Whether you’re a seasoned technician or just starting your career in HVAC, there are plenty of resources to help along the way. Knowing where to get proper training, what certifications are available, handy apps to install, and industry events to attend will help you excel at the trade.
Online Certificate Programs
The nice thing about HVAC training and certification is that it’s not hard to find. Because of the industry labor shortage, trade organizations and even contractors themselves are doing everything they can to make training programs accessible. Many of these even allow you to start or further your training from the comfort of your home.
- Air Conditioning Contractors of America — ACCA is an HVAC association that offers a training program in proper light commercial design that complies with the HVAC Quality Installation Specification. Their Light Commercial HVAC Online Certification teaches students how to calculate the heat loss and/or heat gain for commercial buildings and how to design the ducted distribution systems for these structures. The course mostly allows you to learn at your own pace, but must be completed within 180 days of starting it.
- Ashworth College — Ashworth is one of many colleges that offers an HVAC program. The program is available entirely online, and includes preparation and testing costs for the EPA Section 608 refrigerant certification. This course is valuable for those just starting their HVAC career or those looking to expand their current industrial maintenance skill set.
- HVAC Training Solutions — From HVAC boot camp to more advanced topics, there’s plenty to learn from the courses offered at HVAC Training Solutions. Their online classes, video intensives, and one-on-one help will help give you the skills you need to succeed. They’ll even write you a letter of recommendation and help prepare you for your first job interview.
- HVACRedu — North American Technician Excellence is one of the largest certification boards for the HVAC industry. HVACRedu provides NATE certification training in a fully online environment.
Once you’ve received your education, you’ll want to take your knowledge and skills to the next level. There are several certification boards that serve the HVAC community. The most popular are presented below.
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) — ASHRAE covers several construction areas beyond just HVAC certification. For each one, they offer remote proctoring so you can complete your certification online. The society also provides training courses to aid in the completion of their certifications.
- EPA Refrigerant Certification — Several years back, regulations were put into place by the Environmental Protection Agency that required technicians who work with certain refrigerants to become certified in how to safely use them. As a result, EPA certification is a requirement for any job where you’ll be using those refrigerants.
- HVAC Excellence — Founded in 1994 to help raise the bar of quality in HVAC technicians, HVAC Excellence sets standards and provides certification for a number of HVAC-related subjects. Their certifications start at basic high school-level vocational training and move up to more advanced topics.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE) — We’ve discussed NATE briefly already when we covered their certification partner, HVACRedu. NATE offers four certification programs, starting with a ready-to-work test and moving all the way up to a senior-level efficiency exam.
There are a number of valuable membership organizations to support commercial contractors, HVAC workers, electrical workers, and mechanical contractors. These groups offer ongoing education, training, and events to help you learn, network, and further your career.
- Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) — ABC is a national construction industry trade association representing more than 21,000 members. They offer a variety of education and training courses, including the accredited STEP program for safety certification.
- National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) — NECA’s educational programs keep you at the forefront of the electrical contracting industry. With programs on a wide range of topics as well as licensing requirements by state, NECA has both your professional growth and your company’s future covered.
- ELECTRI — ELECTRI is the non-profit branch of NECA focused on research, education, providing scholarships and Talent Initiative Programs for NECA Chapters.
- Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) — IEC provides education and outreach to its non-union membership to foster relationships and prepare for successful careers in the electrical profession. They offer a multitude of resources for workforce development, such as PEP, ACE, CPC, OSHA Compliance, and more.
- Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) — MCAA provides its members with high-quality educational materials and programs to help them attain the highest level of managerial and technical expertise. It also includes subgroups of which you can be a part depending on your industry focus — for instance, contractors that focus heavily on commercial service would benefit from joining Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA).
As with any technical field, there’s always more to learn and people to connect with. This industry really leans in to knowledge-sharing and helping each other out, and that’s what makes conferences and trade shows so valuable. These (usually) live events remain a great way to stay up-to-date on best practices, new technology available, and new ways of doing old jobs. There are several big shows still to come in 2021, and a whole new batch planned for next year.
- AHR Expo — AHR Expo is where manufacturers, distributors, technology providers, and contractors of all sizes and specialties come together to share ideas, network, discuss the latest trends, and showcase the future of HVACR technology. The live event is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas in early 2022.
- PHCCCONNECT — Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association’s annual event is set for Fall 2021 in the city of builders, doers, and change makers – Kansas City, Missouri. They have a packed schedule of keynote speakers that specialize in construction, developing leaders, and business management.
- NECA 2021 — The NECA Show, presented by National Electrical Contractors Association, is one of the top events for power, light, controls, energy, and communications technology. This year’s event is getting back together in person in Nashville from October 9 to October 12, and will host a virtual solution for those unable to travel.
- ICE Convention & Expo — The ICE Convention & Expo is four days of adventure and unique networking opportunities, exploring new and innovative products, technology, and education from well-respected industry thought leaders. This year’s event will be held in Denver, Colorado from October 6 to October 9.
- MSCA Connect National Conference — The MSCA Annual Educational Conference taking place in Scottsdale, AZ, is scheduled for October 2021. This year’s event will cover current issues and trends in service and service sales management, personnel, finance, marketing, training and recruiting.
- Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute — AHRI has several meetings throughout the year, each serving different interests within the HVAC industry. The locations change every year, though many are virtual in 2021 due to COVID-19.
- International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration Natural Refrigeration Conference & Expo — The upcoming IIAR Natural Refrigeration Conference is the 50th anniversary of the event. This year, it takes place online from June 21 to June 25.
You always hear about field service management software (we know a good one), accounting systems, and one-off communication tools for techs in the field. But have you heard of these other helpful on-the-job apps?
- HVAC Buddy — The charging and diagnostics app by HVAC Buddy provides a useful set of calculators for determining superheat, subcooling, and airflow targets.
- HVAC Refrigerant PT — This handy app by CyberProdigy provides pressure and temperature charts for different refrigerants. It will also give you various other physical properties for the refrigerants and allow you to choose the units those properties are displayed in.
- HVAC Practice Tests — There are several apps to help you practice for your HVAC test on both Google Play and Apple App Store. Because certification is so important to your career, it’s a good idea to try a few of these out to test your knowledge before your exam.
BuildOps is proud to partner with many of the aforementioned organizations that can aid you in your HVAC career. If you’re looking to up your game as a commercial contractor, we’d love to show you how BuildOps’ all-in-one operational platform can help you do just that. To see it for yourself, request a free demo today.