What Is HVAC?
And How Do I Get Trained?
HVAC are the systems in homes and buildings across the country, and most of the world, that heat, cool and ventiliate the air. In addition to heating, A/C and ventilation, HVAC covers refrigeration services as well. HVAC training prepares technicians to be well rounded and able to install and repair a variety of important features of a new home or building.
The four available methods for training in this field are:
- Technical/Vocational School
- Community College
- Apprenticeship/On-the-job training
- Online Learning
They are listed in that preference as well.
Technical/Vocational school is probably the best route. The training is highly focused on the skills and techniques you will need in order to be a successful technician in this field. The tuition is usually cheaper than that of a community college. The training period is a lot shorter, usually about 6 months long. Graduates come out of technical school with a diploma that represents their ability in this field. Most employers prefer tech school graduates. Do a seach on Google or Bing for "HVAC training school" + your zip code to find schools in your area.
Community colleges are good for those who want to complete some of their college coursework while working on training in this field. Community colleges still provide excellent hands-on training for their student, but the course work isn't as focused on the training as it is with technical or vocational school. The reason is that most colleges will want you to complete courses in English, Math and Science before they will award you an Associates degree or certificate. Tuition isn't bad but with the extra courses not focused on HVAC training and the cost of books, community colleges tend to be more expensive. Finally, course completion takes about 2 years on average.
Apprenticeships can be ideal for someone who needs work right away and wants to complete their training on the job. The problem with these programs is they can take as long as 5 years to complete. Plus, usually when you're in the apprenticeship program you will earn less money than technicians who completed training. These programs are harder to come by as employers need qualified technicians versus untrained personnel. This program may be the most expensive. You may not spend any money during the training, but when thinking about the lower wages over the longer period of time you may end up losing thousands.
Online learning isn't recommended at all for beginners, but is available. The issue with online learning in this field is that the installation and repair of HVAC systems is almost entirely hands-on, and its hard to get good training in this field via an internet connection. This is ideal for someone who has previous experience in repairing A/C or heating systems and just need a certification to demonstrate their abilities. This is also great for those who have been in the field for several years and want to try and get promoted to advance their careers.
Recommended Action: Go to technical school. Talk to their financial aid counselors if you feel that tuition costs would be a problem. Think of it like this, you are making an investment into your future. Taking loans to pay for training in a skilled trade in a growing field isn't a bad investment. If the lack of work concerns you then look into part-time work during non-school hours.
Remember, you're looking for a career, not a job. Good luck!