In Moraine Valley Community College's Heating and Air Conditioning program, students will prepare for entry- level positions in the heating and air conditioning service and installation industry.
This certificate program requires fewer credit hours to complete than an associate's degree. The program is intended to lead to employment. A student considering transferring to a four-year college or university to obtain a bachelor's degree using the courses from this program, should make an appointment with an academic advisor to review your options.
Nature of Work—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. For example, in central forced-air heating systems, 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 throughout 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.
Related Job Titles—Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers work with sheet metal and piping, and repair machinery such as electrical motors, compressors and burners. Other workers who have similar skills include boilermakers, home appliance repairers, electricians, sheet metal workers, pipe layers, plumbers, pipe fitters and steam fitters.
Employment OutlookJob prospects for heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers are expected to be excellent, particularly for those with training from an accredited technical school or with formal apprenticeship training, and especially in the fastest-growing areas of the country. A growing number of retirements of highly skilled technicians are expected to generate many job openings. In addition, employment of heating, air- conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to increase 28 percent during the 2008-2018 decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the population and stock of buildings grows, so does the demand for residential, commercial and industrial climate-control systems. The increased complexity of HVACR systems, increasing the possibility that equipment may malfunction, also will create opportunities for service technicians. Those who specialize in installation work may experience periods of unemployment when the level of new construction activity declines but maintenance and repair work usually remains relatively stable. Individuals and businesses depend on their climate control systems and must keep them in good working order, regardless of economic conditions.
hourly earnings of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and
installers were $19.08 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $14.94
and $24.84 an hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $12.19 and the top 10
percent earned more than $30.59. Median hourly earnings in the industries
employing the largest numbers of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration
mechanics and installers in May 2006 were: Hardware and plumbing and heating
equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers $22.18
Apprentices usually begin at about 50 percent of the wage rate paid to experienced workers. As they gain experience and improve their skills, they receive periodic increases until they reach the wage-rate of experienced workers. Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers enjoy a variety of employer-sponsored benefits. In addition to typical benefits such as health insurance and pension plans, some employers pay for work-related training and provide uniforms, company vans, and tools. About 14 percent of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers are members of a union. The unions to which the greatest numbers of mechanics and installers belong are the Sheet Metal Workers International Association and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada. Resource: U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-2011. www.bls.gov/oco
For job and internship listings and job search assistance, contact the Job Resource Center in the Center for Contemporary Technology, T904, (708) 974-5737, www.morainevalley.edu/jrc.