Does working on heating and air conditioning systems sound interesting?
Are you a problem solver who loves diagnosing – and fixing issues?
Then a job as an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) technician may be a perfect fit. Below is everything you need to know to become an HVAC technician as well as some additional information to help you decide if it is right for you.
HVAC techs have great job stability and fair wages, but as with most trade jobs it does have some down sides too. While this is one of our most recommended career paths, you do want to be sure you can meet all the requirements to do the job well.
If working in the home building industry appeals to you, check out our article is homebuilding a good career path?
What Does An HVAC Technician Do?
HVAC technicians can be responsible for so many different duties and every day may be a bit different. Below are some of the most common HVAC services an HVAC technician may be required to do:
- Repairing or installing climate control systems like air conditioning or heating units
- Working on refrigeration systems
- Provide customers with maintenance services for their HVAC system units
- Keep detailed and accurate records of services performed for clients
- Provide customers with quotes and discussions about repair or installation options
- Testing an inspection of various systems and components to look for issues
- Work with electrical parts and wiring
- Read blueprints and diagrams
- Welding pipes
Read our article on whether HVAC is a good career to learn a bit more about this trade career!
How To Become An HVAC Technician
If you are interested in becoming an HVAC technician – you should know you will need to go through an HVAC training program. Many community colleges and trade schools offer these programs to those that have a high school diploma.
High School Diploma or GED
To increase your chances of employment we always recommend earning a GED or high school diploma. Trade or vocational schools will require this before you can enroll.
HVAC Training Program
You can enroll in an HVAC trade school or in a community college. Training and education can be 6 month – 2 years depending on the option you choose.
An apprenticeship program can help you refine your craft and make you more desirable to potential employers. This can take 3-5 years to complete.
Each state may have different requirements an HVAC technician needs to secure. Most programs will provide a certification when completed. Getting a certification from North American Technical Excellence is recommended.
Continuing education is optional but can help improve your job prospects. You can also choose to specialize in a specific HVAC field which may require more education.
Below are some more in-depth details on how to become an HVAC tech.
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- High school diploma or GED
Not all states require any kind of certification to become a HVAC technician, but it is highly recommended you get one to procure a great job in the field. Check with your state to ensure what the requirements are, or you can ask the school that you attend if they can help you decide what you need.
Most HVAC programs run from about 6 months – 9 months and during this time you will learn the following skills:
- Training on testing equipments and tool
- Basics on mechanics, electronics, and electricity
- Blueprint reading
You can either attend an HVAC specific trade school (or vocational school) or earn an associate degree from a related program at a community college.
With HVAC systems being so complex it is highly recommended you do go through a formal training program. Without this training you will find it difficult to get a good job.
HVAC apprenticeships also vary by state, but it is highly recommended to go through an apprentice program to get the hands-on skills from experienced HVAC professionals.
Apprenticeships can be found in the following ways:
- If you received HVAC certification from an accredited school they may offer assistance in finding an apprenticeship.
- Reach out to local HVAC unions or even businesses to see what opportunities they offer.
- Search on apprenticeship.gov and see if any are available in your area.
- Community colleges and vocational schools sometimes offer assistance with getting an apprenticeship.
Licensing or Certification
The need for a license by HVAC technicians varies greatly from state to state. Even if a state does not require licensing, local areas might, so you need to make sure you are aware of the requirements based on where you live.
All HVAC technicians that work on refrigeration do have to obtain a Section 608 certification as noted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Section 608 has four different types of certifications based on the career path you want to take.
- Type I Certification – for small appliance repair and service
- Type II Certification – for those working on high pressure appliances, excludes small appliances and automative HVAC
- Type III Certification – for those that services low-pressure appliances
- Universal Certification – covers all types of HVAC equipment
There are other HVAC certifications programs as well, but these are the ones that are the most important!
So, are you now more interested in becoming an HVAC technician? Below are some trade schools that are near you that offer HVAC courses so you can get started!
Click the info button and a representative from a school near you will contact you to address any questions or concerns you may have about attending their school. This is free service, so go ahead and reach out and learn more about HVAC training programs near you.
Recommended Skills For HVAC Technicians
Getting education and training are only part of the process! Below are some skills that will help you be an amazing HVAC technician.
Because you may be in small or tight spaces – it is important to be fit and agile. Customer service is critical as well since you will be helping both residential and commercial clients and need to be able to communicate well with them
Basic math skills will help with addressing unit needs for various sized orders. Troubleshooting is a large part of what this job entails so being able to find issues are key to your success. Having these skills will definitely be an asset to your career growth!
Pros & Cons Of Being An HVAC Technician
Just like every other job, HVAC technicians have some pros and cons to deal with every day. You have to decide which outweighs which.
- HVAC technicians can earn a good wage with experience.
- Job stability as both residential and commercial buildings will always have HVAC units that need repairing or installing.
- Every day is different, no job will be the same.
- Opportunity for travel and easy relocation.
- Changing technologies mean staying current with classes or training.
- May have to work nights or weekends for emergency calls.
- Physically demanding.
- Can be hard to work with some customers.
How Much Do HVAC Technicians Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for HAVC technicians in 2020 was .
Aside from experience, your location, and employer also play a big role in your salary.
The ability earn higher wages is possible through advanced certifications.
HVAC Technician Job Outlook
Growth/Decline Percentage: 5% increase from 2020 to 2030*
General Outlook: Average
The number of jobs for HVAC technicians will be slower than many other careers in terms of growth.
Most of the job openings that will happen will be due to retirement or those that leave the field for other careers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about this career. If you have other questions that are not listed here – please email us or leave a comment below and we will be sure to add them!
*Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics