Updated February 2021.
So, you're thinking about becoming an HVAC mechanic. It's a smart career path, given the excellent job outlook for HVAC mechanics across Ontario.
According to the latest Government of Canada job report, HVAC mechanics are in demand throughout the province. This trade gets 3/3 stars for growth—the Job Bank's highest rating:
"Employment in this occupation has increased in Ontario over the past several years...and will likely remain healthy over the forecast period. Repair and maintenance will create ongoing work [and] HVAC mechanics may find additional opportunities to install air handling and refrigerated systems across a range of non-residential facilities such as ice rinks, grocery stores, restaurants, and processing plants."
There are many residential and commercial job opportunities in Ontario for skilled HVAC mechanics, and demand is expected to hold steady over the next 10 years.
This is excellent news for anyone considering HVAC training. Your next step is to enrol in a quality pre-apprenticeship HVAC program.
This is where you'll get a good foundation of knowledge and skills, so you can land an HVAC apprenticeship.
Once you complete your apprenticeship, you can take a certification exam, and apply to become certified and registered as a journeyperson in the HVAC trade.
So, what exactly will you learn in pre-apprenticeship HVAC training? Here's a look at the 7 most important skills you'll walk away with.
1. Knowledge of HVAC systems
HVAC training will give you a solid grounding in a range of HVAC products and systems. You'll learn about installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting for:
- air conditioning (evaporators, compressors, condensers, etc.)
- refrigeration tools, equipment, processes, and components
- heating and humidification systems
- space heaters and decorative appliances
- duct systems
You'll also study the building as a system—and how building design relates to things like humidity, heat, air flow, and energy conservation.
At this point, you'll be able to recommend some simple measures to actually reduce energy waste and save money, for new builds and renovations.
This is key, because of rising demand for more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. Ontario buildings need to meet energy standards—and there's growing interest in alternative products, like geothermal systems and heat-recovery ventilators.
You'll learn about some of the latest products and techniques in HVAC training.
2. Basics of electricity
You need a basic grasp of electrical concepts and systems to start your career in HVAC.
During training, you'll study circuits, learn how to measure current and voltage, how to check the power supply to HVAC units, and work with fuses, breakers, and GFCIs.
Basically, you'll get experience troubleshooting common electrical problems in HVAC systems—using the correct testing equipment and safety precautions.
3. Gas Technician 3 and 2 training
Gas technician training is a crucial part of your pre-apprenticeship HVAC program. You need to know how to safely install and service gas appliances—like propane/natural gas refrigerators and boilers.
You also need training on gas meters, tanks, cylinders, relief valves, pressure regulators, and venting practices.
HVAC courses start with Gas Technician level 3 training, and then progress to G2. So, you'll be prepared to challenge the G2 TSSA exam by the end of the program. You need this certification to compete for good jobs in HVAC.
"Employers often require a Gas Technician licence at the G2 level because of the high usage of natural gas to heat homes and other buildings."
- Government of Canada Job Bank Outlook Report (HVAC)
4. ODP training
Some HVAC employers also require an Ozone Depletion Prevention (ODP) Certificate. This certificate proves you are legally allowed to handle refrigerants used in air conditioners and refrigerators.
You need an Ozone Depletion Prevention (ODP) certificate card to legally purchase and handle refrigerants in Ontario.
To get the card, you take a 1-day training course, earn a grade of at least 75%, and pay a fee (learn more here).
Your HVAC training will introduce you to the different types of refrigerants, and explain the impact on ozone depletion and global warming.
You'll learn safe handling techniques, and methods for recovering refrigerants.
5. HVAC safety rules and procedures
Every employer will want their HVAC apprentices to understand job safety rules and regulations. Some will want you to have a Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Certificate.
A quality program will include in-depth training on how to keep yourself, and others safe, at work. You will study safety laws, safety organizations in Ontario, and your rights and responsibilities as an HVAC professional.
6. Customer Service
In the world of HVAC, customer service is king.
Many HVAC mechanics and technicians do home service calls (or work in sales), so communication is absolutely essential for success in this field.
Employers want HVAC apprentices who can build trust with clients, behave professionally in the field, and represent the company well.
You need people skills...the ability to listen patiently, explain politely, and put clients at ease while in their homes.
Good HVAC training always includes a unit on customer relations. You'll learn how to deal with complaints, build rapport, communicate professionally, and leave a spotless work area after service calls.
These are skills every employer will be looking for.
7. HVAC job search & interview skills
You won't find a good apprenticeship if you don't know how to use job search tools, or present yourself well on interviews.
A reliable HVAC college will provide you with comprehensive job search coaching before you finish your training. This will include things like:
- help writing your cover letter and resume
- strategies for finding jobs online, through trades organizations, CLAC, Merit Ontario, etc.
- mock interviews to build your confidence
At Herzing College, Christine Azevedo (Associate Director of Career Services) meets with every single student at the end of their training program.
She helps them put together applications, prepare for interviews, and even sends out their resumes to companies who are hiring HVAC apprentices.
If you've never worked in the trades, and don't know much about HVAC employers, this support is extremely helpful for landing your first job.
It's very important to choose a trades school that offers real career services to every student.
Ready to learn more about HVAC training?
If you want to dig deeper into HVAC training, and learn more about becoming an HVAC mechanic, we strongly suggest speaking with a qualified student advisor.
An advisor will walk you through courses, tuition, financial aid options, and class schedules. They'll tell you if you're a good fit for the program, and exactly how to get started.