If you’re wondering what an HVAC program is like, you may be asking yourself if training is something you are capable of completing and if you will enjoy it.
In this article, we’ll examine typical HVAC training courses you’ll find at trade schools and community colleges. We’ll also cover program length, what you’ll learn, class formats, and more.
You might finish reading this article knowing HVAC is the right career for you — and in that case, we can help you find local training today.
How Long Are HVAC Training Programs?
HVAC training is often offered in shorter certificate training programs at technical schools like National Technical Institute and RSI. These programs can have you career-ready as an HVAC or HVAC/r technician in as few as six months. Follow this path if you want to get to work and enter the job force quickly — the 2021 average HVAC pay was $54,690 (bls.gov).
Another good option is an associate degree. Though you’ll train for longer than in a certificate-based program, you’ll get to cover additional information not related to HVAC like electives. Associate degrees often take about about two years to complete. Choose this route if you’d be more comfortable with extra time in the lab and classroom before you start your job search.
Regardless of which you choose, employers will gladly hire a well-trained applicant from either program.
Prerequisites to HVAC Training
Most HVAC schools require you to be 18 or older — if you’re ambitious but younger, some training programs will accept you with adult permission or under special circumstances.
You’ll need a high school diploma or GED. Some schools may ask for other information, like your ACT WorkKeys scores, or they may simply expect you to be able to read and write at a high school level. Basic math skills come into play, as well. You will be using those both in training and on the job.
HVAC training is designed to prepare you to understand the technology behind the industry and equipment. Both residential and commercial work will be covered.
Your core HVAC training topics may look nearly identical to these:
- Air Distribution
- Heat Pumps
You will also be introduced to the business elements of HVAC — finance, management, production, and more. Numerous schools will also help you develop your soft skills — communication, problem solving, leadership, and more.
Format of HVAC Training Classes
HVAC training programs usually start out in the classroom, where you’ll listen and learn from lectures, demonstrations, and bookwork. Your class sizes are small, so you’ll get the attention you need from the teachers. You may get to interact in groups, as well, where you can learn from each other. Expect to be in class for up to 8 hours a day, unless you are taking evening classes.
Several weeks in, your school will have you go through OSHA 10, a ten-hour training course before you can work in the lab. The industry uses electricity, chemicals, tools — all needing professional instruction before you can begin using them daily in your training.
As soon as you are safely prepared, you’ll begin working on lab equipment in real-life scenarios. You’ll be presented with faulty equipment and asked to troubleshoot. You’ll also learn to install equipment. You can expect to spend more than half your school time in this hands-on training.
While your instructors have been or are active in the HVAC industry themselves, you may take trips to local HVAC businesses. Here you can learn tips from the pros and see what a day in the life is like for a working technician.
HVAC Program Objectives
The point of any HVAC training program should be to prepare you for employment, meaning you have the industry knowledge to take on an entry-level position.
Just as important, by the time your course is complete, you should be ready to sit for the EPA 608 exam, a necessary requirement to handle refrigerants on the job.
Materials Needed for Class
For school, you’ll typically wear work clothing.
You’ll also need a textbook and lab workbook — Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Technology in a current edition is commonly used. The fees of all other books and tools may not be included as part of your school's tuition.
Other common HVAC program tools and equipment include:
- Personal protection like safety gloves and glasses
- Basic hand tools/power tools
- Specialized equipment (multimeter, refrigeration gauges, digital thermometer, etc.)
HVAC Training | In Conclusion
HVAC training is totally within your capabilities, especially if you already have a little background in construction. It can also be very appealing if you’re interested in using your hands and your mind in your daily work.
After as few as six months of training, you can be ready to help people on the daily with your HVAC skills.
Find your local HVAC trade school now.