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How to Become an HVAC Technician

HVAC Technician

A shortage of skilled labor in the construction industry makes this an ideal time to get the training and experience you need to become an HVAC technician. HVAC technicians work on a variety of project types, work on many HVAC  system types, and are vital to the success of construction projects. HVAC training is not overly expensive, and you can quickly begin making money.

What does an HVAC technician do?

First things first, HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. A similar acronym, HVAC/R, adds refrigeration. HVAC and HVAC/R technicians work on heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. They perform a variety of duties, including:

  • Installing and repairing HVAC equipment
  • Troubleshooting equipment operation
  • Inspecting HVAC systems
  • Maintaining HVAC equipment
  • Checking fluid levels
  • Replacing filters
  • Cleaning ductwork
  • Handling and disposing of hazardous fluids and gases (refrigerant)

Technicians work in a variety of environments, depending on the location of the equipment. They may specialize in commercial or residential systems. Since every building has an HVAC system, there’s no limit to where a technician may work.

Requirements to Become an HVAC Technician

Here’s a summarized content on the requirements to become an HVAC technician, based on the information from the BestColleges website:

  1. Complete High School: A high school or GED diploma is essential. High school students can prepare by taking classes in shop, math, and physics.
  2. Enroll in an Apprenticeship or Training Program: Obtain HVAC technology training through an apprenticeship for on-the-job experience, or attend a community college or vocational school. These programs often lead to a certificate or an associate degree.
  3. Earn a License: Many states require HVAC technicians to be licensed. This typically involves showing proof of work experience and liability insurance, and passing an exam. Requirements vary by state.
  4. Gain Certification: Depending on the state and specialty, some certifications may be required. Common certifications include the Section 608 certification through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and R-410A certification. Technicians working with refrigerants must obtain EPA certification.

These steps provide a pathway to becoming a skilled HVAC technician, ready to work in a field that’s experiencing growth and demand.

Do HVAC technicians need to be licensed?

Most states require HVAC technicians and subcontractors to become licensed, which requires passing one or more tests. Make sure you know the requirements for the state you’ll be working in.

There is one test that every technician will need to take, no matter where they work. The EPA Section 608 Technician Certification certifies technicians that will be working with refrigerants. There are four levels of HVAC technician certification:

  • Small appliances (Type I)
  • High-pressure appliances, except small appliances and MVACs (Type II)
  • Low-pressure appliances (Type III)
  • All types of equipment (Universal)

To get the EPA certification, you must complete an open-book test.

How Long Does It Take to Become an HVAC Technician?

  • Certificate Programs: These can be completed in as few as 9-10 months.
  • Associate Degree: Earning an associate degree in air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology typically takes up to two years.
  • Apprenticeships: Offered through unions and companies, these programs can last between 2-5 years.
  • State Licensure Requirements: In states where licensure is required, HVAC technicians often need to show 2-6 years of work or apprenticeship experience.

HVAC schooling is very important.The duration to become an HVAC technician varies depending on the educational path and state requirements, but it generally ranges from less than a year for certificate programs to several years for apprenticeships and meeting licensure requirements. In summary, there are different methods for HVAC technician training.

How much can an HVAC technician make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, HVAC technicians made approximately $48,000 a year or $23 an hour.

Salaries and benefits are based on a variety of factors, including technician career experience, education, location, and the type of HVAC industry project.

HVAC technicians can work for building owners, property managers, mechanical contractors, and service companies, or they can work for themselves as an independent HVAC contractor.

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How to become an HVAC technician

  1. Technicians must have a high school diploma or GED. During high school, it helps to take classes that involve developing mechanical skills.
  2. There are two paths you can take to gain the industry-specific knowledge and skills required to become an HVAC technician: education or apprenticeship. HVAC certificate programs can be completed in six months to a year. An associate degree takes approximately two years, and a bachelor’s degree four years. HVAC education programs teach students about equipment and systems, system controls, and tools. You can register for an apprenticeship program directly out of high school or after completing a certificate or degree program. Apprenticeships usually last 3 to 5 years and include education and on-the-job training. In many programs, you can earn money while you learn. At the end of your apprenticeship program, you will be a journeyman HVAC technician.
  3. Depending on the state you will be working in, you may need to get licensed. This involves passing one or more tests to gauge your knowledge and skills. Once you have a state license, you can go to work for a company as a technician or start your own contracting business.

Are there online HVAC technician programs?

Yes, there are online HVAC technician programs. Most online programs consist of online classroom instruction followed by hands-on, real-world experience.

How much does it cost to become an HVAC technician?

HVAC technician certification programs typically range in cost from $1,200 to $15,000. The higher-priced programs often encompass extra features such as a toolkit and the expenses related to exam fees. The duration of these certification programs is generally between 6 to 12 months.

As a technician, you can continue your education to further take leadership in construction and specialize your skills. If this sounds interesting to you, visit PlanHub. As you gain more knowledge, you will earn more money and be in demand. In today’s market, the HVAC technician job outlook is positive for this career.

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