A career in HVAC presents great opportunities for anyone willing to train and learn how to install, repair, and maintain heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. The construction industry in the U.S. took a hit during the recession but has been rebounding in recent years. According to statistics and forecasts, new construction is expected to grow and keep growing for many years to come, which means that there will continue to be a need for trained workers who graduated from an HVAC school.
It’s not just new construction that makes this an enticing industry. HVAC systems are not designed to last forever. There is always a need for maintenance, repair, and installation of new systems, so for someone going to HVAC school to learn these skills, the future is bright and includes a lot of job stability. If you like to work with your hands, think on your feet, problem solve, work with people but also be self-directed, and you like to do work that people appreciate and that you can actually see in front of you when you’re finished, HVAC is a great option.
Choosing an HVAC School – First Know What You’re Getting Into
Before you actually get to the part where you choose a school, it makes sense to understand just what it will mean to get trained in HVAC and to enter this industry. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and many skilled workers in this field are also trained in refrigeration and programmable logic controllers (PLC).
Technicians trained at an HVAC school are usually prepared to work on systems in both residential and commercial settings, but it may take a few years of on-the-job experience to work up from a residential to a commercial technician. As an HVAC technician, your job could include installing new systems, repairing existing systems, and performing routine maintenance to help keep older systems running well. Technicians usually work for a company, but mostly work independently throughout the day and are responsible for decision making on the ground. Every day is typically in a new location with a new problem to solve, so this is not a job for someone who wants to sit in an office and do the same thing day after day.
When you choose to train to be an HVAC technician you can expect to get into an industry that is growing. It’s a smart choice if you want a career with skills that will always be in demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), HVAC careers are growing at a rate of 14 percent, much faster than average, overall job growth. The BLS also records the average annual salary for an HVAC technician as $45,110. For workers with more experience and specialties, the salary can be significantly greater than the average.
Are You Ready for HVAC School?
Now that you know a little more about what it means to work in HVAC, are you ready to choose a school to get your training? To be an HVAC technician it is important to understand that you need training, but there are also characteristics of your abilities and personality that will make you more likely to succeed in the field. For instance, you need to be able to be physically active and stand on your feet for much of the day. This isn’t an office job. You also need to have good customer service skills, and the ability to troubleshoot and make independent decisions, and good time management. You also need to be prepared to spend a little over a year of training and earning a diploma at an HVAC school.
Choosing the Best HVAC School to Meet Your Needs
If you have made it this far and are still excited about HVAC, you’re ready to start figuring out where to go to school. This is an important step to take because your HVAC school will teach you what you need to know to work in the field, should help you find an apprenticeship or a job, and will be the place you spend the next 12 to 18 months of your life.
1. Choose Quality HVAC School
This goes without saying, but how do you know a school is a quality school or that you will get a quality education? One of the easiest ways to know that you are choosing a good school that will serve you well is to make sure it is accredited. Accreditation is a process that some schools go through to prove that they provide a valuable education for the money students pay.
Accrediting agencies are independent organizations that spend years looking into a school to be sure it meets all requirements and provides the kind of education it promises its students. FTC is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and is licensed by the Florida Department of Education Commission for Independent Education. If an HVAC school is not accredited, take a pass.
2. You Want an HVAC School that Provides Full Training.
HVAC systems are only getting more complicated and more technical. Don’t settle for an HVAC school that has not kept up with the times. Training alone is no longer enough in the field of HVAC. You want a school that will also train you in refrigeration repair and installation, as well as PLC. FTC’s diploma program for HVAC includes both so that you get a complete, well-rounded education in HVAC/R and PLC.
3. Look for Small, Hands-On Classes, Not Big Lecture Halls.
HVAC maintenance, repair, and installation are skills. These are not academic concepts. Although you will need to learn some theory, which may be taught lecture style, what you really want to look for in an HVAC school is the chance to get your hands dirty. You want small classes, plenty of one-on-one time with instructors, the chance to collaborate with and learn from other students, and most of all the kind of training that allows you to actually practice the work you will be doing.
4. Will Your HVAC School Help Place You in a Job, Internship, or Apprenticeship?
After you have earned your HVAC diploma, you will have a few options for what step to take next. Some graduates want to learn more hands-on skills and choose to seek out an apprenticeship with a master HVAC technician. An internship is also a possibility, but some graduates also want to get right into an entry-level job. Whichever you choose, you should have a school that works with you to help you meet your goals. At FTC the career services department is always available to help students prepare for their careers and to help match graduates with the positions they want.
5. Consider Practical Details.
Some of the practical details of going back to school are different for each student. Maybe you need a school that is close to home or one that offers classes on multiple campuses. If tuition worries you, an HVAC school with a strong financial aid department will be important. With family responsibilities or a current job, you may need to find a school with courses that work around your existing schedule. Make sure you consider all these factors before choosing a school.
6. Tour Your Top HVAC Schools.
Before you commit to any HVAC school, make sure you run through these and other factors you think are important. One of the best ways to be sure you are choosing the right school—once you have done all the research on paper—is to visit and tour the school you are interested in. At FTC you will be welcome to have a look around and to tour the state-of-the-art facilities used for HVAC training. Ask to observe classes so you can see what really happens and what the instructors are like.
Selecting an HVAC school is a big step forward for your career and your future. If you have a family to support, it is an even more important decision that will impact them as well as you. FTC has multiple campuses and a diploma program that offers HVAC/R and PLC training in a hands-on setting. Financial aid and flexible course schedules are also available. If you are interested in checking out what FTC has to offer, contact us for a tour.