In some trade schools, there is only one clear occupation you can have once you’ve graduated or earned a certificate. For example, if you go to dental assisting school, you are singularly qualified to be a dental assistant once you have completed the program. In other trade schools, such as culinary school, graduates are well-suited for a variety of careers directly or indirectly related to their field. Those who complete HVAC school will fall somewhere in the middle. While you will not have the flexibility that you would with, say, a general degree in biology, you will nonetheless have multiple career options and room to grow. This can be seen in the number of specialties in which some educational institutions allow you to specialize. The more skills you have in additional areas, the more qualified you will be to branch out into related HVAC careers.
Installers and Designers
As an HVAC installer and designer, you will be responsible for putting together systems that meet the needs of your customers. You might design and install one particular type of system, such as air conditioners, or have a more cursory knowledge of all system types. You will need to know how to read blueprints to install systems effectively and so that they function properly. You might work as an independent contractor or for an installation and design company. Your clients might include residential homeowners or commercial business owners.
If you work as a service technician, you are responsible for the maintenance and repair of HVAC systems. This means that you might not spend as much time installing systems, but you will trade in your blueprint-reading abilities for analytical and problem-solving skills. You will use a variety of tools, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, pipe cutters, carbon monoxide detectors, voltmeters, and combustion analyzers to service various systems. Again, you may specialize in a particular system, perhaps only working with refrigeration units, or you may develop the skills to maintain and repair multiple types of unit.
A less hands-on application of your skills would be in the sales arena. You would still be required to have all the same information and knowledge, but instead of making house calls to install or repair equipment, you might spend more of your time in an office making phone calls and taking orders. On the other hand, you may visit peoples’ homes to give estimates or discuss their options with them. People who work in sales must be charismatic, outgoing, and personable.
Sheet Metal Workers
If, in your studies as an HVAC technician, you develop a special appreciation for the ducts used in heating and air conditioning, you may find yourself with a sheet metal job. These workers fabricate and/or install the sheet metal used in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. You might spend your time welding, bolting, and soldering; altering parts at construction sites; drilling holes in metal; and/or selecting types of metal or other materials.
Home Appliance Installers
Some students may be increasingly drawn toward refrigeration systems and other appliances’ systems. In this case, you may end up in the related field of home appliance care. In this case, you would service refrigerators, dish washers, washers, dryers, and other appliances’ in peoples’ homes. You will need to have knowledge of water, gas, and electrical lines in order to service these appliances correctly. You may also need basic math and finance skills to estimate repair costs and collect payments.