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Maintaining Your HVAC Certification After Graduation

Maintaining Your HVAC Certification After Graduation

Maintaining Your HVAC Certification After Graduation

You’ve completed your education and received your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning certification, but how do you maintain your certification? Certification is one of the most important qualities that the customer is going to be looking for, so it is crucial that you have the right certifications if you want to get work as an HVAC technician. 

Certified or licensed HVAC technicians earn their credentials through their studies and work experience. Not all states require licensing, but even in states with no formal licensing requirements, employers usually prefer job applicants with professional certifications. 

In the states that do require licensing, applicants must pass a written exam like the one we provide for our students. For example, Texas accepts a passing score on the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) exam for HVAC technicians in addition to registration with the state government.

It is important to keep your certification up to date and ensure it does not expire. Depending on the type of certification you receive, the expiration date may vary. Some certifications never expire while others need to be renewed every five years

Types of Certifications

There are multiple types of certifications you can receive including EPA Section 608 Certification, HVAC Excellence Certification, NATE Certification, and more. Each certification is just as important as the other because different states have different licensing requirements for HVAC technicians. However, one of these is recognized across all the states, unlike the rest.

EPA Section 608 Certification

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires everyone with access to a system or container storing refrigerant gas to receive certification. Every HVAC technician has to ensure that the refrigerants used in the systems are handled appropriately because of regulations set forth in the Clean Air Act. Some HVAC certifications are based on specific sections of the Clean Air Act, such as Section 608. 

The good news is that Section 608 certification never expires. However, if you lose your certification card, you may have to retake the test depending on your situation.

HVAC Excellence Certification

This non-profit organization was founded in 1994 to improve the technical competency of the HVAC industry through validation of the technical education process. The certification process and the areas of study are similar to those utilized by NATE, though this organization covers the electrical aspects of heating and air conditioning with separate examinations.

The HVAC Excellence certification is really a blanket term for a series of specialized certifications. These range from basic to master-level certifications that require varying levels of preparation. The two more prestigious of these certifications are known as the “Professional Level” and the “Master Specialist Level” and require renewal after five years.

NATE Certification

Being able to obtain the North American Technician Excellence certification at the start of your career can only help your reputation as a technician. The NATE certification shows that you have been properly trained and have learned how to specialize in a particular area. 

With NATE, you can customize your certification to your specific needs or employer’s requirements. These certifications must be renewed every two years. Renewal requires either submitting 16 continuing education hours every two years or retaking the specialty exam only, before the end of the two-year certification period.

Maintaining Certification

The HVAC industry is a growing industry that continues to attract more people. At some point in the future, there will most likely be a surplus of qualified HVAC technicians. This is where receiving your certification puts you ahead of the competition. After receiving your certification, it is important that you maintain your certification by renewing it when necessary. 

Here at The Training Center of Air Conditioning & Heating in Texas, we can provide you with the resources to become a great HVAC technician. If you are ready to make a career change, be sure to learn more about our program and the classes we have to offer.

The HVAC Industry Needs More Women

The HVAC Industry Needs More Women

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry has long been a male-dominated industry. Whereas there are more females employed as social workers, human resources managers, speech-language pathologists, and dental assistants, men dominate the skilled trades. 

Of the 367,900 Americans employed in 2018 as HVAC mechanics and installers, just 1.4 percent of those were women according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For contractors looking to expand their workforce, a number like this represents a huge potential. There is a need for technical trades, especially as the industry is experiencing high demand. 

With skilled labor shortages, HVAC is one of the most in-demand careers on the market. The job outlook for HVAC careers is currently expected to grow 14% before 2024 – double the typical growth for most industries. This will allow for the creation of more jobs for women which is necessary in order for the industry to survive.

In order for businesses in the HVAC industry to grow and find quality employees for the future, business owners must look outside the industry’s preconceived idea of what a “service technician” looks like. When most people picture the average HVAC expert, they likely imagine a man. 

Challenging the Stereotype

Challenging the stereotype that HVAC technicians are always men is the first step to encouraging women to join this ever-growing industry. Once that is completed, women are often excited by the possibilities. A career in HVAC certainly offers a lot more than your typical day job!

In general, women communicate well, pay attention to detail, analyze situations and solve problems. These interpersonal skills in combination with HVAC skills can really help women succeed in the industry, and these skills can also help the HVAC industry as a whole. 

However, misconceptions about female HVAC technicians could be impeding the overall progress. Some people believe women are not strong enough or smart enough to work in the HVAC industry

Others think women lack the necessary training to perform the duties necessary to succeed. When women are being trained, they are being prepared to do the same work as a man meaning the training they receive is no different from the training men receive.

