HVAC training from an accredited school is mandatory for anyone who wants to work in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. There are three primary sources of HVAC training: community or technical colleges, apprenticeship programs or vendor specific training. HVAC systems are found in the residential and commercial building sectors and are used to circulate air and provide a comfortable temperature. There is a huge variety in the types of systems used, depending on the environment, space and building type.
HVAC training provided by community or technical colleges can be divided into two types: technician and mechanic. An HVAC technician program is one to two years in length, and a mechanic program is three to four years long. The primary difference between the two programs is the depth of technical expertise acquired.
Admission into a community college HVAC training program is based on a combination of high school courses, a personal interview and admissions tests. An increasing number of schools require applicants to complete English and technical math examinations as part of the admissions process. Students who achieve a low mark might be required to complete bridging courses as a condition of admission.
Another way to complete HVAC training is through an apprenticeship program. Arranged through the local HVAC trade association or trade school, the applicant must complete a specific number of hours of work in an HVAC business, under the supervision of a master HVAC mechanic. He or she is responsible for providing the apprentice with on-the-job training and a paid position. In addition to work experience, there are a specific number of required courses that can be completed throughout the period of the apprenticeship.
HVAC mechanics are in high demand, and competition to secure an apprenticeship position is quite intense. Take the time to talk with HVAC mechanics and program administrators to learn more about what skills or experiences would be relevant to potential employers. An apprentice program is usually five to seven years in length, but it provides full-time, paid employment throughout that period.
HVAC equipment is extremely complex, and many vendors provide HVAC training programs to certified HVAC mechanics and technicians. These courses usually last one to three days, and they often are arranged by the local HVAC trade association. This type of specialized training is very beneficial to both the vendor and the mechanic, and many are offered for free. This is especially true if the company is trying to expand its market share in a particular area, because it can be a great way to increase sales.