The need for heating, venting, and air conditioning professionals, commonly known as HVAC, has never faltered. Well-trained HVAC professionals and graduates are skilled with the basic knowledge of system components, tools, brazing and soldering, and more. This includes the installation and troubleshooting of valves, compressors, water chillers, thermostats, heat pumps, connection switches and controls. Effective HVAC technicians are also trained to adjust refrigerant levels as well as work safely with gas, oil, and electric heat. Among the various trades, the fastest growing branch is HVAC.
It is expected to increase by 31.8% through 2012. This includes job opportunities that include working for and as building contractors, residential maintenance and service companies, plumbing supply and hardware shops, and, of course, self-employment.
Because of the complexity of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems, employers opt to hire those who have completed technical school training or a formal apprenticeship. Some mechanics and installers, however, still learn the trade informally on the job. A number of high schools, colleges and junior colleges, and even Armed Forces branches offer programs that educate prospective HVAC students. This training includes the study of temperature control, equipment construction, and electronics, as well as the basics of installation, maintenance, and repair. There are three certified agencies that set HVAC academic standards: HVAC Excellence, National Center for Construction Education and Research, and Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation.
Upon completion of the academic portion of the training, students typically spend another two and a half years in the field. Apprenticeships are still very popular and practical means to gain valuable HVAC certification and training. Apprenticeship programs are often managed by local chapters of the ACCA (Air-Conditioning Contractors of America), the MCAA (Mechanical Contractors Association of America), and the PHCC (Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors). Formal apprenticeships typically span three to five years and involve on-the-job training along with classroom instruction. The subjects of study include the use and care of tools and blueprints, and the theories at work with regards to heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration.
Students and future apprenticeships must have a high school diploma or GED. And it should be noted that aptitudes in math and reading comprehension are necessary for successful HVAC careers. Once an apprenticeship is properly completed, the apprentice graduates to "skilled tradesman" status and is legally allowed to work alone to start his or her own company.
It should be noted that some apprenticeships can qualify a student for some college credits.
If you are interested in learning how to become a HVAC specialist, try starting with an Ashworth Degree.