Heating and air-conditioning
Heating and air-conditioning systems control the temperature, and the total air quality in residential, commercial, industrial, and other buildings. Refrigeration systems make it possible to store and transport food, medicine, and other perishable items. Craftsmen in this trade install, maintain, and repair such systems.
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 heating systems, for example, a furnace heats air that is distributed throughout the building via a system of metal or fiberglass ducts. Technicians must be able to maintain, diagnose, and correct problems through the entire system. To do this, they adjust system controls to recommended settings and test the performance of the entire system using special tools and test equipment.
After a furnace has been installed, heating equipment technicians often perform routine maintenance and repair work to keep the system operating efficiently. During the fall and winter, for example, when the system is used most, they service and adjust burners and blowers. If the system is not operating properly, they check the thermostat, burner nozzles, controls, or other parts to diagnose and then correct the problem.
Refrigeration mechanics install, service, and repair a variety of industrial and commercial refrigeration systems. They follow blueprints and instructions to install motors, condensing units, and other components. They connect this equipment to the ductwork, refrigeration lines, and power. After making all connections, they charge the system with refrigerant, check it for proper operation, and program the control system.
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Employment of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Candidates familiar with computers and electronics and those with good troubleshooting skills will have the best job opportunities as employers continue to have difficulty finding qualified technicians to work on complex new systems.
|Journeyman HVAC Technician Median Wage||$44,400+ per year
$21.35 per hour
|Wage Survey, NEFBA Apprenticeship Participating Employers (May 2014)|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||267,600|
|Job Outlook, 2012-22||21% (Faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2012-22||55,900|
United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (Jan. 2014
Meet NEFBA Apprenticeship HVAC Graduate Rafeal Grundy.
Rafeal Grundy Sr., an Inspector for the City of Jacksonville, was the president and founder of Grundy & Sons Heating and Air. Grundy is a graduate of NEFBA’s heating, venting and air-conditioning apprentice program. He is also an instructor for the NEFBA program.
Grundy appreciates the experience and on-the-job training aspects of the program.
“Classroom instruction is important for learning the basics, but the actual experience of applying that knowledge is a big advantage of an apprenticeship program,” Grundy said. “Also, I believe the very high standard of excellence that the program instills in the students is excellent preparation for dealing with issues in real-world situations.”
Apprentice training exceeded Grundy’s high expectations.
“From the very beginning I had specific goals – I knew who and what I wanted to be in the HVAC industry,” he said. “The NEFBA apprenticeship program not only prepared me, but educated me beyond even the high industry standards. I was well prepared for the state exam in two years.”
This apprentice graduate and business owner believes the apprentice program is even more important today. The present work force is aging, he said, and the retirement of skilled workers will leave room for new graduates. Also, the construction industry is making a strong comeback, and new positions are opening up. The future belongs to those who are prepared for it, and apprentice training puts you on the right track.