If you’ve always been fascinated by circuit boards and wiring but aren’t so great with general mechanics, you may wonder if you have a calling as a future electrician. Or maybe you love anything to do with motors but aren’t as great with wiring. What are the best career options for you?
Regardless of your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll want to know what careers pay off the most in the long run. That’s when you first consider becoming an HVAC technician.
Know Your Skills
Sometimes, HVAC careers don’t ever get off the ground. Some students avoid the very classes that would help them improve on weaker skills. In other cases, students don’t know enough about future coursework. Instead, fear of the unknown diverts some students to an “easier” career path.
So—before you decide whether HVAC is for you, why not perform a little skills assessment? Then, if you worry about particular skills, realize that you’ll shore up those skills and become more confident during your coursework.
In the meantime, pay attention to these skills you may already have:
- Good time management
- People skills and customer service
- Troubleshooting and problem-solving
- Detail-orientation and ability to stay organized
- Physical strength and stamina
As for other skills, remember that you can learn those at your technical college. Once you receive hands-on instruction, you’ll be ready to obtain necessary licensing and certifications and move forward in your career.
Tip 1: Write down an inventory of your strengths and perceived weaknesses. Then you’ll know what areas to work on.
Explore the Coursework
As you prepare to enroll in your first course of study, you may feel occasional self-doubt. But don’t let your doubts interfere! Remember your skill assessment. You already possess some skills that will help you during your studies. The next step is to become familiar with the course curriculum.
Heating and AC Basics
Beginning students need to know how typical HVAC systems work. With that in mind, expect to study:
- Forced air heating systems
- High efficiency and other furnace types
- Theory of heating and cooling
- Specific systems within AC units (circuitry, vacuum pumps, etc.)
- Duct work and metal fabrication requirements for HVAC
- Hydronic systems (hot water, pipes, etc.)
As you become more confident during detailed studies of these systems, you’ll start to recognize common problems like loose fan belts, fan and motor failures, worn-out contactors, and dirty refrigerator coils. These are common problems most customers face—and your training will allow you to spot them easily.
Because you can expect a lot of customer calls about failed refrigeration systems, your courses will teach you what to watch for:
- Failed components (compressors, meters, evaporators, and the like)
- Failed controls (from defrost timers to pressure controls)
- Failed commercial systems (from walk-in coolers to commercial freezers)
You won’t feel truly ready for full-system repair and maintenance until you know about electrical systems.
If wiring isn’t your specialty, don’t worry. Your instructors offer plenty of real-life scenarios so you can learn one skill at a time. By the time you’re finished with your electrical courses, you’ll know about:
- Electrical fundamentals, including basic wiring skills and typical circuitry for homes and businesses
- AC and DC operating principles
- Single-phase electrical generation
- Electrical properties (current, voltage, resistance, combination circuitry, and more)
You’ll also learn to read blueprints, give estimates on electrical work, and take care of advanced electrical tasks.
Tip 2: Get acquainted with your coursework by speaking to instructors and current students. When you register, you can find out about basic, intermediate, and advanced courses. Then, you can begin classes.
Trust Your Certification
Once you complete your program of study, the real tests begin. When you enter the field, you see all sorts of systems, furnace brands, and strange problems. Will you be ready?
At times like these, realize you can trust your certification more than you think. By now you’ve done a lot of hands-on work at school, and you’ll be able to rely on prior experience as you go along. You will also have a network of experienced technicians to call when you see something puzzling.
Additionally, remember that some problems are new even to experienced HVAC technicians. Still, for every unusual job, you’ll probably encounter ten or twenty routine fixes. As time goes on, you’ll get better at troubleshooting. It won’t take long for you to gain confidence as you go through your career.
Tip 3: Rely on the skills you’ve worked hard to obtain. If you need a refresher on any particular topic, contact your former instructors and ask to audit a course as needed. This strategy will keep you confident on the job.
Now that you know what lies ahead of you, nothing should stop you from pursuing an exciting career in HVAC Technology. If you want to have employers compete over you, join your friends and learn great new skills at an HVAC school near you.