In this program, students gain the knowledge and hands on skills necessary to perform the duties in an entry level HVAC technician as a General Technician, Installer or Repair Technician; Service Representative, Air Conditioning Technician, Heating Technician, Air Balancing Technician, Facility Maintenance Air Conditioning Technician, and providing repair and installation services for manufacturers and dealers. They may also achieve third party certification such as HVAC Excellence, and EPA certification (section 608).
In our modern society, there will always be a demand for HVAC/R technicians. Regulating temperature and providing refrigeration is important not only for comfort but are requirements for safe and healthy environments, operations, and processes. Because of this, HVAC/R occupations are projected to be in high demand for many years to come. HVAC training through NIU College is a smart investment.
HVAC/R technology is a fast-paced and in-demand career. NIU College, the premier career college in Los Angeles, understands this and keeps their classes on the cutting edge of the HVAC industry. Their scheduling is flexible (with morning, afternoon, and evening classes) and their HVAC training programs can be completed in less than a year. Class sizes are small, which makes for a better teaching and learning environment. Plus, with scholarship opportunities and low tuition rates, students at NIU College spend much less money than they would at other schools.
What does HVAC training allow NIU College graduates to do? Students are capable of being entry-level HVAC technicians in a variety of jobs. Because installations, repairs, and maintenance for heating and air systems will be in your skill set, you can work for many different businesses. Facilities, homes, manufacturers, and dealers of heating, cooling, and refrigeration products and services all hire HVAC technicians. EPA certification is included in the program. Additionally, students that perform well may be eligible for third party professional certification.
Furthermore, NIU College offers guided job placement activities and resume writing advice to help you out. Get your career going today and call (855) NIU-COLLEGE or fill out an “I’m Ready” form on the NIU College website.
Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers
(excerpted from the US Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook)
- Nature of the Work
- Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
- Job Outlook
- Significant Points
- Job prospects are expected to be excellent.
- Employment is projected to grow much faster than the average.
- Employers prefer to hire those who have completed technical school training or a formal apprenticeship.
Nature of the Work
Heating and air-conditioning systems control the temperature, humidity, and the total air quality in residential, commercial, industrial, and other buildings. By providing a climate controlled environment, refrigeration systems make it possible to store and transport food, medicine, and other perishable items. Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers—also called technicians—install, maintain, and repair such systems. Because heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems often are referred to as HVACR systems, these workers also may be called HVACR technicians.
Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems consist of many mechanical, electrical, and electronic components, such as motors, compressors, pumps, fans, ducts, pipes, thermostats, and switches. In central forced air heating systems, for example, a furnace heats air, which is then distributed through a system of metal or fiberglass ducts. Technicians maintain, diagnose, and correct problems throughout the entire system. To do this, they adjust system controls to recommended settings and test the performance of the system using special tools and test equipment.
Technicians often specialize in either installation or maintenance and repair, although they are trained to do both. They also may specialize in doing heating work or air-conditioning or refrigeration work. Some specialize in one type of equipment—for example, Hydronics (water-based heating systems), solar panels, or commercial refrigeration.
Technicians are often required to sell service contracts to their clients. Service contracts provide for regular maintenance of the heating and cooling systems, and they help to reduce the seasonal fluctuations of this type of work.
Technicians follow blueprints or other specifications to install oil, gas, electric, solid-fuel, and multiple-fuel heating systems and air-conditioning systems. After putting the equipment in place, they install fuel and water supply lines, air ducts and vents, pumps, and other components. They may connect electrical wiring and controls and check the unit for proper operation. To ensure the proper functioning of the system, furnace installers often use combustion test equipment, such as carbon dioxide testers, carbon monoxide testers, combustion analyzers, and oxygen testers. These tests ensure that the system will operate safely and at peak efficiency.
After a furnace or air-conditioning unit has been installed, technicians often perform routine maintenance and repair work to keep the systems operating efficiently. They may adjust burners and blowers and check for leaks. If the system is not operating properly, technicians check the thermostat, burner nozzles, controls, or other parts to diagnose and correct the problem.
