HVAC technicians typically get into this trade after receiving formal education at a post-secondary institution of higher learning or trade school. Each institution has its curriculum and degree or certificate options. While there are more advanced training options in HVAC engineering, design, and control systems, most enter these training programs to become technicians for installation, maintenance, and repair of the equipment associated with this trade.
Typical HVAC School Curriculum
Curriculums will vary from school to school however their courses will give the student knowledge in the following broad categories:
- Operation fundamentals
These broad areas will probably be further broken down by the type of system: heating, cooling, refrigeration, residential, and commercial.
In the area of troubleshooting, students are taught how to determine if there is a problem with equipment. Then, if it is determined there is a problem, students are taught how to select the appropriate action to take and how to implement it.
For a future technician, knowing how HVAC equipment operates is fundamental to being able how to install, repair, and maintain it. Classes are taught in the operation fundamentals of electrical components, refrigeration, heat pumps, and temperature control systems. Overall HVAC theory and its components are taught as well.
All HVAC equipment has manufacturer’s service requirements and students are taught how to perform them. For example, replacement of filters in home heating systems is crucial to optimum performance and occupant safety.
The HVAC trade requires the use of several types of equipment to perform diagnostic and testing operations. Equipment today is digital and highly complex with onboard processors and used in TAB operations. TAB stands for testing, adjusting, and balancing. The equipment used helps the technician ensure that systems are performing to specification and that overall climate in a building is balanced.
In the marketing and sales area, courses teach more than just selling products. Consider that sales representatives in HVAC are also systems analysts and must evaluate a building and recommend the best solution for their climate control system.
A sample training plan for an HVAC marketing and sales representative might include courses in areas like HVAC systems analysis, residential load calculations, duct design, and energy-efficient construction. Usually, those entering a training program for marketing and sales already have prior experience. However, if they don’t, they will also be required to learn the basics HVAC.
Special HVAC Training
For those wanting to get into HVAC control systems, this area deals with complex electronic and computer hardware that work together to achieve overall climate control. A student enters an associate degree program with several years of experience in HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance. Courses taught include logic, electronics, networking, signaling, and computer programming.
Then there is a higher level associated with HVAC systems but deals with the engineering and design aspect of this field. This is typically accomplished through a 4-year bachelor’s degree program and graduates get jobs as electrical or mechanical engineers. There are also 2-year associate’s degree programs in HVAC engineering and graduates get hired to assist engineers in the design of HVAC systems.
Online Option for HVAC Training
Online courses do exist for this trade and are a fraction of the cost of on-campus training. You can take courses in all aspects of the trade to include refrigeration, electronic controls, heating systems, tools, residential and commercial maintenance/installation, and troubleshooting. This list is not exhaustive. You can even be prepared to take the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) exam.
While online training is an option, consider that you may be shortchanging yourself since HVAC is a hands-on trade. Learning on a computer and actually using the tools are very different. This type of training may benefit you much more if you have been working as a helper on the job site and have some HVAC vocational training from high school.