While many HVAC technicians start their careers through an apprenticeship program with a local company or a union, community colleges also offer certificate and associate degrees that provide more extensive training. These programs typically last two years and teach students safety practices, connecting electrical wiring, and working with refrigerants.
The first thing a prospective HVAC technician needs to do is earn a high school diploma or GED. Then, you can complete an apprenticeship or training program at a vocational school to obtain your certificate in the field. These programs can range from 6 months to 4 years, and will lead to either a certificate or an associates or bachelor’s degree.
You can also choose to learn from books and take online courses. However, attending in-person classes is best, as they can offer mentorship opportunities and hands-on training.
Since you will be working with equipment that uses hazardous refrigerants, you must pass an EPA certification exam to get licensed. This is called a Section 608 certification and trains you how to handle these materials safely. Also, some states require a license to be an HVAC tech. You can find more information about this requirement in your state’s laws. You may also need to obtain liability insurance.
The job duties to be performed by an HVAC technician include installing, repairing and maintaining heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Other tasks might involve working on refrigeration systems and installing and removing insulation. Some technicians choose to start their careers by completing an HVAC-specific apprenticeship program. This option is typically more expensive than enrolling in a diploma or degree program at a vocational school or community college but provides hands-on training and certification.
Other workers enter the trade by applying for an entry-level position with a company and learning on the job, or they complete an HVAC apprenticeship program that lasts several years. These programs provide in-depth theoretical and business training along with practical experience. Regardless of the path chosen, all HVAC technicians need to be able to read and understand detailed technical information in order to pass any required licensing exams. They also need to have excellent verbal communication skills and be able to work well under pressure.
Requirements for Certification
There are a variety of education paths to becoming an HVAC technician. Some take classes at a vocational school, or trade schools, for about two years or complete an apprenticeship that includes on-the-job training. In either case, they learn how to read blueprints, calculate loads in British thermal units and troubleshoot commercial equipment. They also learn about safety regulations that keep them, their customers, and others in confined spaces safe.
After completing their training, they must pass an EPA Section 608 certification exam to handle refrigerants. Many cities and states require this certification to work on heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. In addition to this, they need a high-school diploma and meet any local licensing requirements. Some choose to become an independent contractor and set up their own business after gaining experience in the field. This can lead to greater earning potential and a great sense of accomplishment. They can also choose to specialize in one aspect of the industry like repair or installation.
Many people who enjoy working with their hands and learning a trade can find employment as an HVAC technician. Every climate needs heating and cooling equipment, and this profession provides opportunities to work on residential, commercial or industrial equipment. Those who become certified as professional technicians can earn high wages and work in the field they love.
This profession has many paths, from completing an apprenticeship through a trade association or union to a two-year associate degree program at a community college or technical school. Some people choose to start their own companies after years of experience, though you must be licensed by your city or town and carry workers’ compensation and liability insurance. Many employers also require a criminal background check and drug screening for employees handling refrigerants. A well-written resume can help you find HVAC technician jobs. You can upload your resume for free at Monster. We’ll send you job alerts and tips to help you land your next role.