Technical Training and Certification in the HVAC/R Industry


Physicians have their board exams. Lawyers, realtors and other professionals also have tests to measure their skill levels. Leaders at the United Association (UA), a multi-craft union representing service and piping technicians in the HVAC/R fields, believed that their industry needed a similar testing standard. As a result, the UA star certification program was born.

“UA service technicians receive state-of-the-art training, and this program identifies those with the highest degree of proficiency,” said Donald House, UA director of HVACR Service. “Plus, the program has been recognized by major standard-accrediting organizations and requires a solid base of education or work experience. UA STAR certification offers end-users the best of the best.”

Officially known as the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipefitting and Sprinklerfitting Industry of the United States and Canada, UA developed its certification program in conjunction with Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich., which has a prominent history of vocational education.

In fact, the new Granger Center , developed for the school by Detroit-based A/E Albert Kahn Assocs., has been described as a “textbook for students in Ferris State's construction technology management and HVAC/R programs” and won a 2004 CSE ARC Award as one of the best projects of the year.

”The UA Star certification exam was created based on the results of a study we did with Ferris State University,” said Steven H. Allen, director of instructional technology for UA. “Ferris State interviewed service technicians nationwide and in Canada, and used the information to create a 65-page task analysis, from which the 200-question test was developed. The questions on the exam were then pilot-tested. A national cross-section of beginning, intermediate and experienced technicians took the exam, and the results of this test effort were found statistically valid by Ferris State.”

To take the UA STAR exam, a technician must have either five years of work experience or have graduated from a five-year union apprenticeship. Successful completion of the exam earns applicants32 hours of college credit toward an Associates Degree in HVAC/R technology or construction supervision from Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich. To date, over 57,000 college credits valued at over $4.2 million have been issued. Both Associate Degree programs transfer directly into Ferris State University’s Bachelor’s Degree programs. Students can complete both AA and BA degrees online.

For more information on the UA STAR certification program click here .

In other news from UA, its Local 597 has built a new Pipefitters’ Training Center in Mokena, Ill. Instructors at the center can replicate potentially dangerous work situations so apprentices can learn to perform safely under similar conditions on the job.

The center teaches welding, piping and HVAC/R service apprentices the latest technical knowledge using state-of-the-art equipment. Safety training is an integral part of the curriculum, since accident prevention is a key concern to cost-conscious construction end users.

The two-story, $15 million training center covers 198,000 sq. ft. and is set on a 21-acre site with parking for about 360 vehicles. The staff of the new educational facility includes 10 full-time and 90 part-time instructors.

For more information click here .

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