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The average annual temperature in San Diego is slightly over 64 degrees, and fluctuates only slightly--less than seven degrees warmer or cooler, on average, in any given month. For the most part, people living there can maintain a comfortable temperature in their homes by simply opening and closing their windows. Of course, the United States is made up almost entirely of people who don't live in San Diego, and nearly all of them live in a less temperate climate, subject to much greater extremes of heat and cold. This is bad news for those paying the utility bills to heat and cool their homes, but good news for those in the heating, ventilating, air conditioning (HVAC) industry.

HVAC Career Options

As long as the nation continues to rely on heating and cooling systems to regulate their indoor climate (which will likely be forever), HVAC personnel will have job security. HVAC professionals install, maintain, and repair heating and cooling systems. Many also are trained to install and repair refrigeration systems, as air conditioning and refrigeration equipment operates in a similar way. Working with refrigeration and cooling systems requires specialized training in the handling of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants, which are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

With virtually all new homes and buildings being built with centralized heating and cooling systems, HVAC and refrigeration technicians can expect continued growth in demand. Demand for refrigeration systems in the food service, healthcare, and other industries also remains steady. An online degree or certification is a convenient and affordable way to start your career in this industry.

HVAC Training Programs

You can begin training for a career as an HVAC or refrigeration technician in high school vocational programs, at technical schools or community colleges, and in the armed forces. Instruction is also available through online HVAC technician degree and certification programs. All of these options can provide you with the background you need to get your foot in the door, either as an assistant to an experienced HVAC or refrigeration technician or as an apprentice, which will give you the needed experience to become proficient in the field.

Unlike workers in many trade industries, HVAC and refrigeration technicians can earn a bachelor's degree in their field. Coursework includes mechanical systems, refrigeration, and heating and cooling systems. In some states you may need to be licensed to work as an HVAC or refrigeration technician, and EPA certification is required to work with refrigerants.

Career Outlook for HVAC Technicians

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 9 percent job growth rate in the coming decade for this industry, which is on pace with the job market as a whole. HVAC and refrigeration mechanics and installers earned an average of $40,630 in 2007.

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