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Learning HVACR Part 7

Beyond the process of enrolling in a formal HVACR training program in either a proprietary school, community college or university, or participating in a union-sponsored apprentice program, there is OJT. And, certainly, there’s something to be said for On-The-Job training in any craft. As I’ve said before, learning the fundamentals of refrigeration and electrical principles, air flow and mechanical principles, etc…is really only the beginning to achieving journeyman status as an HVACR service technician; being an effective troubleshooter, completing repairs and part replacement in an effective manner, providing professional customer service, and…. generating revenue for either yourself or your employer.

Yes, that’s really the bottom line in the process of learning HVACR, just as it is in any craft. Even if a technician works in facility maintenance, such as a hospital, school, or other commercial building, in the end, it comes down to the ability of any employer to be able to generate revenue in some fashion (fees or taxes), and covering costs of operation, which includes paying technicians. And, no, I’m not talking about money and greed here. I said….revenue….there’s a difference.

The question I often get in regard to OJT is whether or not some one can skip the formal education process and just learn on the job. In my opinion, no. That is, unless the organization you’re working with has found a way to make sure that every service call or other work experience you have will fit into a strict A to Z building block process that is sequential, building from the fundamentals and on through advanced concepts. From time to time, when somebody asks me what I do, and I tell them I’m in HVACR, the response I often get is, “Oh yeah, I was in air conditioning for a while,” and, often, it turns out that the individual was involved in a strictly OJT experience.

I’m not saying OJT isn’t a learning experience, because it is, whether you’ve been in the business for only a year, or if you look around you and realize that you’ve been in the business longer than some of the people you work with have been on the planet. My point is that without a good understanding of the fundamentals, the OJT just isn’t always effective. I’ve seen technicians who have been in the business for more than a decade, and still can’t really and truly read and interpret a schematic diagram, or make the most logical judgment as to the next step in evaluating a refrigeration system according to the pressures they’re reading on their gauges, because they were strictly OJT. Having 20 years of OJT doesn’t always count for as much as some might think it does. Rather than being 20 years of experience, it could be one year of experience twenty times over.

Of course, since I’m sure that anything is possible, someday I’ll meet somebody who has not had one lick of formal education in regard to the theory of operation of refrigeration systems, air flow, or electrical principles, and is functioning just fine in their job.

Until next week….

Learn from yesterday….Live for today….Look forward to tomorrow