The types of classes people take in trade school are different than those offered at traditional four-year universities. The courses also vary depending on program length, type of degree offered, and by institution. Some programs may focus more heavily on general education requirements, while others have you study more intently the technical skills associated with HVAC maintenance and repair. Programs also differ by class instruction. Some may offer more hands-on classes where you get to practice working on actual heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration units, while others require that students spend a majority of their time in the classroom. Some schools actually offer curriculum that is entirely online, in which case you would not experience any hands-on study. There may also be schools that offer externship or apprenticeship opportunities, in which case you would get real-world experience before you are officially a qualified professional.
General Education Classes
These classes are most commonly found as part of an associate degree curriculum. This is because in addition to your study of HVAC systems, you will also have to fulfil all general requirements of associate degrees – requirements that virtually anyone who is a part of an associate program will have to take, regardless of major or concentration. These classes might include communication skills, composition or English classes, math or science topics, or other courses within liberal arts. While not specifically related to the study of a particular trade, becoming knowledgeable in these general areas can nonetheless help you in your career. For example, if you take classes in communication, particularly interpersonal communication, you will be better suited to deal with customers and will have more-developed customer service skills. If you study math, you will be better prepared if you one day choose to open your own HVAC service company, as running your own business involves accounting and finance knowledge, of which math lays the foundation. How many classes you take in these categories will depend on the length of program. Some students choose to pursue associate degrees if they do not have any previous postsecondary education, while students who already have an associate degree or some postsecondary schooling (where they completed general education requirements) may only enter a certificate program.
Technical Skills Classes
Obviously, studying heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and possibly refrigeration requires that you take courses where you learn about specific systems. These classes may include courses like refrigeration fundamentals, basic electricity, heating and air conditioning, commercial systems, environmental controls and equipment, and system design. Courses such as these introduce you to all the concepts related to HVAC systems and typically work their way up from “basic” or “fundamental” courses all the way up to advanced studies. While the exact classes you take will depend on your specific program’s curriculum, they all aim at preparing you to be a successful technician upon graduation. Some of them also work in studies related to the certification exams you will one day have to take. These classes will help you prepare for those tests so that you can excel on them and earn certification more easily. You may want to consider how you typically learn and ask advisors at the schools you are considering how classes are structured. If you learn more easily through diagrams and textbooks, air towards curricula that is lecture and classroom-focused. If you hate staring at a whiteboard and would prefer to learn through practice, seek out programs that allow this type of participation.