What career path combines high-tech computers, mechanical engineering, and construction, and has the goal of making people safe and comfortable? Heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration - or HVACR.
This dynamic field offers the opportunity to use many different skills to achieve a result that everyone appreciates: comfort and security for people in a wide range of settings including workers on the job, patients in hospitals, guests in hotels, and families at home.
Technology has changed the HVACR industry. Gone are the days when a mechanical furnace in the basement provided heat and an air conditioner in the window provided cooling. Today, computer-controlled heating and air conditioning systems regulate the temperature, humidity, and the overall air quality in residential, commercial, industrial, and other buildings. Refrigeration systems, which use related technology, make it possible to store and transport food and other perishable items.
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technicians install, maintain, and repair these increasingly complex systems. HVACR technicians are often highly specialized. They may focus on heating systems, air conditioning, or refrigeration, and specialize in either installation or maintenance and repair. Some are skilled in one type of equipment such as solar panels, hydronics (water-based heating systems), or commercial refrigeration.
Technicians may also sell service contracts to their clients. Service contracts provide for regular maintenance of the heating and cooling systems, and help to reduce the seasonal fluctuations of this type of work.
What kind of training do HVACR technicians need? According to the U.S. Government Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Because of the increasing sophistication of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems, employers prefer to hire those who have completed technical school training or a formal apprenticeship."
Accredited career schools offer HVACR training. Programs can last between six months and two years, and can result in a certificate or associate degree. Many people continue their education and earn a bachelor's or even master's degree in engineering or computer science.
The goal of most training programs is to prepare the student for professional certification. National accrediting bodies include HVAC Excellence, the National Center for Construction Education and Research, and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation. In addition, HVACR technicians are required to be licensed by many states and localities. Requirements for licensure vary greatly, but states or localities that grant licenses require the applicant to pass a test.
How about employment prospects? The news is good! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the current decade 2008-2018, job prospects for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers are expected to be excellent, particularly for those who have completed training from an accredited technical school or a formal apprenticeship.
Where are areas of possible employment growth? Here are a few:
• Replacement of old HVACR systems with environmentally friendly systems. For example, replacing central air conditioning units that are more than 12 years old with EnergyStar qualified models can cut cooling costs by thirty percent.
• Servicing HVACR systems from the recent building boom..
• The resurgence of new construction in growing areas of the country.
• The increased complexity of new systems that require more servicing. Sophisticated home, office, and industrial systems use computer controllers and advanced technologies such as solar and heat transfer.
• Steady rate of retirement by older HVACR technicians.
Job opportunities exist for people with the right training. If a career in HVACR sounds right for you, then check out career training programs by going online to a reputable college directory website. You can compare programs, check out flexible schedules, and get information about financial aid and career services. Then, when you have received information and you've narrowed your choices to the top two or three, make your application. In less time than you think you could be on your way to a rewarding new career.