Courses in heating and cooling are available at many trade schools and community colleges as part of certificate, diploma or associate's degree programs in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). These programs combine coursework with hands-on training. Some areas and states may require HVAC technicians to be licensed; those that handle refrigerants must be certified.
Here is an outline of common concepts taught in heating and cooling courses:
- Furnace mechanics
- Operation and repair
- Set-up of various units
- Electrical circuitry
- Testing equipment
- Social strategies
- Technical writing
List of Common Courses
Heating Systems Course
The fundamentals of heating systems can be taught as one course or in graduated levels, depending on the program. Topics can include electric, oil and gas furnaces, ignition devices, testing equipment, airflow dynamics, heat transfer, radiant heat and principles of conduction and convection. Job safety principles and troubleshooting techniques are also often included.
Air Conditioning and Ventilation Systems Course
A course in the operation and repair of air conditioning units is included in most HVAC programs. Topics can include the operation and repair of various types of air conditioning units, ventilation systems and heat pumps, including water source, air source and geothermal units. Residential and commercial air conditioning units can be addressed in the same course or separate ones.
Principles of Refrigeration Course
This course introduces the principles of the refrigeration cycle that are required when learning to charge, drain and repair refrigeration units. It is offered in many HVAC programs that also include refrigeration (HVACR). Some programs award Environmental Protection Agency certification in refrigerant management upon completion of this course.
Equipment Installation Course
Most HVAC and HVACR programs include a course in equipment installation. Some programs offer separate courses for installation of air conditioning, heating and refrigeration units. Instruction can include how to work with the sheet metal fittings that connect these units to the residential or commercial structure, although some programs offer this training as a separate course. Topics also can include troubleshooting, testing and safety training.
Electric Motor and Controls Course
In this course, which is a part of most HVAC programs, students are taught the principles of electrical circuitry, including voltage, magnetism and inductance. Various control systems for heating and air conditioning units are examined in detail. Students are also taught to use testing equipment and read electrical circuitry diagrams.
HVAC programs often include a course that teaches students the principles of ethics and professionalism. Students are taught to analyze various situations they might encounter in the HVAC industry. Topics can address both social and professional conduct as well as the decision-making process required when deciding how to handle an ethical dilemma.
A sociology course is often included in HVAC programs. It offers students the opportunity to learn about different groups of people that they might encounter working in the field. Topics include issues of multiculturalism, economics, education, class and religion.
Because HVAC technicians often deal directly with the public, communication skills are included in many programs. Students are taught writing and speaking skills that take into consideration their communication goals and audience. They are also instructed in grammar, research, rhetorical methods and word-processing.