If you’re wondering what an HVAC program is like, you may be asking yourself two questions: Is HVAC training something I am capable of completing? Will I enjoy it, or find it boring?
Lucky for you, we have answers! 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 comes in multiple flavors, but the most tempting is the certificate training programs, offered at technical schools like National Technical Institute and RSI. These programs have you career-ready as an HVAC or HVAC/r technician in as few as 6 months. Follow this path if you want to get to work and make money as soon as possible—the 2019 average HVAC pay was $51,420 (bls.gov).
Another good option is an associate degree. Though you’ll train for a lot longer than in a certificate-based program, you’ll get to cover additional non-HVAC material. That will take you about 2 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.
The preference is yours; employers will gladly hire a well-trained applicant from either program. Whether you learned through a certificate or an associate degree program isn’t important to many employers.
Prerequisites To HVAC Training
Most HVAC schools require you to be 18 or older—if you’re ambitious but younger, some training programs will welcome you in with adult consent or under special circumstances.
You’ll need to have received your high school diploma or GED. Some schools may ask for various 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. But don’t worry, if you know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, you’ve got this.
Your HVAC program will do more than teach you a couple of fix-it tricks. In fact, 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 the like.
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 things to be instructed on before you start using them daily in 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. If you like detective work, you’ll love this. You’ll learn to install equipment, and you’re going to feel pretty great about it. 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. Pay close attention—that could be a potential future employer!
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 pants, work boots, and a shirt you don’t mind getting dirty!
You’ll also need a textbook and lab workbook—Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Technology in a current edition is commonly used. As with that cost and all other books and tools, whether or not those fees are included as part of your tuition will depend on the school.
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 | What We Like
We hope this information has brought you a bit of peace about school. Yes, HVAC training is totally within your capabilities. It can also be very appealing if you’re interested in using your brain AND body on the job!
After as few as 6 months of training, you can be ready to help people on the daily with your HVAC skills.
Find your local HVAC trade school now.