Anyone who has lived in Virginia for a year or so knows it’s hot and steamy in the summer and cold in the winter. Don’t even think of moving here and not ensuring that you have an adequate heating and cooling system in your residence
HVAC Industry: Busy Year-Round in Virginia
As you might expect, HVAC companies are pretty busy year-round in this area. In the summer, HVAC companies get calls for maintaining, repairing, and installing air conditioning equipment for residences and businesses, including central A/C, heat pumps, ductless mini splits, and chillers. During the winter, companies service and install boilers, furnaces, baseboard heating, heat pumps, and radiant heating for businesses and homeowners.
Technicians may also need to be competent to work on the ducts that distribute the air in the home or business, as well as ventilation and air cleaning systems. Some also install and maintain water heaters, both tankless and tank models.
Some companies may concentrate more on residential service, while others may be devoted solely to commercial clients, doing more extensive and complicated installations for large buildings. Some HVAC companies do both.
These days, technology is rapidly changing in the HVAC industry. In the past, HVAC technicians generally got some basic training in mechanical and electrical systems, while also learning about how air moves, heat transference, and the effect of humidity on cooling and heating. Now technicians must also be trained in digital controls and smart systems. These systems are key to the ever-greater efficiency the HVAC industry is delivering with newer equipment.
This emphasis on efficiency is already having an effect on how technicians are trained. The industry emphasis is on achieving greater comfort for less energy use. Homeowners and business owners expect to pay a higher price for the sophisticated HVAC systems the industry is offering, but they also want assurance that they can reduce energy use and their carbon footprint.
Installation of sensors helps homeowners and business owners regulate the temperature with more precision so that energy isn’t wasted in parts of the home or business where it isn’t needed. Fans are modulated so that they run at precise speeds to deliver just as much conditioned air as is called for.
This introduction of smart technology in HVAC equipment has been called a “revolution” by industry leaders, and by most is seen as an opportunity to boost efficiency. However, many in the industry have said installations are often poorly done, so that the homeowner or business owner doesn’t get the full advantage of the super-efficient technology that’s been purchased.
This appears to be one of the major challenges in the HVAC industry these days — of ensuring that those who perform installations are well trained, and use the most sophisticated tools to size equipment, HVAC capacity, and ductwork to the building, rather than using old methods such as calculating square footage to determine heating and cooling capacity.
Get Trained in HVAC
To become an HVAC technician, you should first have your high school diploma or your GED in hand. Then, you will need to find an HVAC training program at a school and enroll. It’s helpful if you’ve had some high school shop courses or some experience in plumbing, electrical work, or basic electronics.
Once you complete your training program, you will get a diploma or certificate for a one-year program, while an associate degree could take two years to complete. You might even want to go for a bachelor’s degree (generally four years in length) if you’re looking for some extra preparation in business management or perhaps even a more sophisticated level of training.
Your courses will include training in electronics, pipe brazing, sheet metal working, air movement, and digital controls. You may also get more specific training in working with air conditioner and heating systems, including furnaces, heats pumps, and central air conditioners. You should also get some training in occupational safety, and the laws that govern it.
If you’re inclined to want to move into a managerial position or possibly to one day own your own business, be sure you include some classes that expand your skill set, such as these:
- Communications (including technical writing)
- Business management
- Bookkeeping and accounting
Once you have your diploma, certificate, or degree, you might want to pursue an apprenticeship program, lasting three-five years. These apprenticeships may be offered by unions or contractor associations, with academic coursework and on-the-job training. An apprentice works with a professional to develop more specialized skills, which could enhance one’s chances of being hired once training is completed.
Are You Ready to Begin Training?
Are you ready to jump into the fast-paced and challenging HVAC industry? Contact Advanced Technology Institute and ask about the Associate in Occupational Science HVAC Technology with Service Management. Call today for more information.