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What is HVACR?

This is an acronym for the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration industry (pronounced H-V-A-C-R). You will sometimes hear people refer to HVAC (pronounced H-vak) without the “R” for refrigeration included: for clarification we choose to include it. This is the industry that designs, builds, installs, maintains and repairs essential indoor heating and cooling systems. It is also sometimes referred to as the mechanical industry because it focuses on a group of mechanical systems (heating + ventilation+ air conditioning + refrigeration) that together make up the total indoor climate system.

Do I need training to enter this industry?

Career paths are as varied as the job opportunities. While some positions require a secondary school education many require post-secondary training, including apprenticeship, certification, a diploma or a degree. The career paths are as diverse as the career opportunities available.

What is Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is a system that is based on a mentorship and on-the-job training that result in certification in a trade. Based on the labour needs of industry, apprenticeship involves a formal agreement between employees who want to secure a career in the trade by learning the skill sets required by employers (and Unions) who need skilled workers.

Under the terms of the Canadian Constitution, each province and territory has the responsibility for apprenticeship and trades training. The primary sources of information about apprenticeship are the provincial/territorial government Departments or Ministries responsible for education, training or labour. View the list and links to contact relevant branches in your area. View Provincial and Territorial Departments and Contacts list and links to contact relevant branches in your area.

What is Apprenticeship training?

Apprenticeship training is the formal system of training in which the employee learns the skills of a trade while employed in the trade and building a career. Apprenticeship training is a great way to learn job skills while earning money

Apprentices (who are employees) spend approximately 85% of their time working on the job (varies for each trade), learning the knowledge and skills of the trade from a certified journeyperson (an expert in the trade). This practical training is reinforced with periods of theoretical training at a post-secondary college or approved technical institute. Provincial regulations set out the details of the program including compensation levels and allowable ratios of apprentices to journeypersons. View contact information on some training providers in your area by following this link or search for Canadian post-secondary education options in the CEGEPs, Colleges and Universities Search tool.

How do Apprenticeships work?

Apprenticeships are provincially mandated and financed systems that bind together employees, employers, unions and governments in a “contract”. Apprenticeships are offered by an employer (including unions) in a trade to an employee. To be eligible for apprenticeship training you must be employed in the trade. Once you are employed, you and your employer can submit the paper work and register. There are pre-apprenticeship type courses available through a number of different providers that those unable to secure employment prior to apprenticeship can take to make themselves more attractive for apprenticeship.

What is Pre-Apprenticeship training?

Pre-apprenticeship programs vary by trade and province/territory, but are generally meant to provide some basic knowledge of the trade prior to working in the industry on the job.

How long are Apprenticeships?

It depends on experience and education while working in the field, what type of apprenticeship you are looking at and the province where you live.  For example, in Ontario the Residential Air Conditioning Mechanic Apprenticeship is 4500 hours in length over 2.25 years and Sheet Metal Worker Apprenticeship is usually 9000 hours in length over 4.5 years. Each province or territory has the responsibility for their own apprenticeships and training.

In Apprenticeship what does “red seal” mean?

Certification standards in one province/territory are not always recognized in another. In most trades, those apprentices that have completed their training and holders of provincial/territorial Journeyperson Certificate of Qualification can challenge an Interprovincial Standards "Red Seal" examination.

If successful, a "Red Seal" is attached to a provincial/territorial Journeyperson Certificate of Qualification. Workers at the journeyperson level are then qualified to work in their trade in any participating province/territory without having to write further trade examinations or undertake additional training. To learn more about red seal trades visit the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program .

Are all career paths in HVACR linked to Apprenticeship?

No. There are apprenticeships and some recognized apprenticeships that are Red Seal Trades but there are also other paths to take. CAD Design, architecture and building technologies, environmental engineering technologies, sales and marketing are all non-apprenticeship directions to take. View the Pick a Career Section for a sample of some of  the opportunities in the industry and view the HVACR Job Board listings for some of the positions currently available.

How can I find a list of Post-secondary colleges and universities or approved training facilities?

Visit CEGEPs, Colleges and Universities Search tool or follow this link to view a list of some post-secondary technical institutions in your province .

How can I be sure there will be opportunities and a job for me in HVACR?

The HVACR industry is a stable one. No matter what the economy, people will still need to control their indoor environment. Heating and cooling systems help regulate temperature, humidity and air quality in residential homes, commercial locations and industrial facilities. Many items such as food and medicine require refrigeration to keep them from spoiling.

As the focus on improved energy efficiency and conservation continues, HVACR will continue to grow in all areas. There will be continued technological advancements in systems as the demand will continue to find ways to conserve more and more energy. The result of new technologies will be increased installations as old systems are replaced with new ones. Maintenance and service concerns will increase as people and businesses focus on keeping their systems running optimally.

If I worked in the HVACR industry where would I work? What would I do?

The places where someone in this industry could work are as diverse as the career opportunities. From inside sales and marketing of equipment to installation and maintenance of equipment to projects for office towers, arenas and homes are just a few.

What would I do?

There is lots of choice! People in this industry have careers in some of the following areas:

  • Contractors/Business Owners combine technical and entrepreneurial skills to communicate and assess customer needs and recommend appropriate technical solutions.
  • Service Technicians install, maintain and repair indoor environment equipment that provides comfort and essential cooling processes both in homes and workplaces.
  • Designers use sophisticated CAD (Computer Aided Design) techniques and technical knowledge to design and maintain indoor environment systems.
  • Sales and Marketing experts rely on creativity to sell and market indoor environment systems to businesses and homeowners.
  • Engineers ensure that indoor environment products are built to, and perform to, specification before, during and after they are built and installed.
  • Research and Development professionals work on constantly improving heating and cooling equipment, and rating and testing new models.
  • Inspectors ensure that standards and regulations are adhered to as stated by local codes or government agencies.

Check out more detailed possibilities and find out why the HVACR industry is right for YOU!  Learn more about where you could work and a career path for your future as you explore career profiles in the “Pick a Career Section”. Check out some current industry related positions at www.plumbingandhvacrjobs.ca.

What about new opportunities in this industry?

Today there are more opportunities than ever before. Rising energy costs, indoor air quality and environmental concerns are contributing factors in raising awareness of the cost of energy and the need for increased energy efficient environmental system designs, equipment and maintenance. The HVACR industry is a natural extension of this concern and new technologies mean that the opportunities continue to grow with the industry!

I have a special question I don’t see here. Who do I contact?

For help with individual questions, send a note to hvacrcareers@hrai.ca and you will be sent an individual response.