Studies & Degrees in Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology
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Of all our many modern conveniences, perhaps the most convenient is the ability to control the temperature in a room. Climate control involves a number of complex systems, all of which must be carefully calibrated to the specifics of the room, vehicle, building, or compartment where they operate. Of course, there is always a need for skilled workers to maintain and repair heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems (typically referred to as HVAC or HVAC-R systems).
Traditionally, many HVAC technicians have learned their skills through apprenticeships and on-the-job training rather than formal education, but this is beginning to change. Technical and vocational schools now offer HVAC training programs that not only prepare students to work in the field, but also to move into management should they choose to do so later in their career.
- Passion for machines and desire to work closely with complex HVAC technology
- Good problem-solving skills and ability to think logically in a step-by-step fashion; clear, focused mindset
- Friendly, professional demeanor
- Mechanical hobbies such as automotive repair or home improvement
Although very few four-year colleges offer HVAC programs, they are becoming increasingly common in two-year technical schools and private training facilities. Some programs take as little as 6 months to complete, which is highly beneficial for those who hope to complete school and begin work as quickly as possible. It is worth doing some research, however, before choosing one of these short-term programs. Many are excellent and will provide high-quality instruction and valuable networking opportunities, but some others are diploma mills that seek only to take advantage of aspiring students. The diploma mills will not give you the kind of instruction that you need to succeed in this field. If you're uncertain whether the program you are researching is reliable, consider asking which accrediting bodies, if any, will vouch for the program’s quality. Most reputable programs are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). Any program not accredited by this body may be a scam.
Although two-year programs can seem time-consuming and sometimes expensive, there is an advantage to choosing the long-term track: these programs lead to an Associates Degree, while short-term programs do not. An Associates Degree is preferable to a certificate or nondegree diploma for 2 reasons, first because they can lead to more highly-paid managerial positions, and second because they often count for college credits, so a person with an Associates Degree has a head start on getting his or her Bachelors Degree.
It should come as no surprise that graduates from HVAC and HVAC-R programs almost invariably end up working as HVAC technicians. The vast majority travel to homes and workplaces to install, repair, or update existing units. A few others may work in sales or management, where their understanding of the technical aspects of heating and cooling systems helps them to do their work better. In their careers after graduation, HVAC technicians have fairly steady work, good job security and benefits, and of course the satisfaction of knowing that the work they do is greatly appreciated by others.