Women in HVACR is an organization that was organized exclusively for educational purposes to further the growth of women in all areas of the HVAC industry. This does not just include the technical area but also sales, management, and ownership. They work to debunk myths that the HVAC industry cannot succeed with women in it. Just like Women in HVACR, the organization Women of HVAC exists to include and promote women in an industry traditionally reserved for men.

How We Help

Here at The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating in Texas, we invite everyone to study under our director, Chris Walters. For women looking to better themselves and begin a career in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry, be sure to connect with us to learn more about planning your HVAC career!

If you have any questions regarding the HVAC industry and the education you will receive here, check out some of the common questions we receive and our answers to each. Your career’s ultimate success depends on several factors. Of these factors, the most important is arguably your training experience!

What Skills Do You Need to Succeed in a HVAC Career?

What Skills Do You Need to Succeed in a HVAC Career?

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is expected to grow 14% before 2024 – double the typical growth for most industries. Becoming an HVAC technician is a great way to ensure your skills will always be in demand. Besides the technical skills, in this field, technicians also use practical skills that lead them to success.

Communication Skills

For those looking to step foot into the HVAC industry, it is important that you know how to communicate calmly and effectively with those you encounter. When working with many clients, it is important to understand that these clients may be stressed since things are not working the way they are supposed to.

You will need to be able to effectively explain what you are doing in order to help solve the problem at hand. A majority of your customers will not know the technical terms of the industry. Because of this, you will need to be able to explain what you are doing in a way that your customers will be able to understand. 

Clients already have high standards for anyone they choose to hire for HVAC work. By explaining the procedures, they will be much more comfortable and confident in your abilities as a technician. 

Problem Solving Skills

Troubleshooting is one of the most important skills someone can possess in the HVAC industry. A majority of the time, technicians will receive a call about a system before they have a chance to diagnose the problem. Being able to effectively identify an issue is just one skill necessary to be successful at problem-solving. However, a job may not always be as straightforward as it seems.

When the problem is different than what you originally thought, some quick, creative thinking will help you get the job done. This requires asking the client some questions and working with the system to see what may have failed. The faster you can figure out the problem and design a solution to fix it, the more effective you will be as a technician. 

Organization Skills

Many technicians deal with multiple calls a day and they have to be able to efficiently finish each task in order to move on to the next call without delay. Staying organized is a large part of being successful as a technician. You must be able to maintain accurate records of each visit, the work that was performed, and any equipment that was used.

Customer Service Skills

Any job where you will be interacting with clients regularly requires excellent customer service skills. Interacting with homeowners, property managers, and building superintendents takes a certain level of finesse that a great technician should have.

Clients often expect a professional attitude and general regard for the customer. As an HVAC technician, demonstrating excellent customer service to your clients will leave an excellent impression on them and encourage them to call you again the next time their air conditioning breaks down. 

Developing Your Skills

There are many skills necessary for you to succeed in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry. There will always be HVAC systems which means there will always be people that need repairs and replacements. To be successful in this industry, you need to have an exceptional list of skills and strengths. This may sound difficult, but for the right kind of person, it’s a fun, rewarding, and challenging career.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can succeed in the HVAC industry, contact us today.

R22: Is it Really the King of Refrigerants?

R22: Is it Really the King of Refrigerants?

The vast majority of American homes with HVAC systems use R22 refrigerant in the coolant system. Historically, this coolant has been regarded as the most effective and the best overall value, contributing to its widespread use. Plenty of HVAC technicians still highly praise this refrigerant and use it in all their work. However, is R22 really everything it’s claimed to be?

A growing number of HVAC technicians and industry experts are beginning to turn to alternatives to the R22 refrigerant. Whether they cite environmental concerns, chemical differences, or any of a number of other reasons, it’s worth looking closer at their questions about this so-called king of refrigerants.

R22 coolant may not deserve all the praise it gets from the HVAC industry. Take a closer look and learn the facts about this chemical here. Click To Tweet

Environmental Concerns

Almost since the invention of home air conditioning, R22 has been the nearly-exclusive refrigerant most people used. If not for its environmental dangers, it would probably still hold that title. The ingredients in R22 are known to damage the ozone layer and contribute to greenhouse gases. Even after the problem was discovered and a solution agreed upon, the deadline for a resolution has only recently begun to loom and prompt quick action.

