Let’s face it: college isn’t for everyone. Nor should it be. Many people don’t have the time or financial means to dedicate the next four years (at least) to attend a “regular” college or university. Luckily, there are lots of educational options available for those who wish to find a rewarding career without attending a four-year college or university.
A career in a skilled trade, like heating and cooling repair and installation, can be achieved faster and with a lower tuition through a non-four-year school and will give you the opportunity to learn a valued and valuable skill. But where do you turn for an education in a skilled trade? The answer has caused some amount of confusion.
When seeking an education in the trades, there are several different names for schools that get used: technical school, trade school, and vocational school. If you are one of the many people considering continuing your education and pursuing a career in a skilled trade, you have probably run into all of these terms and may be confused as to what the difference is between technical school, trade school, and vocational school.
In many ways, all of these names mean the same thing and are used interchangeably. However, there are a few subtle differences that are worth noting, especially if an education at one of these schools is in your future. Here are the important things you should know about each of these options for education.
What is a technical school?
A technical school, also called a technical college, is a one to two-year educational institution that offers degrees and certifications for a specific career or trade. Technical schools run the gamut from culinary arts, computer technology, cosmetology, automotive technology, HVAC, and many other fields.
Unlike a traditional four-year college, no prerequisite or general education classes are required and all your classes are focused on the specific field. Technical schools also tend to provide a blend of classroom education and hands-on learning.
What is a trade school?
By and large, trade schools and technical schools are very similar. Like a technical school, a trade school is a program that can be completed in a year or less, focusing on a specific career path or trade. The primary difference you’ll find between trade schools and technical schools is the exact career education they provide.
By definition trade schools typically focus on more hands-on careers and fields such as HVAC, automotive, plumbing, electricians training, carpentry, and the like whereas technical schools can offer education for more technical fields. As a result, trade schools spend more time doing hands-on education than classroom work. Trade schools will provide the appropriate certification necessary to immediately work in the chosen field after graduation.
What is a vocational school?
A vocational school can be thought of as somewhat of an umbrella term for both technical schools and trade schools. A vocation is simply a trade or profession, so this term is often used interchangeably when referring to both of these kinds of schools. Completing your education at a “vocational school” will provide you with the certification or degree you need to enter your chosen field.
The Training Center for Air Conditioning and Heating
So in the end, while each of these different names refers to slightly different institutions, each of them has the same goal: help you get the education and training you need to start the next chapter of your career.
That is what we strive for here at The Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning. Call us a trade school, call us a technical school, call us a vocational school, we don’t care. We only care about one thing: helping prepare you for your future in heating and air conditioning.
Our 10-week program will provide you with the classroom education and hands-on training you’ll need to prepare for the necessary certifications, begin your new rewarding career, and ultimately find success in the industry. Not to mention, you’ll complete all of this in a fraction of the time and cost you would attending a four-year university.
If you are ready to begin your career in HVAC, learn more about our upcoming schedule of classes or ask us how you can sit in on a class for free to see if The Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning and a career in HVAC is right for you.
There is a bit of a misconception about HVAC career paths. Many assume that after you get your education, training, and certifications from your heating and air conditioning training school your options for a job are either becoming an HVAC technician or an HVAC installer. While both of these career paths are very rewarding, HVAC career paths are not anywhere near as limited as the perceptions may be.
The truth is getting your certification in heating and air conditioning can open you up to a wide range of HVAC career paths, each with its own unique specialties and rewards. Some of them will keep you in homes and businesses helping out those in need, others will take you to worlds of innovation.
If you are considering pursuing education and training in the HVAC industry but are concerned about limited career options, let us put your mind at ease right here and now. Here are a few examples of the various HVAC career paths you can follow when you begin your career in the HVAC industry.
These positions are typically the first that come to mind when someone thinks about a career in HVAC. The reason for this is because this is the type of HVAC professional that people encounter and interact with the most as well as being a common first job for many new HVAC training graduates.
While it is true that a career as an HVAC technician or HVAC installer is a common career path, that doesn’t make it any less important or rewarding. Technicians and installers provide an invaluable service to customers (both residential and commercial) maintaining, troubleshooting, fixing, and installing furnaces, air conditioning systems, and other heating, cooling, and comfort systems. The average salary for a HVAC technician in Texas is around $42k per year.
Automotive HVAC Technician
HVAC technicians aren’t just relegated to working with in-home systems. Just about every single vehicle manufactured today, and the majority of those on the road right now, are equipped with air conditioning and heating systems. These systems require a specific skill set and require more than just a regular car mechanic to maintain and repair.
