The weather is often a conversation starter for many. Some find it too hot in summer, some find it too cold in winter, and some find it plain inconvenient at various times. This can get even more intense when you are indoors. HVAC–short for Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning – makes every kind of weather pleasantly bearable throughout the year. In this blog, we will explore deeper facets of this industry,and the HVAC training programs offered for both amateurs and professionals at Southeastern Technical College.
HVAC Career Overview
HVAC is essentially a part of the construction field. Yet, while the construction industry is subject to the fluctuation and instability that are part of a national economy, the HVAC sector is largely insulated from it for two simple reasons.
First, although it is relatively a new industry, it is now considered an essential industry, especially in the Western world.
Second, both new and existing buildings require HVAC installation and maintenance, so it does not get redundant. For instance, if your air-conditioning breaks during the hot summer, you will call an HVAC professional to fix it regardless of the national economy. With this in mind, here are three other reasons to consider a career in HVAC.
It Is A Diverse Industry
It may come as a surprise to many that this industry offers tremendous diversity. In fact, there are a plethora of skilled jobs to keep an HVAC professional active and happy. They include:
While most of these professionals are employed in the construction industry, you can also become self-employed once you gain the required experience and technical certification.
It Is A Hands-On Job
Regardless of the role you choose within the HVAC industry, know it is an active, hands-on job. This means that you are bound to spend most of your time working with your hands, outside an office – typically at a construction site. As an HVAC technician, you will be expected to install a new HVAC system, or even migrate an existing system, in adherence to building codes provided by the city council.
As a senior technician/ supervisor, you will also be called to collaborate with the site engineer and provide technical support on HVAC installations. You may even be required during the site-planning stage, as their implementation requires complex mathematical computations. Finally, HVAC professionals are known to take after-hour calls during the week, to troubleshoot or repair many an existing system.
It Is A Booming Industry
Yes, we have the statistics to prove it. According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US), this industry can expect a high average growth of 15% between 2016 and 2026, creating close to 48,800 new jobs every year. This is more than double the offerings from a majority of other professions, which have an average growth prediction of just 7%.
It also predicts a healthy annual income of $47,080 for an HVAC technician. (Experiences professionals can earn almost twice that amount!) These are for full-time jobs, with the occasional over-time.
In the rest of this blog, you will learn about the training and certification opportunities available for the HVAC industry, especially at Southeastern Technical College.
Training & Certification
As we explored above, the HVAC industry requires multiple skills to fulfill its diverse needs. This includes both technical and mechanical knowledge of HVAC systems, awareness of construction and safety guidelines enforced within your city, ability to compute mathematical formula as per the site's HVAC needs, and the ability to work in a construction site comfortably.
As you may be directly dealing with a site engineer or a client, you will also need soft skills like customer management, time management, analytical reasoning, and critical thinking. As you can see, this is a skilled industry, and hence warrants both training and certification programs to support your entry and growth within the industry.
A High-School Degree Is A Prerequisite
Because of the technical nature of this industry, both universities and technical schools insist on a high-school degree (or a GED) in order to enroll for training and certification. (This is also true for Southeastern Technical College.) In the US, this can take up to four years to complete the required certification.
Engineering Degrees Versus Technical Certifications
The engineering degree obviously offers you more versatile career opportunities. Here, you can seek to pursue a four-year degree in either mechanical engineering or in HVAC engineering itself. This will help you get familiar with engineering systems like air-conditioners, piping systems and electric systems, while also introducing you to engineering computational concepts like load balancing, psychometric analysis, etc.
On the other hand, a technical certification program (like the ones offered by Southeastern Technical College) can take anywhere between 6-months to 2-years full-time, and double that period part-time. This is more suitable for those who are committed to a career in HVAC.
In addition, if you have already studied about HVAC technology as part of your under-graduate, credits for the same may be factored into the technical certification program. This in turn will reduce the total time required to complete the certification program.
Apprenticeship And Industry Experience
Regardless of whether you pursue an educational degree/ certificate, industry experience is a must-have for the HVAC world. For this reason, graduation students choose to supplement their education programs with part-time apprenticeship/ internship programs within the industry.
You can also choose to pursue an apprenticeship directly after your high school graduation. However, this route may require you to remain in an entry-level position for up to three years, until you have the required experience and licensing certification.
Southeastern Technical College HVAC Training Program
Southeastern Technical College offers skilled educative programs across multiple fields. This includes industries like accounting and administration, nursing and healthcare, business technology, business management, information technology and networking, industrial and environmental technology and human resources.
Based on your budget and vocational needs, you can enroll in their full-fledged degree programs, a curriculum-based diploma, or a technical certification program.
Vocation Based HVAC Training Programs
With HVAC being the thriving industry it is, Southeastern Technical College offers its students a two-year HVAC/R technology degree, with a curriculum specially customized for the HVAC industry.
his way, students who enroll into this degree understand beforehand the potential career choices they have after completing the degree. Most graduates go on to become HVAC technicians, hired by construction contractors or HVAC retail/ repair companies. The program also prepares you to work both on indoor and outdoor HVAC installations. The level of technical expertise is such that some graduates even go on to open their own HVAC businesses.
The total cost of the degree is $20,155, including books and tool supplies. Besides this, enrolled students are expected to bring their own laptop (BYOL), which they can also purchase (for an additional cost) at Southeastern Technical College's in-house tech support center.
Highlights of the HVAC/R technology degree program
The program is offered across four semesters, with seventy-two credits, spread across both classroom sessions and online coursework. As with all degree programs and technical certifications, Southeastern Technical College also requires its students to have a high-school degree/ GED prior to enrolment.
The first semester includes an introductory ‘Math 100' to familiarize students with college-level math. This is a fundamental requirement in the HVAC industry, as it often involves complex mathematical computations integral to the job. The fundamentals of engineering and mechanical systems are also covered in this semester, including electricity and heating & refrigeration systems.
Finally, the college also strengthens the overall coursework by offering at least one course every semester that is centered on an industry-specific soft skill (like communication, customer management, etc.).
The second and third semesters are more technical, although they also include courses on customer psychology. In these two semesters, students learn about metal fabrication and the ins and outs of various HVAC systems (like heating, ventilation and air-conditioning). They are also led through hands-on training of installation and repair procedures.
The final semester focuses on specialized equipment like heat pumps, high-pressure chillers, split equipment, outdoor equipment, etc. Finally, students are prepared for their foray into the industry with finishing soft-skill based courses.
Although HVAC is a relatively recent development in construction, the burgeoning industry is growing at a rapid rate of 15% until 2026. If you are good with your hands and like working outside a regular office, this field has diverse career opportunities for you. However, as is typical in a skill-based industry, you will first need to fortify your skills with a technical certification of licensing degree.
The two-year HVAC/R degree program offered by Southeastern Technical College is specially designed for this thriving industry. It offers its students a superior educative experience while also preparing them for greater success in the thriving HVAC industry. Now this is what we call a winning combination.