If you are considering taking the leap into becoming a HVAC technician then learning more about the HVAC apprenticeship program process is important.
HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) installers and repairmen are responsible for installing and repairing a variety of systems including:
- Central air conditioning
- Heating units
- Refrigeration systems
- Hot air furnaces
- Heating stoves
If a career as an HVAC technician is interesting to you, then read on and see why an HVAC apprenticeship program makes sense for future career growth an opportunity.
What Is An Apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships are an important part of the many industries but especially so for the skilled trades.
They help solidify a potential employees skills by offering on the job training so they can get the hands-on-experience they need. Some apprenticeships may include classroom experience and be a stepping stone to earning credentials for your field as well.
Apprentices are usually paid and will spend their time working under an experienced professional.
What Is Required To Become An Apprentice
There is no “standard” for the requirements to start a HVAC apprenticeship. Each state may have their own requirements, but there are some core things that may apply across the US.
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Clean driving record
- Ability to pass a drug test
- High school diploma or GED
- Good aptitude for math
- Be at least 18 years of age or older*
- US citizen or authorized to work here
*There are some opportunities for 16 and 17 year olds (usually high school seniors) with vocational schools to work as an apprentice at a younger age. If you are under 18 and not in school or with a formal recognized program you cannot work as an apprentice.
HVAC Apprenticeship Options
There are two ways you can get into an apprenticeship program.
Community College or Technical School
Some HVAC workers choose to attend one of these options before looking for an internship and we highly recommend this path.
Training classes in a formal HVAC program typically runs for about 600 hours and will cover some of the following:
- Reading of drawings and diagrams
- Principles of oil, gas, and electric heat
- Basic electricity
- Theories of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration
- Soldering and brazing
- Building codes
A community college will last about 2 years and you will leave the program with an associates degree. This path offers better opportunities for advancement and management roles.
Attending a technical school is the fastest path to getting to work and may last up to 12 months.
Neither of these options includes an apprenticeship so you will need to work with the school to see if they can help you find one. We have also provided other options below if they cannot offer assistance.
Do A Combination Apprenticeship And Education Program
Some apprenticeships offer both hands-on training as well as classroom education. These are more formal programs that are solely focused on HVAC careers and are commonly supported by trade associations and local unions.
Do HVAC Technicians Require Apprenticeships?
Whether or not you need an apprenticeship as a HVAC worker will depend on where you live. Some states have requirements as well as some localities which may be different than the state level.
It is important that you check with your state and locality that you are interested in working in to determine what you will need.
But, even if your state does not require you to be an apprentice – it is highly recommended. Being an apprentice is the best way to learn to work in the HVAC industry and can help set you apart from other pursuing the career.
There are two options for becoming a HVAC apprentice:
- Attend a post-secondary or technical school for HVAC and receive a degree or certificate. Then you can go right into a hands-on only training apprenticeship.
- Locate an apprenticeship that offers the hands-on training as well as the classroom education you need.
One is not necessarily better than the other so it does not matter which option you choose.
How To Find An HVAC Apprenticeship
Finding a HVAC apprenticeship may seem daunting, but there are quite a few options to get you started on an apprentice path.
Below are several options for finding a HVAC apprenticeships.
If you enroll in a community college that has a HVAC program they may help you find placement in an apprenticeship program. Talk to the career center or if you have a guidance counselor they can also offer additional insights to help you.
Many technical schools work with local businesses to help transition their students into apprenticeships. Make sure if you do decide to attend a trade or technical school for HVAC that you ask if they will assist you with apprenticeship placement.
Apprenticeship.gov is a program from the US Department of Labor that helps workers find apprenticeships. You can find a lot of great information about apprenticeships on the website. Use their apprenticeship database to see HVAC opportunities are available near you.
Probably the least popular option, but the one that might be the most effective. There is a shortage of trades people out there and most HVAC companies are probably hiring and looking for skilled people who want to get their career started!
What Will An HVAC Apprentice Do?
An HVAC apprentice will shadow a more experienced HVAC professional on different jobs. Depending on the level of apprenticeship you have reached will determine the amount of work you will do on that job.
- As a beginner you would mostly be watching what the more experienced technician does when fixing heating and air conditioning systems. You may help hand them tools and do some basic cleaning of various components. It is a great way to see how they handle customers and manage their day to day duties.
- As you move on through the program you will be able to tackle more projects like basic maintenance and servicing needs. You may then work on the heating and air conditioning units in small ways like minor technical fixes or troubleshooting.
- Once you have been apprenticing for a while you will then start to do more of the work with your mentor watching over you and checking up on your work. At this stage you may also beginning learning more about refrigerations systems as well if that is something you are interested in doing.
Apprenticeships can last for a few years, and while that may sound frustrating now – it will serve you well in the future.
Beating The Competition
Apprenticeship programs in most fields are super competitive the HVAC industry is no different. There are typically more people looking for them than they are available.
So, how do you set yourself apart?
Completing an HVAC program and getting your certification OR an Associate’s degree would be the first step. The classroom training will be one strong way to be successful in the HVAC field and show potential apprenticeship training program opportunities that you are serious about your career.
Always be professional in your contact with any apprenticeship opportunity. Make sure your grammar and spelling are top notch and be professional in your tone.
No matter how you decide to land your apprenticeship, it is definitely the best path to success.