It’s safe to say that HVAC systems and the technicians who work on and install them – have made the world a much more comfortable place. After all, in the blazing heat of summer, can you imagine a world without the cooling comfort of an air conditioner? It’s equally hard to imagine living without the warmth of central heat and air during a frosty winter. But what exactly does an HVAC technician do and is a career in the HVAC industry worth pursuing? To answer those questions, let’s start by exploring what an HVAC technician does on a routine basis.
What is HVAC?
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The system that heats, cools and controls the air quality and temperature in buildings. The HVAC industry also includes the refrigeration systems that keep perishables and things like vaccines and other medical supplies – fresh and safe.
Types of HVAC Systems and Certifications
The type of HVAC system being used in a particular building or home can vary. And depending on what type of system it is, you’ll need the proper EPA Certification to work on that system. These certifications are obtained through NATE, or North American Technician Excellence; the non-profit organization made of industry experts who administer the tests for HVAC certifications. There are 3 different EPA levels of certification in the HVAC industry:
1. Type I EPA Certification
This certification covers the repair and maintenance of small HVAC appliances. This would include things like window A/C units and residential refrigerators and freezers.
2. Type II EPA Certification
This level is for larger appliances that operate at high pressure. It would include things like outdoor A/C units and commercial refrigerators.
3. Type III EPA Certification
Low-pressure systems that do not fit under the small appliance category are covered by this certification.
If you obtain all 3 certifications, you are considered – universally certified and can work on – all of the systems above.
What Do HVAC Technicians Do?
You can expect the typical duties of an HVAC technician to fall into four categories – installation, maintenance, repair, and ductwork. The tasks required for each differ but could include some, or all the activities below.
- Review blueprints or specifications
- Install, connect or adjust thermostats, humidistats, or timers
- Replacing or repairing faulty equipment
- Test pipes, tubing joints or connections for leaks
- Test electrical circuits or components
- Perform routine maintenance by changing filters, cleaning ducts, or refilling refrigerants
- Connect HVAC equipment to fuel, water, or refrigerant sources
- Adjust system controls to balance system
- Assemble and mount HVAC equipment
- Lay out, design, and install low voltage electrical wiring
- Document deficiencies and other occurrences on work orders
There’s no question that HVAC technicians play an important role in just about everyone’s daily lives by keeping our indoor air comfortable and safe. That makes it a very rewarding profession to be a part of. But there are a few other great reasons to pursue a career in the HVAC industry. Not to mention that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is predicted to add more than 15,000 jobs by 2029. Combine all that with the fact that you get to interact with people from all walks of life, so you’re not likely to find your job boring in the least – and it sound like a pretty great way to earn a living.
How Do You Become an HVAC Technician?
An easy way to become an HVAC technician is to attend a program at a vocational school. You can train to become an HVAC technician in months, rather than years. This only briefly keeps you out of the job market and returns you back to earning in less time than a 2-year or 4-year college. Vocational schools even offer flexible schedules with day and evening schedules so you can keep that job to pay the bills or take care of a family member.
What are the Benefits of Attending a Vocational School?
In addition to the quick start that you will get by attending a vocational school, rather than a 2-year or 4-year college, you will enjoy guidance from industry experienced instructors. These instructions have experience in their given vocation and know what you need to succeed in your new craft. They offer one-on-one attention, so no one is left behind.
Small class sizes mean you get direct contact and instruction from faculty rather than sit in a large lecture hall and become a number rather than a name. Small classes also allow you to get to know your classmates and network with them throughout your career. You never know when you will need help filling a job gap or find an opportunity to advance in your career.
The best benefit of attending a vocational school is the career services that they offer. From resume building, mock interviews, thank you email writing and job fairs, and everything in between, you get expert advice to prepare you for the job hunt. Career services also has strong ties with the community and may even hear about an opportunity even before the general public. Employers know that vocational school graduates are well informed and ready to hit the ground running.
If you’d like to learn more about a career in the HVAC industry, check out the HVAC/R Technology or Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Residential Program at ICT. ICT is helping students get the hands-on training and skills they need to become certified HVAC technicians. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a campus tour.