Heating Mechanic: Trade School Diploma Overview

In air-conditioning, refrigeration, and heating mechanic diploma programs, students can learn the necessary mechanical and diagnostic skills involved in the maintenance and repair of these systems. Explore courses taught in an HVAC maintenance diploma program, and obtain more information about popular career options, continuing education opportunities, and median salary.

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Essential Information

Students may be taught how to plan and estimate the cost of maintenance and repair procedures and learn the practices, rules, and regulations that are standard in the industry. Trade school diploma programs can prepare students to work professionally as mechanics and technicians in residential, commercial, and industrial environments. Some programs may require a high school diploma or a GED, while other programs may not require these credentials. Programs that do not require a high school diploma may require students to pass a qualifying examination.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Construction Management and Trades
  • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
  • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
  • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
  • Leatherworking and Upholstery
  • Precision Metal Working
  • Precision Systems Maintenance
  • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance

Diploma in HVAC Maintenance

Air-conditioning, heating, and refrigeration systems are made of a variety of electrical, electronic, and mechanical components, including compressors, motors, pumps, fans, ducts, thermostats, switches, and pipes. Courses are designed to teach students the practical skills involved with the installation and maintenance of these components. Course topics are often offered at a few different levels; for example, a program may offer three distinct course levels on heating systems. Here are some courses that a student may take:

  • Electrical systems
  • Heating technology
  • Commercial refrigeration
  • Air-conditioning systems
  • Circuits and controls
  • Physical properties

Popular Career Options

Technicians will typically specialize in either maintenance and repair or installation of heating, air-conditioning, or refrigeration systems. It is also common for a technician to specialize in a specific type of system, such as a heating or refrigeration system. Some technicians may specialize in a particular type of equipment, such as water-based heating systems or commercial refrigeration. Skilled technicians may work in a variety of environments, including residential spaces, commercial buildings, and industrial facilities. Here are some common career titles:

  • Heating technician
  • Installation and service worker
  • Design and sales engineer
  • Refrigeration mechanic

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates faster than average job growth of 14% for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers over the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). Median earnings for these mechanics and installers in May 2015 were $45,110.

Continuing Education

Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration technicians often learn specialized skills while employed, or by working as apprentices for more experienced technicians. Individuals may choose to take additional coursework that focuses on computer skills and software applications; an increasing number of temperature control systems are operated through computers.

Particular localities will require technicians to be licensed by passing a specialized exam; these exams vary in content by location. Technicians who work with refrigerants must be certified in their particular areas of specialization. The three possible types of certification are (1) small appliances, (2) high-pressure refrigerants, and (3) low-pressure refrigerants. Exams are administered by unions, trade schools, building groups, and contractor associations.

Technicians may seek a range of voluntary certifications. Technicians with less than two years of experience may take a sequence of exams that are designed to test basic competency in commercial refrigeration, residential cooling and heating, and light commercial cooling and heating. These entry-level exams are administered by secondary and postsecondary trade and technical schools. Other types of certifications are offered through the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, and the HVAC Excellence organization. These certifications demonstrate competency in handling specific types of equipment.

Completing a HVAC maintenance diploma will give students access to a job market growing 14% over the next decade. Increase your odds of success even more by pursuing certificates offered by organizations such as the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society or the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute.

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