We know what you’re thinking: “What the heck is a PTAC? Is it as cool as blockchain or artificial intelligence?” We thought the same thing. And, as it turns out, the answer is: yes, it’s pretty cool (after all, PTACs are basically air conditioners).
A Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner (often abbreviated PTAC) is a self-contained climate control system commonly found in hotels, motels, hospitals, and apartment buildings. Many are designed to go through a wall, having vents and heat sinks both inside and outside. PTAC systems are considered a part of HVAC (which stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning).
The spaces where we live, work and play often have their environment regulated by some type of HVAC system. The goal is to provide thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality. HVAC system design is a sub-discipline of mechanical engineering, based on the principles of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer.
The HVAC industry is a hidden gem in STEM technology, as well as a highly desirable skilled trade. “If you’re smart and willing to work hard, you’re going to be in high demand and make great money,” says Brian Hess, branch manager of the northern Nevada office for Norman S. Wright Mechanical Equipment, representing HVAC manufacturers from around the world.
The job of an HVAC technician requires a mechanically-inclined person to build, install, modify and/or repair HVAC and PTAC units, which means learning and understanding how HVAC systems work. Hess says that in addition to critical thinking and problem solving skills, HVAC technicians need to have people skills. “They have to be able to talk to customers and look them in the eye,” he says. “And they have to be computer-savvy. It’s not just enough to know how to repair the systems anymore.”
Hess shared on the Nevada STEM Hub that there is a serious shortage of technicians in this field — and that demand continues to rise, creating serious opportunities for people interested in HVAC as a career. Not only is demand high, but this is one field that is relatively recession-proof. No matter what happens in the economy, it’s vital that our HVAC systems run efficiently. And these are jobs that cannot easily be outsourced to machines — or to China.
Here are just a few reasons to consider a career in HVAC:
- Jobs are everywhere: With the right education and skillset, you’ll be able to work anywhere in the world. “People in this field can work as much as they want,” he shares. “And they can work wherever they want. This shortage [of technicians] is happening everywhere.”
- Jobs are plentiful: According to ExploreTheTrades.com, much of the job growth is because of new technology combined with a focus on more environmental solutions. According to the group’s website: “Older HVAC equipment is far less efficient than today’s models, costing consumers more money to run, offering less comfort and also taking a larger toll on the environment. In an effort to ‘go green’ while saving money and providing better comfort levels for their homes and workplaces, consumers are making the change to newer HVAC systems… With projections of system installations and maintenance on the rise, HVAC techs will be busier than ever.”
- Education can happen quickly: Hess says the fastest route to success is to earn a certificate and then start an apprenticeship program for a union or an HVAC company. Many trade schools and community colleges also offer technician training, much of which can be completed in less than a year.
- There is money to be made: “After a four-year apprenticeship, someone can come out as a journeyman making $75,000 a year,” Hess says. “And that’s at 22 or 23 years old.” Overtime pay is also a real possibility, particularly during extreme temperatures. ExploreTheTrades.com shares that the HVAC industry is projecting a pay increase of up to 40 percent in the next few years.
All of this opportunity does come with its challenges. “You’re fixing the problem, so you might be up on a roof in 100 degrees or outside in freezing temperatures,” Hess says. “You might be working in cramped spaces. And non-traditional hours are common.”
The bottom line? These are good jobs, in high demand, and offering plentiful opportunity for people who are willing to work hard in extreme environments.
PTAC Crew Scholarship
Are you pursuing a career in heating, ventilation and air conditioning? Are you enrolled in an HVAC program at a vocational or technical school? If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, you’re invited to apply for the PTAC Crew HVAC Scholarship.
About the scholarship
- PTAC Crew will award $1,500 to one student, either currently attending or planning to attend a vocational or technical school.
- The scholarship program will begin accepting applications June 1, 2019.
- The deadline for receiving applications is August 1, 2019 and the winner will be chosen within 60 days following the deadline.
- One scholarship recipient will be chosen from the pool of applicants.
- Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Applicants must meet the following criteria
- Be registered student at a vocational or technical college in the United States for the 2019-2020 school year.
- Be enrolled in an HVAC or HVAC-related program.
- Students with full academic scholarships are not eligible to enter.
- Applicants must completely fill out the form at ptaccrew.com/scholarship.
- Random aside: Please mention “jellyfish” somehow when submitting your application.
To apply, you’ll need to write a 500-1,000 word essay on two of the following three topics:
- How would this scholarship impact you and what would it mean for your career?
- Do you think PTACs will still be the primary heating and cooling device in hotel rooms across the United States in 2069, why or why not?
- What are some of your core values and why do you believe in these?
To learn more about the scholarship, visit the PTAC Crew website at the link below: