It’s hard to imagine surviving Virginia’s hot, humid summers and chilly winters without a good HVAC system, as people did decades ago. Fortunately, most homes and businesses in this state come equipped with well-designed HVAC systems, so that Virginians can go about their business at home, school or work without giving too much thought to the elements while indoors.
HVAC systems are designed to work tough, and generally last for many years. Nevertheless, they do require maintenance and the occasional repair. That means there’s always a demand for well-trained HVAC technicians to work on the systems, as well as to install them, whether residential or commercial. Some of the equipment an HVAC tech might repair or install:
- Central Air Conditioner
- Ventilation System
- Heat Pump
- Ductless Mini Split
- Refrigeration System
- Radiant Heating
- Solar Heating Systems
- Geothermal Systems
This is just a sampling of the vast array of HVAC equipment available, and more appearing is appearing all the time as the industry evolves to meet the demands of a warming climate and the need for greater efficiency. HVAC techs entering the work force may conceivably become specialists instead of generalists, concentrating on one type of equipment rather than all kinds.
The Need for HVAC Techs in Virginia
In Virginia, we also have a huge military and maritime presence which requires an army of expert HVAC technicians to service military bases and businesses that serve them. Likewise with the maritime and container shipping industry. All those offices and workshops in shipyards need reliable air conditioning and heating, guaranteeing that the demand for HVAC techs runs high for years to come.
So if you’re looking for a job where you’re likely to be in demand for a while, HVAC is one that generally offers steady, year-round employment in our region.
Getting Started in HVAC
You don’t need much more than a high school diploma or GED to get started in HVAC. It does help if you also have these qualities:
- An aptitude for mechanical and electronic equipment.
- The ability to lift more than 100 pounds, as HVAC equipment can be heavy. You will need strength to operate tools and move equipment.
- Stamina, due to sometimes challenging working conditions in heat, high humidity, or outdoors in inclement weather.
- Good math skills.
- Clean driving record.
Beyond the above, you’ll need some kind of training, be it as an apprentice with a company or through a course of study in a vocational school or community college.
Getting Educated in HVAC
The traditional way to learn a trade such as HVAC has always been as an apprentice. You get some company to give you a try, and you travel to the jobs with a master, certified HVAC technician and learn the ropes. Training might also include certification courses for working on a specific brand of HVAC system. Apprentices typically learn the basics of heating, refrigeration, plumbing, pipefitting, and electrical work.
Apprentices may also seek to work in an allied field for a union, such as sheet metal, plumbers, or pipefitting as a way of learning the trade.
This type of on-the-job training works pretty well for someone who likes working by doing rather than sitting in a classroom.
Nevertheless, these days, there’s a lot more to learn in the HVAC industry than ever before. As HVAC equipment has grown more sophisticated with computerization, mastering the basics has become more challenging. And now with the advent of the smart technology era, HVAC techs must master a whole new level of knowledge.
What is it Like to go to College for HVAC?
By enrolling in a course of study at a vocational school, you should have instructors with solid, practical experience in the field with broad experience with many types of equipment. They should also be able to teach you about the evolution of more efficient equipment that is appearing in the market today.
Your program should have access to a state-of-the-art lab where you can learn hands-on, getting the practice you need to become adept at repairs, maintenance, and installation.
A vocational course won’t teach you everything you’ll ever need to know, but the right course will give you the foundation you need to build on as you work through your apprenticeship.
In fact, there’s nothing preventing you from enrolling in a trade school HVAC program while you’re working as an apprentice, so you can steep yourself in both types of training. If you apply yourself, you’ll likely find you’re on your way faster to becoming a certified HVAC technician after just a couple of years.
Do you think a career as an HVAC tech might be right for you? Connect with Advanced Technology Institute today for more information about the Associate in Occupational Science HVAC Technology with Service Management program.