Today’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians need to know more than basic electrical theory and refrigeration principles. As technology evolves, so does the need to be familiar with how smart technology is being used in HVAC systems.
Jorge Cabrera, lead instructor in TSTC’s HVAC Technology program in Harlingen, said fifth-semester students take Advanced Air Conditioning Controls, which covers building automation systems.
“This is a new course we started teaching in Harlingen,” Cabrera said. “We used to concentrate more on the residential side of the industry, but we are slowly moving to get more students into commercial air conditioning and refrigeration.”
As technology evolves, so do the skills of HVAC technicians who can receive training through outsourcing or equipment manufacturers.
“Technology has definitely changed our industry, and we try to keep up with new technologies,” Cabrera said. “Now, technicians have to know about W-Fi, and some thermostats can be controlled with a phone, computer or tablet. Technicians will have to set up these devices with the homeowners’ Wi-Fi networks.”
Cabrera said some of the tools that technicians use to troubleshoot for problems include Bluetooth technology to create reports at job sites.
Cameron County had 270 HVAC technicians in May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of jobs for HVAC mechanics and installers is projected to rise nationally to more than 414,000 through 2028, according to the agency. The growth is expected to come from residential and commercial construction.
Cabrera said workers retiring from the HVAC field also contribute to the need for new workers.
“I definitely see growth in our area,” he said. “Last summer, which is our busiest time, we kept getting calls from contractors needing people.”
TSTC’s Harlingen campus offers the Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC Technology and an HVAC technician certificate.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.