Becoming an HVAC Technician: What Training is Needed?

After completing a high school diploma or GED, those looking to become HVAC technicians have several options for gaining the necessary training. A certificate program requires about 30 credits, while an associate degree program requires about 60 credits. To be successful in the field, HVAC technicians must have strong technical skills, a detail-oriented personality, and the physical fitness to lift and move large equipment. They must also be reliable and have strong interpersonal skills to explain the intricacies of an HVAC system to customers. Before starting work, most HVAC technicians have some specialized training.

This can be obtained through a technical school or community college. Shorter programs can last just six months and result in an HVAC technician certificate, while longer programs can last up to two years and result in an associate degree. In addition, some states require a professional license before an HVAC technician can begin work. To research local accreditation requirements, contact state authorities that grant HVAC licenses.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also requires that any technician who works with refrigerants (such as CFCs and HCFCs) be properly trained to handle and dispose of these hazardous chemicals. HVAC technicians can obtain certification in small appliances, low-pressure systems, and high-pressure systems, or they can obtain a universal certification that qualifies them to work with all refrigerant systems. The tests for these types of licenses are offered by several third-party companies and can be completed online. Some HVAC technicians gain experience by obtaining on-the-job training or by participating in an apprenticeship program. Others could enroll in accredited HVAC programs to better prepare for the competitive labor market. Advanced HVAC certifications can be attractive to both potential employers and customers, so many HVAC technicians choose to obtain them, but they are not mandatory.

Sometimes, an employer may require more education to advance the job. For example, a non-specialty HVAC technician working for a construction company may need to obtain certification in the field of HVAC installation to advance and oversee new buildings. Along with ongoing technical experience, the path to becoming an HVAC technician is varied and promising. With dedication and experience to the trade, an individual can move up the ranks in terms of both responsibility and salary. To become an HVAC technician, one must complete a high school diploma or GED, pursue a certificate program or associate degree program, or participate in an apprenticeship program.

Additionally, some states require a professional license before beginning work and EPA certification is necessary for those working with refrigerants.