Want To Be an HVAC Professional? Here Is All You Need To Know

Posted: August 01, 2022

HVAC systems play a significant role in any home or business. These systems make our lives easier by keeping our homes and businesses comfortable and warm. Without them, we would be living in very unfavorable conditions. HVAC mechanics install HVAC equipment such as furnaces, boilers, air conditioners, heat pumps, and refrigerators. In addition, they maintain these systems to ensure that customers can use them for a more extended period of time.

The work is challenging but rewarding because it allows you to make a difference in people's lives by providing them with comfortable homes and businesses they can enjoy year-round. If you want to become a heating, air conditioning, or refrigeration mechanic or installer, this article is for you.

HVAC Technicians: Who Are They, and What Are They Responsible For?

When it is cold, people want to cuddle close and receive warmth. They want to run and get some fresh air when it is hot. In addition to the considerations of comfort, there are a few other things that people should know about their heating and cooling systems. When one of these systems malfunctions, an HVAC technician is the first person of our contact.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technicians are professionals who can help keep buildings comfortable in the winter and relaxed during the summer. HVAC technicians install, repair, and replace HVAC systems to ensure customers get the most out of their utility bills.

HVAC technicians are in high demand, and many people are now opting to work on construction sites to make more money. Some HVAC technicians also find a place by working as a part of a general contractor’s team. This is an attractive new opportunity for HVAC technicians that can give them the chance to learn new skills and expand their resumes.

An HVAC technician is someone who repairs, installs, and services all types of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. They may also install energy-saving devices and other equipment for that particular system. An HVAC technician must have a strong understanding of electrical wiring, plumbing, gas-fueled appliances, and different mechanical approaches to ensure the safe operation of the system.

HVAC technicians are trained in all HVAC systems. Some specialize in heating and cooling systems, others in air conditioning, and still, others focus on repairing air ducts or installing new ones. A few become much more specialized in the types of work they take on as their career progresses.

repair building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. They use their knowledge of maintaining and repairing these systems to help keep homes comfortable during the cold winter months or save energy during the hot summer days.

Here’s How to Become an HVAC Technician

This guide will give you everything you'll need to know to become an HVAC technician. It'll cover the best ways to get into the industry, what employers are looking for, and how much you can expect to make.

The Skills HVAC Technicians Have

When it comes to keeping your house comfortable in the winter and summer, HVAC professionals play a critical role on the team. They must be familiar with the operation of HVAC systems, the parts required, and the proper methods for replacement. To lift, transport, and repair huge machinery, it is necessary to have technical expertise, a meticulous personality, and the required physical fitness.

HVAC technicians are a unique breed of tradesmen who excel in the fast-paced, challenging, and sometimes dangerous world of HVAC repairs. These technicians are responsible for maintaining buildings' and homes' temperature and humidity levels. However, a career as an HVAC technician requires more than just technical skills. A successful HVAC technician must be able to think, problem-solve, prioritize, and organize. 

HVAC technicians are responsible for maintaining and repairing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. By working round the clock, they ensure that every single building can maintain a comfortable temperature. HVAC technicians have various skills to repair and maintain different systems.

 An effective HVAC technician needs to be able to communicate directly and have excellent people skills. HVAC service professionals may also need to sell service contracts to their clients and have the technical expertise and manual dexterity. HVAC specialists must persuade the client that repairs are required in that situation.

 The Roles and Responsibilities of HVAC Professionals

 The two most important prerequisites for becoming an HVAC technician are technical training and education.

Most HVAC professionals complete at least some specialized training before starting their jobs. Most HVAC technicians today start their careers by enrolling in classes at a technical college or community college. While more extended programs can run for up to two years and lead to an associate degree, shorter programs may last six months and grant an HVAC technician certificate. HVAC technicians can start preparing for this kind of training in high school by enrolling in math, physics, and shop classes.

Before an HVAC technician starts working, they must provide professional licensing after completing formal training. Contact the state HVAC licensing authority to learn about regional certification needs. But certain licenses may depend on particular tasks. Specifically, any professional dealing with refrigerants (such as CFCs and HCFCs) must have the necessary training to manage and properly dispose of these dangerous compounds, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Small appliances, low-pressure systems, high-pressure systems, or a universal certification that entitles them to deal with all refrigerant systems are among the specializations available to HVAC technicians. These types of licensure tests are given by several independent businesses and can be taken online.

 HVAC Technician Career, Education, And Certification

In general, there is a rising need for HVAC professionals. Between 2020 and 2030, the demand for all HVAC specialists is anticipated to grow by 5%, creating over 19,000 new job vacancies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021). But this is a little slower than the typical projected rise for all professions over the same ten years (8 percent).

While there are several ways to become a qualified HVAC technician, some opt to gain experience by completing an apprenticeship or receiving on-the-job training. Other people could enroll in approved HVAC programs to better prepare for the challenging work environment.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, HVAC technicians must have training from vocational schools, relevant work experience, or an associate's degree (ONET 2022).

