Growth Trends for Related Jobs
HVAC apprenticeship programs fall under the National Apprenticeship Act, overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL works with the states to manage the nation’s apprenticeship system. At the state level there are State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs) that work with employers, employer associations and joint labor/management organizations to establish apprenticeship programs, and oversee them. Those wanting to enter an HVAC apprenticeship program will follow paths requiring classroom instruction and work experience performing real world HVAC tasks.
States offer HVAC programs at community and technical colleges where students can take courses during the evenings while working full-time in the HVAC trade or as full-time students. Upon completing the course, they will find opportunities within the HVAC field to gain the work experience needed for certification as an apprentice.
HVAC relies upon people with multiple skills, unlike some other trades where the job requirements have a small range of skills required. HVAC employees must work with electricity, plumbing and ventilation technologies. They also need to have very good math skills and understand the physical properties of the forces they work with.
These classroom studies train the HVAC student in foundation skills like industrial math and practical measurements. At the higher levels of the programs, the students learn elements of chemistry, physics, hydrology, mechanics, and electricity.
A key component of an apprenticeship program is on-the-job training (OJT). In one scenario, HVAC employees, or union members, who are in an apprenticeship program work at a lower wage than fully-trained employees while learning hands-on skills needed to perform their jobs. This is a traditional apprenticeship program where the person works a specified number of hours in the trade to become a certified apprentice. The national standard is a minimum of 2,000 hours of OJT, although individual programs may exceed that requirement to reach the training level desired.
In the newer competency-based and hybrid approaches to HVAC apprenticeship programs, OJT is augmented with related technical instruction that may be given in a classroom or on a job site where the necessary components for instruction are present.
Registered Apprenticeship Sponsors
HVAC apprenticeship programs that are sponsored by employers and trade associations may offer only on-the-job training, or a combination of classroom and OJT. The DOL and the SAAs oversee the Registered Apprenticeship sponsors and the training they provide to employees. The goal is to connect job seekers looking for new skills with employers who need qualified employees. Since the training is industry-driven it is highly relevant and localized to the needs of the HVAC industry.