Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians work on the systems and components that ventilate, heat, and cool an area. These systems can control the air quality, temperature, and humidity in a room. These professionals might work at homes, businesses, schools, and factories. HVAC technicians often must travel to work sites to install and repair wiring, supply lines, and parts. High rates of injuries are reported for these jobs due to the risks of burns, strains, and electrical accidents. According to PayScale.com, the median wage for all HVAC technicians is $18.00 an hour as of October 2016.
|Training Required||Certificate, associate's degree, or apprenticeship program|
|Field of Study||HVAC technology|
|Licensure and Certification||Licensure may be required in some states and localities; EPA certification is necessary to work with refrigerants; other voluntary certifications available|
|Experience||May need 1-5 years of experience to find work|
|Key Skills||Troubleshooting, mechanical, time-management, and customer service skills; blueprint reading abilities; manual dexterity and physical strength|
|Median Salary (2016)*||$18.00/hour|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET OnLine, Monster.com job postings,*PayScale.com
Enroll in a Training Program
Prospective HVAC technicians can receive training from community colleges or vocational schools by enrolling in a certificate or an associate's degree program in HVAC technology. In addition to learning about heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units, HVAC technology coursework may include equipment design and temperature control, blueprint reading, mechanical systems, and electronics.
Another training option is to enroll in an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship programs can last anywhere from 3-5 years and can combine academic coursework with on-the-job training that consists of 2,000 hours per year. Apprentices may also receive a stipend while they complete the program. To apply for an apprenticeship, individuals must have a high school diploma and complete a math exam.
Obtain EPA Certification & State License
Employers typically require that HVAC technicians obtain certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which can qualify them to handle different types of refrigerants. The EPA offers three different levels of certification for HVAC technicians. Type 1 involves working with small appliance refrigerants, Type 2 deals with high-pressure refrigerants, and Type 3 covers low-pressure refrigerants. Each type of certification requires applicants to pass an examination. A few states require HVAC technicians to receive licensure, which usually involves taking an exam.
Consider Industry Certification
Professional certification is available through the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute. HVAC technicians can pursue a variety of certifications in areas like residential boilers, unit ventilators, commercial furnaces, and heat pump pool heaters. In order to achieve certification, technicians will need to pass an examination.
In summary, becoming an HVAC technician involves enrolling in a collegiate or vocational training program, obtaining EPA certification and state licensure, and earning professional certification through the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute.