC mechanics and installers may gain on-the-job training through apprenticeships or by working alongside experienced technicians. They may assist with basic tasks, including cleaning furnaces and installing refrigerant lines. Apprenticeships are common and individuals may obtain on-the-job training with technical instruction. During the time of the apprenticeship, students may learn about safety practices, blueprint reading, and tool usage. The National Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors or Air-Conditioning Contractors of America may recognize these programs.
License & Certification
HVAC technicians may complete several tests to measure their skills different levels of experience. Technicians may qualify for three separate certifications, depending upon the types of HVAC systems they work on, as well as a universal certification, where they may operate various HVAC systems, refrigerants, and units. Most HVAC technicians also have the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 8 Certification, which allows them to work with a refrigerant without negatively affecting the environment. In addition, some states require that HVAC technicians have licensure, although the specific licensure requirements vary by state.
Job Outlook & Salary
Upon graduation, students may find HVAC careers working in residential homes, office buildings, hospitals, stores, and factories where they install or repair systems. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for HVAC mechanics and installers are expected to increase by 34% from 2010-2020. In addition, the BLS reported that the median annual salary was $42,530 as of May 2010.