Heating and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians are currently in high demand. Since millions of people rely on heating and air conditioning units in their homes, choosing a career as an HVAC technician can prove to provide many long-term benefits. Additionally, commercial and industrial buildings use the services of HVAC technicians, as well as a subset of technicians who specialize in refrigeration, to handle their heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems; including those used to transport and store food, medicine, and other perishables.
HVAC technicians typically study the mechanical, electrical and electronic components of systems used for heating, refrigeration and air conditioning. They then apply their education and experience to maintain, diagnose, and correct any problems with these types of systems. They may also adjust the system controls to the recommended settings, test system performance, and install and repair systems.
After taking the HVAC classes required for certification, a technician will typically follow blueprints or other instructions to install gas, electric, oil, or other fuel heating systems, as well as air conditioning units. Once they place the equipment in the proper place, they install the fuel and/or water supply lines, vents, pumps, air ducts, and any other components needed to run the system. Additionally, they may be required to connect electrical wiring and check the unit to ensure that it is operating properly.
When installing a furnace or air conditioning unit, an HVAC technician may perform routine maintenance and repairs to ensure that the unit operates effectively and efficiently. HVAC technicians also install heat pumps, which are very similar to air-conditioners, but can be reversed and used as both a heating and cooling unit. Heat pumps typically require more maintenance than traditional furnaces and AC units because they are used year round.
In order to begin working in the field, one must take the appropriate HVAC courses to prepare for testing and certification. While there are numerous HVAC programs to choose from, many people opt to take their HVAC training online. Online courses provide the information needed to learn about heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technology that is crucial for certification and employment. Once students complete their HVAC courses (regardless of if they are studying online or at an accredited college or university) they should be able to identify the functions of the basic components of HVAC systems.
Course topics for HVAC studies may include heat laws, oils, and refrigeration cycles of both residential and commercial systems and refrigerants. Students will also learn how to design, assemble and operate working refrigeration systems as well as wiring, brazing, charging, and evacuating a system. Depending on the school or online institution chosen for studies, classes and instruction may include electromechanical systems, equipment selection and duct design, energy alternatives, residential heating systems, blueprint reading, plumbing systems, workplace skills and sheet metal fabrication.
Many states and localities require that HVAC technicians be licensed. Requirements for licensure may vary by location, but most include passing an exam. Many locations require that HVAC technicians have extensive knowledge of all electrical codes. They may also require the completion of a two to five year apprenticeship.