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The Beginner’s Guide to a Career in HVAC: Choosing an HVAC School

Posted on March 17th, 2017 by SEM Tribeca

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, an ability to troubleshoot and make independent decisions, and good time management. You also need to be prepared to spend a little over a year 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.   Choose a 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.   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. 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 […]

HVAC School Offers Cool Careers in a Hot Industry

Posted on November 21st, 2016 by SEM Tribeca

The HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) industry, also referred to as HVAC/R (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration), is a growing industry that is in constant need of qualified HVAC technicians to serve both residential and commercial markets. The HVAC industry thrives, even during economic downturns, because of the year-round comforts and lifestyles the world enjoys and expects. Combined with the growth of green technologies and the importance of energy conservation, HVAC careers are constantly in demand. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the need for qualified, well-trained HVAC technicians will rise 14 percent over the next several years. It is forecasted that an additional 56 thousand HVAC technicians will be needed in the next few years for the installation and maintenance of HVAC units. Thus, many companies have established HVAC apprenticeship programs to offer entry-level HVAC jobs to those who have the proper training and skills. With Florida’s floodwaters, record-breaking heat and hurricanes, competent HVAC mechanics and installers are needed throughout the year. In regards to pay, the BLS reports that the media salary for HVAC technicians was about $45,000 in May of 2015, with the top 10 percent earning an average of $71,000 and the lowest 10 percent earning an average of around $28,000. It is an industry that rarely experiences layoffs. The HVAC industry is one that stays on the cutting edge of technology with new jobs being created everyday such as Energy Auditors, Efficiency Specialists and Green Technology Specialists. The industry is growing and the demand for HVAC technicians is very strong. Diversity in Career Choices It is hard to dispute that the HVAC industry isn’t one of the best fields for work. The world of HVAC has many positions for the trained and the untrained worker. New technologies and green technologies are increasing the demand for those with both strong mechanical and electronic skills. Initially, some HVAC technicians may start off as an installer, but then develop into a project manager, then field supervisor and even end up in corporate leadership. There are virtually no limits to the diversity of the careers in HVAC because it takes so many positions to create, engineer, service, repair, produce, package, promote and sell HVAC products and services. Every stage has a specific task that needs to be performed. To get a better sense of all that HVAC offers, here is just a small sample of the jobs available within the HVAC industry: Blueprint Creation/Reading Controls Technician Design Engineer Dispatcher Energy Auditor Engineering Lab Technician Equipment Performance Testing Specialist Estimator Energy Conservation Specialist Field Technical Specialist Graphic Designer Green Technology Specialist HVAC Equipment Dealer IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) Inspector Machinist Manufacturer Product Manager Product Technical Support Personnel Programmer Training Instructor Safety Director Scheduler Sheet Metal Fabricator Supply Chain Specialist Shop Maintenance Manager Vendor Manager Many of these jobs can easily be found through networking, online job sites, social media and recruiters. The demand for skilled professionals to develop, manufacture, sell and install HVAC-related products is ongoing. But those wanting HVAC careers must first acquire the necessary education and training. Available Education Programs To become an educated HVAC technician, Florida Technical College (FTC) has an HVAC school that has a well-established diploma program which gives soon-to-be HVAC technicians, project managers, sales managers and other professionals, the core HVAC courses and training required to start successful HVAC careers. The HVAC/R program offered by FTC teaches students the skills and technical knowledge needed to service, repair and install all types of heating, refrigeration and air conditioning systems. The HVAC School has a curriculum that combines comprehensive classroom training with hands-on experience. FTC also provides extensive career development classes and strategies to ensure graduates successfully obtain HVAC jobs as soon as they complete the 17-month program. The certificate HVAC/R program offered by Florida Technical College’s HVAC School has fifteen core competencies to fully prepare students for HVAC careers. Starting with Applied Mathematics, the HVAC course offering gives students exposure into Basic Electricity, Industrial Safety, Mechanical Instrumentation, Refrigeration and A/C Principles, Heat Pumps and Related Systems, and Codes and Regulations, just to name a few. The HVAC School curriculum was also designed to give future graduates an environment to test their skills before getting HVAC apprenticeships and other entry-level HVAC jobs. The HVAC School’s curriculum also has lab classes in Electrical Instrumentation, Domestic Equipment, and Commercial A/C Equipment, so students are prepared for their first day out in the field. One specific area where FTC stands out is its’ Programmable Logic Controller Units-Lab. This lab gives students extensive knowledge in Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), which is used in special computer devices to control a variety of commercial and industrial systems. The PLC lab provided gives students a setting where they can test out and put to use the valued skills of being able to troubleshoot and adjust HVAC systems by using handheld computers. This training and exposure is vital to securing HVAC apprenticeships in emerging HVAC, green and energy conservation technologies. On-The-Job Training Although there are plenty of different HVAC careers, most HVAC technicians, early in their careers, will participate in an HVAC apprenticeship. Lab classes are important, but on-the-job training is needed early on to apply what is learned in both the classroom and in the lab. HVAC apprenticeships give students the opportunity to use their newly acquired skills. Many individual employers have HVAC apprenticeship and training programs for students already enrolled in HVAC courses. Additionally, HVAC apprenticeships are sponsored by joint employer and labor groups, trade associations and even by local, state and federal agencies. HVAC apprenticeship programs typically last one to five years, often requiring about 144 hours of instruction for each year of the HVAC apprenticeship. For instance, the Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA) has an HVAC apprenticeship program that gives participants real-life experience installing and servicing residential, commercial and industrial HVAC systems, monitoring automated building controls and solving problems in the field. Most HVAC apprenticeships are most fitting for those who are ready to commit […]