Manufacturing, machining, and other trade careers are in high demand. Skilled trades like these, including those carried out by mechanics, electricians, and HVAC technicians, are also highly valued in 2023. Even as the economy ebbs and flows, there will always be a need for skilled labor and specialized trade professionals. It’s no surprise, then, that more and more students are choosing to pursue trade school instead of earning a four-year college degree.
According to The Atlantic, “Many jobs now require specialized training in technology that bachelor’s programs are usually too broad to address.” This dynamic is triggering many students to go back to school, spending more time and money on vocational education after completing their initial college degree. Others, however, are starting from scratch in a short-term, tech-focused, and career-driven program.
Common pathways for trades careers include mechanic training, manufacturing technology programs, machining certificates, electrician apprenticeships, and HVAC school. These fields – spanning the skilled trades industry – typically do not require a four-year degree. They solely require practical training and knowledge in the specialization.
Perhaps you are here now because you are considering attending HVAC school over a traditional college education. The field of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) offers a secure career path for those who desire to work with their hands and with advanced technology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC careers can expect job stability over the next decade, and a comfortable salary of about $48,630 annually.
Consider these benefits alongside the fact that HVAC training only takes, on average, about one year to complete. Depending on the school, however, some training programs can be completed in six months, while others can take up to two years to complete. In general, however, these programs are designed to get you into a career relatively fast, without requiring commitment to a traditional college education. You can typically find HVAC programs at technical/trade schools, as well as some community colleges.
What Do You Learn in an HVAC Training Program?
HVAC technicians, also known as HVAC mechanics or installers, work on the heating, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings. These technicians can be found installing, cleaning, repairing, inspecting, and testing the HVAC systems as part of their day-to-day role. HVAC technicians must have a strong mechanical aptitude, attention-to-detail, and problem-solving skills. These skills are also valued in other manufacturing, machining, and production settings.
Trade schools with an HVAC program will offer you specific skills training in this line of work. You will learn practical techniques in areas like electrical wiring, blueprint reading, thermodynamics, appliance repair, gas safety, refrigeration, climate control systems, energy efficiency, and more. Knowledge of these topics will be expected upon your entry into an HVAC technician career.
The beauty of HVAC training is that it can set you up for a successful career in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. The downside of these programs, however, is that they are not super versatile or applicable to other fields, if you decide that HVAC isn’t the long-term goal for you. If your heart is in HVAC, attending a career-focused HVAC program is a great move to ensure you develop the skills for success. However, if you are interested in exploring other areas of mechanics and installation in the future, or wish to grow your role beyond that of the HVAC technician, you may explore alternative options where you can gain a broader knowledge of manufacturing, machining, and mechanics.
What is an Alternative to HVAC School?
Trade schools with HVAC programs offer career-centric classes and training. They do not offer generalized education courses, and therefore are quick to complete. Trade schools only offer diplomas and certificates in HVAC, and credits from these programs typically do not transfer to other institutions.
If you are considering HVAC as well as mechanic school or machining school more broadly, then you may explore alternative options where there is more room for growth in this profession. For example, attending a career-focused college – with fast-paced, career-centric certificate programs – can offer benefits beyond the traditional trade school environment.
For example, in Goodwin’s manufacturing and machining school, students gain career-focused training as well as broader skills in critical thinking, ethics, and communication—making them highly-valued and versatile employees. Career-focused colleges also enable students to expand their education beyond the certificate level, if desired, with upper-level degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s level.
Best of all, career-focused colleges and universities have connections with local businesses, providing direct opportunities for students to explore their career interests in the real world. Goodwin students, for example, can complete hands-on, practical internship experiences with local manufacturers and mechanics throughout the state of Connecticut. They can also secure great jobs locally after graduation, with the help of these partnerships and our career services team.
So, you may be wondering, which alternative program aligns best with the HVAC career path?
We’d recommend considering the Certificate in Metrology, CNC Machining, and Manufacturing Technology at Goodwin University. Like an HVAC training program, this offers a short timeline to a successful career and can be completed at an accelerated pace – just five months! The program is highly career-focused, with courses covering topics such as:
- Technical drawings and specifications
- Manufacturing mathematics
- Computer numerical control machining
- Metrology and calibration
- Lean manufacturing principles
- CAM software applications
- Materials and processes in manufacturing
This is just the start of this fast-track, technology-driven program. Students gain an in-depth understanding of machining, technical specifications, and manufacturing principles that can be applied to a variety of industrial specializations, from HVAC to mechanics and beyond.
Other options you might consider, as an aspiring mechanic or technician, include:
- Industrial service technician certificate
- Robotics and automation technician certificate
- Computer-aided design (CAD) certificate
- Certified production technician certificate
- Welding certificate
- Associate degree in CNC Machining
- Associate degree in Quality Management Systems
- Bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Management (for those looking to become leaders)
Pursuing an alternative HVAC education, at a reputable manufacturing and machining school, can provide you with more skillsets, more networking connections, and more support services as you begin your career in the skilled trades industry. All this can add up to more room for growth, preparing you for careers beyond the entry-level.
If you desire to learn more about the various alternatives to HVAC school at Goodwin University, please do not hesitate to reach out. You may call Admissions at 800-889-3282 to learn more. You may also visit us online to request more information about our advanced manufacturing technology program.