As an HVAC technician, you have the opportunity to specialize in HVAC areas outside of homes and businesses, including the automotive industry. Your career path may begin in a common fashion, but pursuing additional training and certifications can elevate your HVAC career into an entirely different area, with its own challenges, opportunities, and equipment to master.
A similar road for HVAC technicians can lead to a career in HVAC servicing commercial customers of another very different kind. Restaurants, hotels, and other similar establishments depend on the use of large refrigeration systems to store and preserve food and beverages to serve to their customers. Without properly running refrigeration, their food supplies spoil and they can’t serve their customers.
These large refrigeration systems, maybe not so surprisingly, utilize refrigeration equipment not so different from the cooling systems you’ll train to master at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating. Your career path as an HVAC technician can become one that specializes in troubleshooting, maintaining, repairing, and installing these refrigeration systems, providing very specialized and valuable services to commercial businesses. Technicians in this specialty average around 40k per year in Texas.
Solar Energy Technician
As the world looks to adopt more widespread use of clean and renewable energy sources, businesses from factories to retail locations have begun using solar energy as a primary source for their energy needs. In order to harness the energy from the sun, complex arrangements of solar panels are required to capture solar energy. The solar energy technicians that install, maintain, and fix these panels often start their careers in HVAC.
Your career in HVAC can lead you down a path of working with cutting-edge technology and green solutions to preserving natural resources. In the United States, 3% of electricity comes from solar energy and this figure is only going to grow. As a result, not only are solar energy technicians an exciting career path, job opportunities have increased by over 167%. Additional training will be required to work on these systems, but in Texas the average solar energy technician can make on average around $73k per year.
Wind Turbine Technician
Solar energy isn’t the only green energy technology available for HVAC professionals to adopt along their HVAC career path. The energy produced by wind turbines is clean, cost-effective, and is currently the largest source of renewable energy in the US. This has made wind turbine technicians one of the fastest growing and available jobs in the country, and one that can begin with training in the HVAC field.
Wind turbine technicians can make around $55k per year in Texas, and with the availability of jobs and the growing demand, this is a very appealing road for many HVAC professionals to take.
Because of the proficiency in electrical components, refrigeration, and problem-solving you will gain through your training and education, a whole world of opportunities await those in HVAC. All you need to do is find what interests you and pursue your passion. The demand for skilled labor across the board is high, so no matter which direction your HVAC career path goes there will be a place for you if you are willing to work hard and put in the work.
At The Training Center of Air Conditioning, we will provide you with the education, training, and certifications you will need to pursue whatever path you choose. Learn more about our 10-week course and our upcoming schedule of classes today.
In the heating and cooling business, technical know-how is obviously key to doing your job. However, succeeding in your job often requires other skills, which we have talked about extensively in the past, like communication and teamwork.
However, these skills don’t exclusively translate to working with customers and fellow service technicians and installers within your company. Devoting your skills and time to working with those outside of your HVAC company can have some fantastic benefits.
What are we talking about exactly? We are talking about the benefits of building relationships with other home services companies in your area.
Even though home service companies like plumbers, electricians, flooring, landscaping, construction contractors, and concrete companies may provide a very different kind of service from your company, at the end of the day you have a common goal: provide homeowners with a valuable service that helps improve their lives and home.
Besides just being a good home service neighbor, having good connections and relationships with the various home service companies in your area opens the door for many benefits and opportunities. Here are some of the perks and why this is sometimes an overlooked opportunity for new HVAC professionals.
Find a trusted partner
Even though you provide very different services, the home service companies are destined to cross paths at some point in time on a single job. Maybe a situation will occur in which you run into an electrical issue during a routine installation that requires an electrician to run new electrical.
In this situation, the customer will be looking to you for advice and where to turn next. If you have done your networking and built relationships with different companies, you will undoubtedly have someone in mind you can refer them to right away that you know will get them taken care of and do the job right.
Having trusted partners to turn to when customers need a referral allows you to go above and beyond for a customer and help you establish even more value in their eyes than before. A customer that feels taken care of and is happy will be more likely to come back to you in the future or refer customers to you in turn.
In the home service industry, home service referrals are fortunately a two-way street. If you have done your due diligence in establishing relationships with these kinds of companies, there may become a day in which the script of the scenario we talked about before becomes flipped.
Say a building contractor working with a customer on building their dream home eventually reaches the point that they need ductwork installed or their HVAC system installed. With so many options for heating and cooling companies to turn to in the area, what would cause them to recommend you?
