Heating, ventilating and air conditioning
Whether you live in Minneapolis or Miami, you cannot live without your local HVAC professionals. Heating and cooling are integral to housing, food storage, medicine and just about everything in between. Office buildings, apartment buildings and hospitals (to name a few large buildings) all rely on ventilation for good air quality.
HVAC technicians make adjustments to heating and ventilation systems through engineering, system controls or a combination of both. Most HVAC specialists are trained in both installation and maintenance, though many end up specializing in one specific area, such as:
- Furnace installation
- Air conditioning mechanics
- Industrial refrigeration mechanics
You may also see HVAC referred to as HVACR (for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration).
Most of the training you will receive in the HVAC industry will be on the job, whether it's through a formal apprenticeship or informal training. To become certified, however, you have to go to school.
A broad range of HVAC training and certification programs (from six months to two years) are offered at trade schools across the country. Students in HVAC training programs learn the basics of installation and repair, as well as aspects of theory and design. Learning may even extend into the basics of electronics and construction.
Currently, there are about 250,000 HVAC mechanics and installers in the United States, and the industry is still growing. It seems like everywhere you look, new homes are being built, so there will always be a need for HVAC mechanics. For those with an interest in HVAC, now is a great time to enroll in school and learn the skills required to succeed in the industry.
Most heating and ventilation specialists end up working outdoors and are subject to weather conditions. If you work in maintenance, you may end up working odd hours or on call. Since many functions in HVAC are critical (you might be dealing with apartment buildings without proper heat), workers may be called on to pull "all-nighters" or work very long shifts sporadically.
HVAC workers are generally paid very well. In many areas of North America, they start at $18 to $20 per hour.