Technicians also install and maintain heat pumps, which are similar to air conditioners but can be reversed so that they both heat and cool a home. Because of the added complexity, and the fact that they run both in summer and winter, these systems often require more maintenance and need to be replaced more frequently than traditional furnaces and air conditioners.
During the summer, when heating systems are not being used, heating equipment technicians do maintenance work, such as replacing filters, ducts, and other parts of the system that may accumulate dust and impurities during the operating season. During the winter, air-conditioning mechanics inspect the systems and do required maintenance, such as overhauling compressors.
Refrigeration mechanics install, service, and repair industrial and commercial refrigerating systems and a variety of refrigeration equipment. They follow blueprints, design specifications, and manufacturers’ instructions to install motors, compressors, condensing units, evaporators, piping, and other components. They connect this equipment to the ductwork, refrigerant lines, and electrical power source. After making the connections, refrigerator mechanics charge the system with refrigerant, check it for proper operation and leaks, and program control systems.
When air-conditioning and refrigeration technicians service equipment, they must use care to conserve, recover, and recycle the refrigerants used in air-conditioning and refrigeration systems. The release of these refrigerants can be harmful to the environment. Technicians conserve the refrigerant by making sure that there are no leaks in the system; they recover it by venting the refrigerant into proper cylinders; they recycle it for reuse with special filter-dryers, or they ensure that the refrigerant is properly disposed of.
Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers are adept at using a variety of tools to work with refrigerant lines and air ducts, including hammers, wrenches, metal snips, electric drills, pipe cutters and benders, measurement gauges, and acetylene torches. They use voltmeters, thermometers, pressure gauges, manometers, and other testing devices to check airflow, refrigerant pressure, electrical circuits, burners, and other components.
Work environment. Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers work in homes, retail establishments, hospitals, office buildings, and factories—anywhere there is climate-control equipment that needs to be installed, repaired, or serviced. They may be assigned to specific job sites at the beginning of each day or may be dispatched to a variety of locations if they are making service calls.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Because of the increasing sophistication of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems, employers prefer to hire those who have completed technical school training or a formal apprenticeship.
Many heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers receive their primary training in secondary and postsecondary technical and trade schools and junior and community colleges that offer programs in heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration. These programs can take between 6 months and 2 years to complete.
In addition, all technicians who purchase or work with refrigerants must be certified in their proper handling. To become certified to purchase and handle refrigerants, technicians must pass a written examination specific to the type of work in which they specialize. The three possible areas of certification are: Type I—servicing small appliances; Type II—high-pressure refrigerants; and Type III—low-pressure refrigerants. Exams are administered by organizations approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Because technicians frequently deal directly with the public, they should be courteous and tactful, especially when dealing with an aggravated customer. They should be in good physical condition because they sometimes have to lift and move heavy equipment.
Throughout the learning process, technicians may have to take a number of tests that measure their skills. For those with relevant coursework and less than 2 years of experience, the industry has developed a series of exams to test basic competency in residential heating and cooling, light commercial heating and cooling, and commercial refrigeration. These are referred to as “Entry-level” certification exams and are commonly conducted at both secondary and postsecondary technical and trade schools.
The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute offers an Industry Competency Exam; HVAC Excellence offers both a Secondary Employment Ready Exam and a Secondary Heat and Heat Plus exams; and National Occupational Competency Testing Institute offers a secondary exam; and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society offers two levels of certification, as well. Employers increasingly recommend taking and passing these tests and obtaining certification; doing so may increase advancement opportunities.
Advancement usually takes the form of higher wages. Some technicians, however, may advance to positions as supervisor or service manager. Others may move into sales and marketing. Still others may become building superintendents, cost estimators, system test and balance specialists, or, with the necessary certification, teachers. Those with sufficient money and managerial skill can open their own contracting business.
Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers held about 308,200 jobs in 2008; about 54 percent worked for plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors. The rest were employed in a variety of industries throughout the country, reflecting a widespread dependence on climate-control systems. Some worked for refrigeration and air-conditioning service and repair shops, schools, and stores that sell heating and air-conditioning systems. Local governments, the Federal Government, hospitals, office buildings, and other organizations that operate large air-conditioning, refrigeration, or heating systems also employed these workers. About 16 percent of these workers were self-employed.
With much faster than average job growth and numerous expected retirements, heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers should have excellent employment opportunities.
Employment of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to increase 28 percent during the 2008-18 decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the population and stock of buildings grows, so does the demand for residential, commercial, and industrial climate-control systems. Residential HVACR systems generally need replacement after 10 to 15 years; the large number of homes built in recent years will enter this replacement timeframe by 2018. The increased complexity of HVACR systems, which increases the possibility that equipment may malfunction, also will create opportunities for service technicians. A growing focus on improving indoor air quality and the increasing use of refrigerated equipment by a rising number of stores and gasoline stations that sell food should also create more jobs for heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration technicians.
Concern for the environment and the need to reduce energy consumption overall has prompted the development of new energy-saving heating and air-conditioning systems. This emphasis on better energy management is expected to lead to the replacement of older systems and the installation of newer, more efficient systems in existing homes and buildings. Also, demand for maintenance and service work should rise as businesses and homeowners strive to keep increasingly complex systems operating at peak efficiency. Regulations prohibiting the discharge and production of older types of refrigerants that pollute the atmosphere should continue to result in the need to replace many existing air conditioning systems or to modify them to use new environmentally safe refrigerants. The pace of replacement in the commercial and industrial sectors will quicken if Congress or individual States change tax rules designed to encourage companies to buy new HVACR equipment.
Job prospects for heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers are expected to be excellent, particularly for those who have completed training. A growing number of retirements of highly skilled technicians are expected to generate many more job openings. Many contractors have reported problems finding enough workers to meet the demand for service and installation of HVACR systems.
NIU COLLEGE PROGRAM SUMMARY
Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC/R)
- Program Goals: To acquire the knowledge and manual skills necessary to perform the duties in an entry level HVAC technician as a general technician, installer or repair technician; or achieve third party certification exam eligibility such as HVAC Excellence and EPA certification (section 608).
- Description: The HVAC/R program teaches how to install, repair and perform preventative maintenance for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. Learners integrate the electronic or direct digital controls from the equipment to the building or computer-operated environmental network. In addition, students in this program will also study how to make the indoor living environment comfortable. They study air balancing, occupant comfort conditions, and indoor air quality testing. This program allows students hands-on opportunities. Students work with residential furnaces and air conditioning units. They learn about commercial heating and cooling and building equipment, such as chillers, and refrigeration equipment, and many other pieces of equipment.
- Program clock hours: 960
- Program schedule: M-F 8am-12pm; or, 1pm-5pm; or, 6pm-10pm.
- Program length in weeks: 44
- Program prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent; or pass assessment.
- Completion document awarded: Upon successful completion of the program the graduate will receive a certificate in Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration.
- Evaluation: Student will undergo written assignments, quizzes and exams, workshop procedure performance evaluations.
- Courses for this program:
|Master Student||4 Hours|
|Theory of Heat||16 Hours|
|Safety, Tools and Equipment Shop Practices||140 Hours|
|Basic Automatic Controls||80 Hours|
|Electric Motors||80 Hours|
|Commercial Refrigeration||160 Hours|
|Air Conditioning – Heating and Humidification||80 Hours|
|Air Conditioning – Cooling||80 Hours|
|All Weather Systems||20 Hours|
|Domestic Appliances||60 Hours|
|Chilled Water A/C Systems||40 Hours|
|EPA Cert Prep||20 Hours|
|Career Dev||20 Hours|