Establishing a rapport and demonstrating your value as a trusted company with your home service colleagues will help establish you as their “go-to” when they need to make a recommendation. Just like you want to give your customers the best treatment, so do they, and referring them to a company like yours will do that.
On the business side, having strong relationships with other home service providers creates some very unique marketing and other business opportunities. One such opportunity may be as simple as them allowing you to leave advertisements in the form of business cards, flyers, or pamphlets around their office for their customers to see and take when they come in for a visit.
If you and another business can come to an agreement, you might also be able to establish referral bonuses for any customers that they might send your way. This could be in the form of payment to the other company as thanks for them sending work your way, or it could be a reward for the customer themselves, offering them a small cash or gift card bonus when they drop your home service referrals partner’s name.
It may seem like a minor thing, taking the time to build relationships with the companies in your area, but doing so can have very monetary and reputational benefits for you and the heating and cooling company you work for.
So, take the time to pick up the phone, visit their office, or put together an event and introduce yourself to those around you. Chances are, they will understand the value of your home service referrals relationship and be excited to take part in it as well.
As we continue to see the number of vaccinations across the country rise and the number of cases dropping, the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming more and more visible. While we aren’t out of the woods quite yet, we are at a point in time where those of us in the HVAC industry can start looking forward to what the HVAC industry will look like post-COVID.
While leadership in the industry is predicting that 2021 and the future of the HVAC industry looks good, that doesn’t mean there won’t be repercussions of the pandemic affecting installers, technicians, and heating and cooling companies in the post-COVID world.
In fact, for the foreseeable future, there will indeed be some major changes to the demands of heating and cooling customers and new challenges that will have a major impact on the way the HVAC industry operates.
For those of you who will soon be completing your heating and cooling certification and training and entering the workforce or those of you interested in beginning your career by enrolling in our training program, here are some important things to think about in the industry going into a post-COVID world.
Air quality control will be a top priority
Since the beginning of the pandemic, prioritizing the air quality and ventilation of commercial and home buildings has been a CDC recommendation for helping reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. That has resulted in a surge of businesses and homes investing in air purification systems and filtration systems with effective results.
As we eventually reach a place in time where the Coronavirus itself becomes a more and more distant memory, the impact that it had on our outlook on safety and protection will linger. As home and business owners continue to prioritize air purification as a means to not only overcome the Coronavirus but also prevent a similar outbreak from occurring again, purchases of this type of equipment and service are on the rise and expected to reach a market of $28.3 billion by 2027.
Consumers are interested, and will continue to be interested, in investing in this equipment for years to come. As an HVAC technician, installer, or business owner, this means a steady stream of service requests will continue to come our way in both residential and commercial spaces. A market that those in the industry need to be ready to take advantage of.
This emphasis on air purification systems means HVAC professionals everywhere need to emphasize training and education about the various systems available, making sure they and their team of technicians are ready to educate and install these systems to best serve the safety and comfort of their customers. Air purification systems now need to become a core pillar in HVAC training.
Focus on safety practices
Masks, gloves, regular hand washing, social distancing, all of these safety measures have become a part of our daily lives. For those in the home service industry, they have been especially important as our jobs take us into the homes of our customers, some complete strangers, who need to feel safe and protected in your presence.
As more and more get access to the vaccine, these social distancing precautions in public spaces will inevitably begin to lax. However, in the comfort and safety of their own home, many customers may still wish for strangers to continue to practice safety. In order to serve the best interest of the customers we serve, even as the number of vaccinations rises, we recommend continuing to practice social distancing and hygienic practices.
You never know when a customer will feel uneasy about the presence of a stranger in the fallout of this pandemic. HVAC technicians should still continue to carry masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers in their vehicles and be respectful of social distancing for the foreseeable future when dealing with customers directly.
Supply and material shortages
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on all businesses, but manufacturers were especially hard hit. Plant shutdowns, lay-offs, and difficulties with trade throughout the pandemic have culminated in a large material shortage for important and once abundant materials important to the HVAC industry like copper and plastics used in the manufacturing of HVAC equipment as well as microchips important in the programming of smart home technology.
While experts are hopeful that this shortage we are experiencing will eventually resolve itself, for the foreseeable future it will cause HVAC business owners and customers alike quite a bit of difficulty to navigate.
Material shortages are resulting in longer lead times in manufacturing and delivery equipment. This means a customer’s order for a new air conditioner will take far longer than usual to be fulfilled. As we head into the hottest months of the year, this is going to be quite frustrating for customers.
