What is Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology?
Individuals working in the field of heating, ventilation and air conditioning, also known as HVAC, are responsible for the installment and maintenance of systems used to maintain varying temperatures in a given structure. Such structures may include homes, office buildings, warehouses, or any other building that requires one or all of the above mentioned systems. Individuals trained in this field will be able to fully and competently implement these systems, ensure their functionality, maintain them annually and properly train customers in the proper use and care of the system. In case of malfunction technicians will also be required to conduct repairs.
A degree in HVAC demonstrates that an individual is prepared to install, maintain and repair those systems in a home or office setting. Most individuals will pursue a degree or certificate/diploma through a vocational school or community college, which will take between 6 months and 2 years depending on the program. Sponsored apprenticeships are also available, and individuals will be considered skilled laborers once the apprenticeship is completed.
Programs in heating and air conditioning will combine classroom courses with practical experience, allowing students be exposed to the various systems they will have to work with and how to diagnose and repair problems within those systems. Additionally, students will learn how to read blueprints and diagrams in order to identify electrical systems and other features within the building they will be installing such systems in. graduates of such programs will have a strong understanding of heating and air conditioning systems and will be ready to enter the workforce at entry level positions.
An HVAC curriculum may include:
- Trade Math
- Piping and Ductwork
- Systems Design
- Control and Energy Management Systems
- Applied Physics
Employment Certification and Licensure
Individuals may work with professional firms, individual contractors, repair companies or form their own business. Individuals may also pursue an apprenticeship in order to obtain work experience prior to pursuing a career or opening their own business. The work involved in HVAC is labor intensive, and the equipment installed requires regular maintenance. Due to this, it is important that an individual maintain a healthy relationship with his or her clients in order to annual maintenance and repeat business.
Salary, Job Growth and Related Fields
The average salary of an HVAC technician is $39,500 per year, with the lowest 10% earning less than $25,400 per year. Increases in salary are based on experience and location, with areas with a larger population having more work available, a higher demand for installation and repair, and a higher tolerance for competition.
HVAC jobs are expected to grow much faster than average. Individuals interested in a career in HVAC should work well with others, be patient with clients, have a solid math foundation, able to lift heavy objects, and capable of reading and following schematics. Some states may require licensing in order to work, and the requirements will vary between those states, though some amount of work experience and a state issued test are usually required. Additionally, individuals who pursue certification from a national certifying body, particularly those who familiarize themselves with computer systems, will find more job opportunities than those who do not.
Individuals interested in entering an HVAC program may also consider a program in plumbing, electrician, refrigeration.
For additional information, check out The Complete Guide to an HVAC Career on our blog here.