If you've landed here, you're considering becoming an HVAC technician and want to explore training options in your area.
By now, you've probably realized there are many HVAC schools in the Toronto area. There are certificates, courses, diplomas, pre-apprenticeship programs, online options, and more.
How do these programs differ? What exactly should you be looking for in a quality HVAC college?
Good questions. When you consider the time and money you'll need to invest, it's worth doing the research.
Plus, getting a good foundation in training is obviously key to landing a good job (which is the whole point of going to school).
So, in this post we're laying out the 8 most important qualities of a good HVAC college. These are the features to notice when you're comparing schools and choosing where to enroll.
No matter which HVAC college you end up choosing, make sure it meets these clear standards of quality and excellence.
1. Positive track record and reputation
Ask around. Do you know anyone who's heard of the school, taken a course there, or hired a graduate?
Can you find reviews online about the HVAC program? How long has the college been in business?
When comparing HVAC colleges, take some time to look through each website and social media. Check out Google reviews. Find out how long the school has existed.
The cheapest HVAC course isn't always the best option. Don't make a decision based solely on price.
Remember: Employers won't hire graduates from an HVAC college they don't respect.
2. Comprehensive HVAC curriculum
If your goal is to become a licensed HVAC technician, you'll need to complete an apprenticeship and pass a certification exam.
How will you get that first apprenticeship job?
It all begins with comprehensive pre-apprenticeship HVAC training. The whole point of a pre-apprenticeship program is to get you hired as an apprentice.
HVAC employers don't just hire people off the street.
They want apprentices who already have hands-on HVAC skills and knowledge. A good program covers the following topics:
- Electrical Fundamentals
- Air Conditioning Systems
- Heating and Humidification Systems
- Service and Troubleshooting
- Hand and Power Tools
- Safety Protocols
- Piping and Tubing
- Gas Appliances
- Electrical and Mechanical Controls
- Gas Meters, Pressure Regulators, and Relief Valves
- Water Heaters and Combo Systems
Check the course list and ask admissions about what's covered in the HVAC program.
3. Hands-on training in a real workshop environment
Knowing your HVAC theory is just part of the equation.
Employers want workers who actually understand how HVAC systems are constructed and how parts go together.
Ensure your HVAC college has a well-equipped training workshop where students can practice installation and troubleshooting.
Darren Fearnley (HVAC instructor at Herzing College) says students must learn how to assemble units and work with tools prior to graduation. Every employer wants these skills.
"By the end of the HVAC program, students should be constructing fully operational heating and cooling systems, and have total confidence working with hand and power tools.”
4. Gas Technician training should be included
Did you know you need a Gas Technician license to become an HVAC technician? That's because many HVAC systems and units are gas-fired.
Ontario law says anyone who works with natural gas or propane-fired units must be a certified Gas Technician.
There are 3 levels of certification. Employers prefer to hire HVAC apprentices who have the Gas Technician 2 license.
It makes sense to choose an HVAC college that offers a combined HVAC and gas technician program.
You'll get two programs in one. You'll graduate with your G2 license. And you'll be better prepared for your first job.
5. An HVAC Instructor with real industry experience
Who would you rather learn from: someone with real experience in the HVAC trade, or someone who's spent most of their life in a classroom?
It's true that teaching experience matters. You want an instructor who knows how to break down technical HVAC concepts and theory.
But you also want an instructor who has worked in HVAC and really knows the trade inside-out.
A real HVAC professional will teach you exactly what to expect on a job site. They understand what employers look for in new hires. They will help you stand out and excel at your first job.
When you're looking at programs, find out about the instructor. If you don't see this information on the website, ask admissions about his/her real HVAC experience.
Bottom line? You want to learn from the best.
6. Are safety certifications included?
This is another important thing to notice when selecting an HVAC college. Make sure the training includes standard workplace safety certifications.
- Working at Heights
- Elevating Work Platforms
- Lockout & Tag Safety
- Scaffold Users’ Hazard Awareness
- Confined Spaces Hazard Awareness
Employers have to pay for their workers to get this training. If you're already certified, you're saving them money. And that makes you a better hire.
7. How good are the career support services?
A lot of trade schools promise career services. But what does that actually mean? It varies a lot from college to college.
Career services could mean posting a job board with available HVAC jobs. And that's where the support ends.
It all depends on the school and how dedicated they are to helping you get hired.
What should you look for when comparing career services at HVAC colleges? Make sure they provide most or all of the following:
- Assistance to write a professional resume and cover letter
- Coaching on how to conduct yourself during job interviews
- How to approach HVAC companies and find an apprenticeship
- Connections with local unions and skilled trades organizations
- Referrals to employers who often hire their HVAC graduates
- Calling companies on your behalf to inquire about HVAC jobs
- Online and offline job search strategies
In short, you want a real career development team who actually goes into your HVAC class and gets you ready for the job market. This should be built into your HVAC program.
8. What's the graduate employment rate?
Last, but definitely not least, find out the latest graduate employment rate for the HVAC college.
This means the percentage of graduates who actually got hired after completing the HVAC program. It's an obvious sign of quality that many students forget to ask about.
A good graduate employment rate is 80% and above. This number tells you a lot about the quality of the program, instructor, career services, and overall reputation of the HVAC school.
Can't find it on the website? Ask admissions.
Find an HVAC school that offers all the services, training, and support listed here, and you'll be in good hands.
Check out Herzing's HVAC Program
Herzing College offers a 52-week HVAC + Gas Technician program. This is a pre-apprenticeship program, designed to help you get hired as a G2 certified HVAC apprentice.
Our graduates have been hired by HVAC companies across the GTA.
Click below to explore the program. See a detailed course list, meet the instructor, and chat live with admissions. We're here to help.