Should I work an apprenticeship while becoming a HVAC-R Technician?

An apprenticeship combines your classroom skills with on-the-job training. Is it worth your while? Absolutely. When you pursue a trade, such as in HVAC, a formal education is not necessarily required, however, a professional certificate proving that you have been taught the basics is certainly encouraged. But how do you truly learn your trade? Most of us would agree that we learn best by getting in there with our hands and doing it ourselves, right? No doubt, an apprenticeship will help you achieve your goals.

Perhaps you are wondering how to secure an apprenticeship. If you are attending a HVAC-R professional certificate class, either through your local community college or by an online format, your school may be able to locate business owners, through job message boards, who occasionally need additional help. Be prepared to pass a background check, as well as, having your driving record checked, for a clean driver’s license is a must. Another possibility is to contact your local union chapter that represents the HVAC field for job opportunities.  In most cases, you can obtain a paying apprenticeship, but not always.  Only you will know if you can afford to sacrifice a paycheck for the experience.

When you secure an apprenticeship, your mentor will most likely be a master journeyman with years of experience and knowledge to pass on to you. Soak it up! They will begin by familiarizing themselves with your current capabilities and then begin with a general overview of tasks that every HVAC Tech should know.

Within the typical apprenticeship experience, you should learn basic concepts for installing and repairing all types of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. You will learn about air flow and ventilation, as well as, about air quality. You will learn how to service units by cleaning coils, changing filters and checking refrigerant levels using meters, gauges and scales, in addition to, other hand tools and machinery. You will learn about the different power sources, such as, electricity, gas, air and water. In addition, you should learn how to take proper measurements and apply industrial math to formulas, along with, proper safety rules and regulations, among many other topics. In today’s world of technology, HVAC Technicians now need to have basic computer skills for drafting, reading digital blueprints for new installs and other related tasks, like cost estimating and constructing proposals. An apprenticeship can expand your knowledge in all aspects of HVAC repair.

Apprenticeships can last for a while. Typically, depending on your progression, it may last three to five years, however, if your state requires apprenticeships, a set number of hours may be required before you can take certification exams and earn your license. In most cases, an apprentice is not required to have a license while working under the instruction of a master service technician.

Remember to put your best foot forward while working your apprenticeship. You must have a good attitude, be punctual, attentive and be willing to do the little jobs that nobody else wants to do. It’s when you show initiative in completing the menial tasks that you will be given more responsibility and the acknowledgement you deserve.

Upon completion of your apprenticeship, you should be ready for a lead position in the HVAC business. If you are interested in this job path, please see our list of the best Online Schools for HVAC-R Tech Programs to help you in your endeavors.