In the majority of buildings in the developed world, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC / R) equipment is present in one form or another. The people who install, maintain, and repair this equipment are called HVAC / R technicians. Combining the skills of electricians, plumbers, gas fitters, and builders, they install ducts, pipe work, fuel, water, and electricity lines in commercial and residential buildings. Although HVAC is a hands-on industry, it is possible for aspiring technicians to acquire the required knowledge and skills through an online program. Whether you are already working as an HVAC technician and are hoping to enhance your credentials or are looking to enter into the career for the first time, an online HVAC training program could be a good fit.
How Online HVAC Certification Programs Work
Providing a flexible learning environment, online HVAC / R certification is offered by vocational and community colleges through a diploma program. Typically lasting from five months to a year, students will be able to complete their assignments at their own speed and at times that are convenient to their schedules. The program will usually consist of a self-paced curriculum that is administered through a lesson book. At the end of each unit, there will be a series of review questions, which will help to ensure that you are properly grasping the material. Some programs will also offer supplemental video instruction.
Periodically throughout the program, you will have to log-on for online exams to assess your comprehension. In order to gain hands-on experience, students are encouraged to begin an apprenticeship with a local contractor so that they can receive practical experience in the field to go along with their studies. As an online student, you will also typically have access to an online student community portal, where you can receive instructor feedback and interact with your classmates, as well as the school’s career services center, where you can receive advice on your job search after graduation.
What You Learn in Online HVAC Courses
Online HVAC courses teach students about the design, function, installation, and repair of heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and refrigeration equipment. Students usually learn how to follow blueprints and other technical documents and how to install oil, gas, electric, solid-fuel or multiple-fuel heating and air conditioning systems. Online HVAC schools also teach students how to use various tools, including voltmeters, thermometers, pressure gauges, manometers, and burners. Although technicians may specialize in either heating or air conditioning or either commercial or residential HVAC, the curriculum will typically provide a broad education in all HVAC areas. Courses may include study in:
- Electrical and motor controls
- Heat pumps
- Introduction to HVAC
- Oil & gas heat
- HVAC/R boilers
- Sheet metal fabrication
- Duct design & installation
- Wiring & circuit design
Most online HVAC certification programs prepare you to sit for the EPA Section 608 certification exam, which is required by law in order to handle refrigerants. In some states, HVAC/ R technicians are also required to be licensed.
Benefits of Undergoing Online HVAC / R Training
HVAC / R is an attractive option for those seeking stable, hands-on careers. Climate control equipment, whether for heating or cooling, is a vital component of most modern buildings. The range of temperatures that people regard as comfortable is fairly narrow, so climate control technology is used in residential and commercial properties to improve efficiency, customer satisfaction, and quality of life, making HVAC technicians in-demand.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC / R technicians will have excellent job opportunities in the coming years. They project that positions will grow at a faster than average rate of 34% through 2020. Although formal training is not required in order to become an HVAC technician, the BLS expects that the best opportunities will go to those who have completed an accredited postsecondary vocational program. In 2012, the median annual salary for HVAC technicians was $43,640. The bottom 10% earned $27,330, while the top 10% earned $68,990.
As air conditioning becomes the standard, rather than a luxury, the job opportunities for formally trained HVAC / R technicians will steadily increase. The ease and flexibility of the online learning format is particularly suited to those who are already working in the HVAC / R field or who are established in another career and want to switch professions. Beginning online HVAC training could be a great way for you to forge a lasting career in this growing job market.