Heating and Cooling Training Programs and Requirements

Heating and cooling systems are installed, repaired and maintained by heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC) technicians. Because these systems all contain similar mechanical and electrical components, heating and cooling training is typically included in HVAC training. HVAC training programs are available as apprenticeships or as undergraduate degree or vocational training programs.

Heating and Cooling Training Requirements and Recommendations

Heating and cooling technicians typically need a high school diploma or GED. While some heating and cooling system installers train on the job, most learn through formal vocational training programs. Experience is often required, and some employers prefer applicants with working knowledge of commercial or residential heating and cooling systems.

Formal Education

Heating and cooling technicians often participate in formal training at the certificate, diploma or associate degree levels. HVAC bachelor's degree programs are also available but are generally geared toward individuals who are interested in designing heating and cooling systems rather than installing and repairing them. Heating and cooling training programs typically prepare students for state licensure exams.

Certificate in Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC)

A heating and cooling technician certificate program generally takes 1-2 years to complete. Participants learn to properly handle refrigerants and work with electrical circuitry. They also learn to diagnose, install and service heating and cooling systems.

Diploma in Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC)

Diploma programs typically take two years to complete and are often offered through trade schools. Students learn about commercial and residential heating and cooling systems. They study topics such as electrical wiring, airflow calculation and management, safety procedures and blueprint reading.

Associate of Applied Science in Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC-R)

This 2-year degree program combines practical knowledge with a foundation in liberal arts. Students learn about air circulation and study gas and oil heating systems as well as electric heating and cooling systems. They also study construction mathematics and learn trade skills such as brazing and soldering.

Job Experience

In order to work as a heating and cooling technician, many employers require between six months and two years of experience. One way to gain hands-on skills is through college work experiences, which often account for a semester of real world training. Heating and cooling technician apprenticeships combine education and paid, on-the-job training. These types of HVAC training programs generally take 3-5 years to complete.

Licenses and Certifications

Many states require heating and cooling technicians to obtain licensure. Requirements vary by state but typically include meeting minimum education or work experience requirements and passing an exam. Additionally, heating and cooling technicians must have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification in order to legally buy and handle refrigerants. Voluntary certifications are also available through heating and cooling organizations, such as HVAC Excellence (www.hvacexcellence.org) and the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (www.ahrinet.org).

Workshops and Seminars

Heating and cooling technicians can participate in HVAC conferences. These educational events typically run for several days and cover key topics such as energy efficiency. Colleges often sponsor heating and cooling seminars, which may be held as part of larger construction seminars or as individual case studies in topics like solar heating and cooling.

Additional Professional Development

Heating and cooling technicians often take online or campus-based continuing education classes in HVAC technology and state regulations. Organizational and state-run websites often provide Web newsletters, links to industry reports and HVAC guidelines.

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