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Always-learning HVAC Technician Speaks Out: 'Student' Label Misleading

Feb. 19, 2014
One measure of greatness is a person who can say, "I don't know, but I'll find out." That's what all the students at are doing every day - finding out.

The HVACR training organization,, has a message to pass along: Yes, learning is for HVACR technicians of all ages, but to be always labeled a "student" can be misleading.

HVACR "students" exist at many levels of expertise, and are most likely working for you right now. Help them learn more.

Many of's students are in fact experienced HVACR technicians with 10, 20, or more years of work experience. Many are business owners or senior technicians. They earned their positions and knowledge on the job. Many learned the ropes in the family HVACR business. Some learned at a technical program or community college. What they've been telling throughout their online educational programs is, that "they didn't know what they didn't know," say sources. This eye-opening message — and the reminder that their students are not just "students" —was brought home in a letter from an experienced technician who is always learning.

Anthony Ortega — a recent North American Technician Excellence (NATE) Senior Energy Analyst Certification recipient — wrote, "I don't like to be imagined or appear to be just a student, as I'm not. . . . length and depth of quality field experience is not enough; quality continuous education and training must be present. . . . I found training very crucial or critical to becoming a real competent, excellent, or great technician."

One measure of greatness is a person who can say, "I don't know, but I'll find out." says that's what all of its online learning students do every day - find out the answers. Most of its students are already employed and busy building their HVACR careers, so it is misleading to refer to them as "students." Maybe lifelong learners would be a better term, because they are the ones who admit they don't know everything and
they're willing to dive into the coursework, read the books, do the assignments and exercises, and take the tests to acquire more knowledge. Where does a technician begin?

Finding Learning Resources in Core Knowledge Areas says that, while the aeas of knowledge related to HVACR, is indeed expansive, most technicians don't need to know it all. However, there are foundational core knowledge areas (identified by North American Technician Excellence and HVAC Excellence) that all competent technicians should know, even if they're not working toward certification. Inquiring technicians can and should take a few hours to find out what they know and what they don't. has a "Technical Core Assessment" available for even the most experienced technicians, contractors, and engineers to take online at your convenience and in the privacy of your own home or office. It is priced at only $48. After you purchase the assessment, student support personnel email your login information. You get 30 days to complete the assessments you choose - all 27 or only the 9 Core area tests, or any number in between.

The results of assessments are used to develop a personal education plan. Technicians receive an email with their scores and a recommended course of study to help them round out their "core" HVACR knowledge. Each technician's plan is customized to address the weaknesses in his knowledge. There is no obligation to enroll in the recommended courses, but if a technicians has his or her eye on excellence, says the TCA is the best first step.