Thinking about entering HVAC as a career? That could be a smart decision. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and it's a field that offers a wide range of career possibilities. Nearly every building requires HVAC components, and those components require regular maintenance and upkeep. That means there's an endless level of demand for HVAC services.
However, HVAC is also a highly specialized field. You'll be working with expensive equipment and sometimes even dangerous chemicals. That means you'll need specialized training before you can get to work. There are generally three different paths you can take before you begin your career as a full-fledged HVAC technician. Below are descriptions of each path and how it may be right for you:
Trade school. Perhaps the fastest way to start your HVAC career is to go to trade school. These programs can often be completed in a year or less, and they give you the foundation skills and knowledge you need to start your career. You'll have to pay tuition, but it likely won't cost as much as full associate's or bachelor degree.
Keep in mind, though, that many employers won't hire you as a full HVAC tech until you get some experience under your belt. Trade school will help you get in the door, but you may have to put in a few months of work after you graduate before you are paid as a full technician. However, if you're looking to start your career as soon as possible, this could be the fastest and most effective route.
Degree program. There are also a growing number of schools that offer associate and even bachelors degree programs in HVAC. These programs usually take several years to complete and may cost significantly more than a trade school HVAC maintenance training program. The benefit to a degree program is that it gives you a deeper understanding of HVAC and may even allow you to specialize in specific areas, such as commercial HVAC. That could help you enter your career at a higher income level.
Apprenticeship. Many trade organizations offer apprenticeship programs. That means you're sponsored and placed with a local HVAC company. During your apprenticeship, you mix work and classroom studies. Most apprenticeships last over a year. While they are usually paid positions, expect your wages to be significantly lower than that of a full technician. After you complete the apprenticeship, you may be eligible for employment as a full HVAC tech. An apprenticeship is a great option if you want to enter HVAC but need to earn income from the beginning.
Ready to start your HVAC career? Look into training programs in your area and talk to the admissions counselors. They can help you decide on the right course for you.