Some HVAC professionals will start their careers right out of college. This can occasionally take the form of an apprenticeship with an accomplished HVAC technician. In general, additional on-the-job training is necessary after some formal education.

HVAC professionals' career paths usually alter after one to three years of employment. At that time, several tests and credentials are offered that can lead to more specialized work.

Although an HVAC technician is not required to join national associations, several provide professional support and certifications. North American Technician Excellence (NATE), one of the most well-known testing companies, offers Industry Competency Exams (commonly referred to as ICE) in installation and service specializations. Other HVAC organizations, such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), the Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International, and the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), sponsor and recognizes these exams (HARDI).

Many HVAC professionals obtain advanced HVAC certificates, but they are not necessary. Advanced HVAC qualifications might be appealing to potential employers as well as clients. For work advancement, an employer could occasionally ask for more schooling.

Becoming an HVAC technician can be long and exciting when combined with continual technical experience. Ultimately, the most significant ways to go into a profession as an HVAC technician are through certification and additional study. For instance, an HVAC specialist working for a construction company may need to earn certification in the HVAC installation track to advance and supervise new construction.

 Here is an example of a potential path to becoming an HVAC technician:

  • Obtain a high school diploma or GED (four years).

These subjects should be well-versed by chemists, physicists, and other experts who work in the HVAC sector. Potential candidates may have had prior employment or volunteer experience assisting HVAC professionals.

  • Enroll in and complete an accredited HVAC program (six months to two years).

Candidates may enroll in certificate, associate, or bachelor's degree programs that cover topics like HVAC system design, refrigeration, energy management, load calculations, industry code standards, ducting and pipe systems, and air quality and conditioning. Through these programs, prospective HVAC technicians can study theory and practical application while also getting the chance to work alongside HVAC experts to gain real-world experience.

Academic standards are established through certification, and programs that satisfy or surpass the requirements are recognized. HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation are two organizations that offer HVAC class accreditation (PAHRA). Visit the HVAC school page to learn more about recognized programs in various states.

  • Finish your apprenticeship (optional, three to five years).

 Some HVAC technicians decide to enroll in an apprenticeship program, where they complete 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of HVAC instruction each year. HVAC apprenticeships are offered by a few groups, including the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, Inc., the Associated Builders and Contractors, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Apprenticeship USA program. HVAC apprenticeship salaries vary depending on experience, location, and employer.

  • Train as an HVAC technician and enter the workforce (one to two years).

 Despite the need for a basic EPA 608 certification for technicians working with cool refrigerants, it is possible to become an entry-level HVAC technician, as previously stated, without having a professional certification. It might be wise to gain some practical professional-level experience (that is, an experience beyond apprentice-level) before becoming a licensed HVAC technician. Please be aware that some HVAC programs that are "job-ready" might skip this stage.

  • Obtain professional certification in step four (timeline varies).

Even though state requirements for HVAC technicians differ, there are several well-known certifications in this sector, including those offered by North American Technician Excellence (NATE), the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA), and HVAC Excellence (partnered with the Esco Group). For instance, while HVAC Excellence offers more generalized certification exams for air conditioning, light commercial air conditioning, and essential refrigeration and charging procedures, NATE offers several specialty certifications. Additionally, RETA provides two qualifications that are recognized by the American National Standards Institute, including the certified industrial refrigeration operator (CIRO) and the certified assistant refrigeration operator (CARO) (CIRO).

How Long Does It Take to Become an HVAC Technician?

 The time it takes to become an HVAC technician varies from state to state. HVAC specialists can earn their certification in nine to ten months. An associate's degree in heating, cooling, and air conditioning can be earned in as little as two years. The average length of an apprenticeship offered by unions and employers is between two and five years. HVAC technicians must present proof of their prior experience in places that need licensure. Many states require 2 to 6 years of work experience or an apprenticeship to earn a license. The classification also influences the level of experience required. 

How Much Does an HVAC Technician Make On Average?

 HVAC experts have relatively competitive pay, especially for jobs that may only require two years of post-secondary training. Due to factors such as the cost of living, geographic location can also have a significant impact on how much workers can make. The District of Columbia, Hawaii, Washington, and Massachusetts are the states with the highest average wages for HVAC technicians in the U.S., at $79,630. The average salary for an AC technician in Mississippi is about $44,220. These states, as well as Kansas, Alabama, and Oklahoma have substantially lower costs of living. As a whole, HVAC technicians' commitment to the trade and expertise will determine their ability to advance.

 Conclusion:

Hope this article helped you to learn about the necessary skills that a potential HVAC professional must have.  If you're unsure whether you're well-equipped to enter this field, don't worry. There are plenty of opportunities out there for HVAC and refrigeration professionals. You can also start your own HVAC company, which is a great way to earn money and gain experience within the industry. 

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