Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) is an extremely important industry. Most every home, office, school, hospital and other residential or commercial building has at least one form of HVAC system. Many have multiple units.
This means there could be many potential employment opportunities out there for you if it is your goal to work in the HVAC industry.
To reach this goal, however, you will be expected to have the knowledge necessary to complete the duties required. Some of your knowledge can be gained in the classroom. But more importantly, is the hands on, practical training you acquire.
What is Practical Training?
Practical training is the time you spend working in the HVAC field, learning how to complete all tasks successfully. Participating in hands on activities, you will learn how to diagnose and make repairs on actual units.
You get the practice you need before you enter the “real HVAC world”.
Benefits of Practical Training
There are many advantages to earning practical training in HVAC. You get to work with professionals who have many years working in the industry. This gives you access to an advisor and mentor who can teach you based on their learning experiences.
You also can work with the tools and equipment used on everyday HVAC jobs. You can get familiar with the tools that help you install, maintain and repair systems before you start your career.
Your mechanical skills will improve with each practical training you complete. Furthermore, because you will be working with others, you will learn how to work as a team, problem solving, and troubleshooting. All of these may give you an advantage once you land an HVAC job.
There are several ways to gain practical training. One is at the local college where you choose to obtain a certification or degree in HVAC. They will have practical training labs where you can gain invaluable hands on experience.
Each specific HVAC system has its own share of technical parts and equipment. You will be able to learn each of these, as well as how to install and repair them by working in a practical lab. You will work with HVAC professionals who can help you improve your troubleshooting skills as well.
These professionals can walk you through, at your pace, each step of installing, maintaining and fixing different equipment. They can also give you direct feedback on how you are progressing, and how you can improve when necessary.
In some labs, students can learn how residential and commercial units are designed. You may get extensive practice with a variety of systems, including furnaces, air conditioning, boiler systems, residential refrigerators, commercial walk-in cooling units, and even geo thermal systems.
Some HVAC programs can assist you in obtaining further practical training, in the form of externships.
Externships are a great way to gain more hands-on training, as well as apply the knowledge you learned in classes to everyday problems. Externships are sometimes established with the help of the local college you attend.
They connect you with local HVAC employers who are looking for temporary employees. They agree to train you and you agree to work for them, usually for free. However, the experience you gain during the externship is considered invaluable by many.
Externships give you opportunities to learn from professionals who have been working in the industry for a while. Such programs can range from a few months to a year, but not usually longer than that.
Once you graduate, you may desire even more hands-on training. If so, you may want to consider working as an apprentice.
As an apprentice, you are likely to be paid by your employer. It may be your goal to work as an apprentice to reach higher goals, like a licensed journeyman. It may just be your goal to gain as much experience as possible from those who are considered experts in the field.
Whatever your reason, you can benefit tremendously from this type of program, which can last for three or more years.
An apprenticeship can help you specialize in more specific areas of HVAC. For instance, you may want to focus your career on commercial refrigeration mechanics, you can choose an employer who does only this, giving you the trainingyou need in this one area.
Other areas you may want to specialize in can include commercial and residential cooling and heating, pipe fitting, steam plant safety and operation, heavy electrical jobs, or industrial controls.
Some apprenticeship programs must also include classroom time as well, mostly for those who will be taking licensure exams. Apprenticeships can vary by state and region, so it is important to check the regulations in your area before applying.
Finding the Right Practical Training Opportunities
Most local colleges offer programs that teach you the basics and give you hands on training for the most needed skills in the HVAC field. Reading blueprints, fundamentals of refrigeration, needed tools and materials for installation and repairs, and the basics of ventilation are a few necessary skills.
Others include working on air distribution and cleaning systems, choosing the right piping materials, and knowledge of circuitry systems. Furthermore, you want to be able to learn basic electricity, heat pumps, motor troubleshooting in both commercial and residential systems.
Schools that offer course work and practical training in these areas will be able to provide you with the right amount of education and experience to get you started in an HVAC career. It will be up to you to apply that knowledge and experience.
Doing so should not be a problem, however, if you take advantage of everything the college, and practical trainers or teachers, have to offer.
In less than a year, you could be adding the many new technical and mechanical talents you have gained to your resume. The skills you obtain through practical training can make a good impression on future employers, setting you up for a long and successful career as an HVAC expert.