There are about 300,000 Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) professionals working in this country today, so if you are thinking about a career in the field it’s a big pool to jump into. Retirements and average job growth should result in consistent job opportunities. A little over half work for contractors in the field, and the rest are employed by various institutions, property management firms, large building operators, schools, hospitals and organizations that are responsible for similar, large structures. Perhaps the biggest operators of large buildings requiring HVAC maintenance are state, local and federal governments. These jobs may include decent benefit packages that are getting harder to find in private industry today.


Several options are out there for HVAC technician schools. There are training program available for HVAC technician candidates at some community colleges and vocational schools. These training programs last one to two years and the graduate emerges with either a certificate or an associate’s degree. You can also obtain an online university degree through one of several accredited institutions.

Learning about this craft involves learning to work with sheet metal, as the conduits for ventilation of all temperatures are sheet metal ducts. There is also a good amount of textbook work studying the theory of temperature control, the design and functionality of the equipment used in HVAC systems, and the electronics required to make them run. The classroom work is provided through these training or degree programs. Learning the installation skills generally comes through on the job training.

Apprenticeship Programs

Many HVAC technicians enroll in an apprenticeship program; this is one of the building trades that still maintain apprenticeship opportunities on a widespread basis. Generally the programs are co-sponsored by an organization of HVAC contractors and by the sheet metal workers union or plumbers and pipefitters union. These alliances can be through national or regional organizations.

Apprenticeship programs can last three to five years and include paid, on the job training. In many instances, candidates for apprenticeship who have already completed the classroom work have great appeal to employers. Knowing the theory of these installations is just going to speed learning the practicalities.

Virtually all states require HVAC contractors to pass an exam and obtain licensure. Many states and some localities require a license of HVAC technicians and maintenance workers as well. The exams vary; some focus on HVAC theory and application and others require a thorough knowledge of building and electrical codes. If you are unsure about this issue, check both with the state and with the county or city where you live, to see if there are requirements at either or both levels.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Hartzell writes on careers and education for several websites