Alternatives to R22

The puron refrigerant R410A, which was significantly safer for the environment, slowly began to gain prominence with time. Reluctant technicians stayed away from R410A at first, citing a host of reasons it didn’t work. Others pointed out that because of their different chemical compositions, R410A produced higher pressure than R22, making the compressors work harder in an HVAC system. R410A also contains caustic POE oils instead of the much safer mineral oil used in R22.

As the deadline approached, many manufacturers had to stop producing machines designed to use R22. Consequently, more and more technicians sought out alternatives such as R410A. However, many continued to cite bad results and blamed the new refrigerant rather than a lack of effort to change. Many still tried to purchase R22 for their work, causing the price to skyrocket from $50/jug to more than $900.

What This Means for Your HVAC Career

Chemists had developed a host of alternatives that could be used in R22 units, including several refrigerants with a near-perfect match on performance and pressure. Today, there are at least 10 refrigerants available that either match or outperform R22 in its refrigerant properties.421A in particular shows great promise. Why spend hundreds of dollars on an environmentally unsafe compound when you can save money and the earth through buying an alternative refrigerant?

Of course, many of your clients will still have older machines that use the original types of refrigerants or an alternative to R22 that you may not have heard of. Before you buy any new refrigerant for a client or suggest a top-off of what they have, make sure you know exactly what type they’re currently using. Putting in the wrong compound could damage their HVAC unit and cause terrible warranty problems for you as the contractor.

Pro Tip: Different units will use different types of refrigerants. Make sure to educate yourself on the most common types and their pros and cons so you can help your customers make an informed decision.

Finding the Right Refrigerant for the Job

The modern world changes rapidly, and the HVAC industry is no exception. Refrigerants will come and go as more cost-effective and environmentally friendly options are developed. Always be willing to compare your old favorites to new products. You may be surprised to see that what was once the gold standard now takes a backseat to a new arrival, much like the R22 refrigerant is phasing out of the industry.

Connect with us to learn more about different HVAC refrigerants and how to best use (or avoid) them in your career.

Ongoing Education: Never Stop Learning

Ongoing Education: Never Stop Learning

Regardless of your career choice, you can’t afford to stop learning. This is especially true for HVAC contractors. While this may sound like a no-brainer, the fact that countless American homes have an incorrectly installed AC unit shows that plenty of HVAC contractors don’t see the need to continue improving their work.

With the introduction of such features as thermostats and electronic circuit cards to AC systems, the need for continuous HVAC training became more pronounced. Since electronics change much more rapidly and readily than less advanced hardware, it’s absolutely essential to know how to keep up with these updates and learn how to use this new form of equipment. Unfortunately, not enough contractors see the need to keep learning once their classes are over. Let’s take a look at why continuous learning is relevant to your HVAC career.

Are you prepared to continue learning throughout your new HVAC career? Here’s why ongoing self-education is so important. Click To Tweet

Teach Yourself Through Available Resources

You will run into veteran technicians out in the field that think they know it all and basically quit learning new stuff years ago. This is a poor approach to any career. Unfortunately, these guys frequently get senior positions and talk with authority. If you get stuck with one of these types and can’t get away from his influence, quit that job and go seek another one.

This need to learn constantly is a good thing since it keeps us in learning and research mode, which makes staying current even easier.  There’s no shame in just taking to the internet to search for an AC-related question or advice. Years ago, HVAC technicians relied heavily on books and factory tech support. Now, with smartphones and the internet, you literally have a world of information at your fingertips. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?

Continuing Education is Often Legally Required

If your goal is to open your own HVAC business, almost every licensing jurisdiction requires continuing education of 8 hours per year as a minimum standard. By keeping up with this requirement, HVAC contractors can continue improving their work, keep their licenses current, and stay up-to-date on every update to the industry. Whether you have a license or not, get in the habit of learning everything you can as often as you can about the HVAC industry.

Pro Tip: When it comes to the HVAC industry, never stop learning! There’s always something new to teach yourself or a positive change you can make.

Don’t Just be a Tourist

If your ultimate goal is to work your way to your own HVAC business or just use your newfound skills to support yourself, don’t allow it to become just a job. Don’t be a casual tourist of anything that is important to you. Your HVAC business can support you and your family for a long time to come. Do yourself a favor and stay informed to remain competitive in this growing industry.

Keep Teaching Yourself

Like any other career field in the modern world, HVAC recommendations and work change very frequently and with little warning. If you fail to keep yourself updated and educated on how to handle these new changes, your career will be rather short-lived. Keep your career on track and your customers happy by educating yourself on any topic relevant to the HVAC field. Never stop learning!

Join the conversation for more ways to continue educating yourself through your HVAC career.