As professionals in the industry, it will be our responsibility to educate our customers of this shortage, understand its impact, and help them make the best decisions to help navigate it, like encouraging customers to schedule their pre-seasonal inspections and maintenance earlier than they usually might. Doing so will allow them ample time to identify any issues and get their orders in for parts and replacement early.
From material shortages causing delays in your sales process to an urgency and emphasis by buyers to take advantage of air filtration and ventilation systems, there will be a lot of adjustments that need to be made by HVAC professionals to navigate the post-COVID world. However, all of this just means that well-trained and knowledgeable technicians and installers will be in demand more than ever.
Learn more about our schedule of upcoming classes and start your career today.
HVAC is an incredibly technical field. Becoming a licensed technician or installer takes extensive training and hands on experience, making the “know-how” of the job and every little in and out of the equipment you work on crucial. You cannot understate the value of technical skills in the HVAC field.
That being said, success in the industry is not entirely dependent on how skilled you are at navigating HVAC equipment. A successful HVAC technician or installer must also be adept at soft skills as well.
Soft skills are skills such as creative thinking, conflict resolution, time management, teamwork, networking, and other social skills that can help you succeed in your career. Basically, the opposite of the technical skills you learn throughout your training at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating.
But, for a technical career like this one, why are these soft skills so important. In short, technical skills will help you do your job; soft skills help you do your job better and open avenues and opportunities for you to excel within your career.
Here are just a few ways that developing soft skills can help your HVAC career.
Represent you and your company proudly
For employers, soft skills are important for one major reason: how you conduct yourself, interact with customers, and what kind of impression you make. See, when you arrive at a customer’s home to perform your inspection, maintenance, or repairs you aren’t just there as yourself, you are there as a representation of your company, who wants you to perform your job effectively, make the customer happy, and leave a good impression.
A technician that lacks desirable soft skills or social skills isn’t likely to meet those expectations. Say a technician shows up to a customer’s home late, smelling like cigarettes, grumbles a curt greeting before demanding to see the system, before stomping their dirty boots through the customer’s home. This isn’t just a bad impression on yourself, but the company they are there representing.
A technician who has developed their soft skills will be self-aware enough to realize just how important their professionalism and conduct is as their company’s reputation is on the line with every interaction. Your poor performance can have a serious impact on your company.
Become a more desirable technician
An HVAC technician who is well-spoken, communicates well, and exhibits traits like good work ethic, creative thinking, and strong teamwork is going to be much more desirable than the alternative in several different ways.
The first, and most useful for someone currently going through career training or preparing to begin their training, is obviously landing a job. The technical skills on your resume will obviously be important for getting you an interview, but displaying your soft skills during the interview will help you make the best impression possible and stand out among other candidates.
Once you are on the job, however, being a desirable technician also has its perks. A technician who is charming, well-spoken, and always leaves their customers happy and satisfied can develop a loyal customer base who prefers your services, keeping you busy and well compensated.
Exhibiting a strong work ethic, initiative, leadership, and teamwork skills can also help put you at the front of the pack for promotions and other advancement opportunities.
Better communicate with customers
Communication is a big deal for those working in the HVAC industry. When you have to have conversations with your customer about what is wrong with their system, what it will take to fix it, and, most painfully, how much it is going to cost, tempers are likely to flare.
Soft skills in communication, conflict resolution, and empathy play a big role in customer relations. The ability to not lose your head, remain calm, and truly understand their perspective when someone is upset will help you be able to diffuse any high-tempered situations and calm customers.
The issues you encounter will also likely be very technical and beyond the knowledge of the average customer. Communication skills can help you better breakdown and explain the problem in a way that doesn’t make you sound superior or condescending, while being reassuring and comforting to customers.
How to develop your HVAC soft skills
Learning technical skills is easy enough. They can be learned through classes and hands-on learning, like the one here at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating. Soft skills, however, aren’t so straightforward.
While learning soft skills is an important aspect of the HVAC industry, they aren’t always taught in the classroom. Instead, they are developed in the world outside the classroom. If you want to strive to be a better professional, getting real-world experience interacting with employers, customers, and coworkers is the best resource. Always open yourself up to feedback from others, actively listen to what they have to say, and think of how their feedback can be applied to your work habits. You can also research different courses, classes, or reading material outside of your HVAC classroom that can help you solidify these skills as well.
Looking for a place in the Houston area to hone the technical HVAC skills you will need alongside the HVAC soft skills you require? Classes are in session at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating. Call 281.580.4239 to learn more or reserve your spot online today.