The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association will hold its second annual contest for HVAC apprentices during its annual convention in New Orleans.

Twelve contestants will compete in six categories: brazing; refrigerant recovery and identification; taking readings on a working package unit; electrical troubleshooting; basic electrical skills and wiring; and a written exam.

The contestants will also have the ability to attend PHCC Connect, the association’s annual convention, which will be held Oct. 8-10 at the New Orleans Marriott.

Last year’s winner, Tyler Plueger, a technician with Downey Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Downey, Calif., said the competition really helped his career.

“The contest really set the bar for what we should know,” he said. “And while it was a bit of an eye opener in some areas, it also helped confirm some things I already knew.”

The parts of the competition where he worked on real equipment was the most beneficial, he added.

“Hands-on is where you really learn most of your stuff,” he said. “If I had just read the book, there’s no way I could have won. It’s like being in a lab, doing recovery and troubleshooting — that was the biggest factor in helping me in this competition.”

Contest details are available at

Tyler Plueger was the winner of the 2013 PHCC Educational Foundation HVAC contest. Here he takes readings on a package unit during the skills assessment portion of last year’s competition.