How Do I Become an HVAC Technician?

Are you horrified at the thought of spending your days being stuck at a desk in an office? Would you rather be out there and working in one of the fastest-growing industries that have immense potential for career growth? If so, pursuing a career as an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air-conditioning) technician may be just what you’re looking for. 

If you’re not 100% sure what an HVAC technician does or what you’ll need to start working as one, the information below will help point you in the right direction. 

What Exactly Does an HVAC Technician do?

An HVAC technician will carry out several tasks that are associated with installing, repairing, and maintaining HVAC systems and their related equipment. 

Some of the tasks that an HVAC technician will perform include, but may not be limited to: 

  • Reading of blueprints and building plans
  • Using a number of tools such as current meters, metal cutters, flow sensors and several other items to repair and install HVAC systems
  • Ensuring that all parts of an HVAC system such as pumps, fans, compressors, thermostats, switches, motors and wiring are working correctly
  • Connecting wiring as needed
  • Testing electrical circuitry
  • Welding piping
  • Testing piping and tubing for possible leaks

Although there are many responsibilities associated with working as an HVAC technician, it will be a highly rewarding career path if you enjoy doing physical work and fixing things. 

HVAC Technician Job Outlook

At present, the job outlook for HVAC technicians is extremely positive, with the number of positions available looking set to grow by a minimum of 15% between now and 2026. This means that this specific field is growing a lot faster than many others, so if job security is what you’re looking for, becoming an HVAC technician will be ideal for you.

Becoming a Certified HVAC Technician

If you’re keen to get started with becoming an accredited HVAC technician, the following steps will help you get started:

1. Get your High School Diploma or Equivalent

Most states will require you to have a high school diploma or GED before you’ll be allowed to pursue training as an HVAC technician. If you’re still in school, you’ll want to focus on courses containing subject matter that’s relevant to working as an HVAC technician. This includes:

  • Physics
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics
  • Shop Classes such as metal or wood shop

If you’re attending a high school that offers vocational training, it would be wise to take full advantage of it. In addition, consider enrolling in courses that teach blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, and technical math – these will be especially beneficial when working as an HVAC technician. 

2. Pursue an HVAC Certification

After obtaining your high school diploma or GED, additional classes will be required to earn your HVAC certificate. 

Although federal law doesn’t require individuals to have a certificate before being allowed to work on HVAC systems, many states have laws relating to training and education. 

It usually takes less than a year to complete an HVAC technician’s training course, and you learn the following aspects from it:

  • How to use the required testing equipment and tools 
  • How to diagnose faults
  • Principles of electricity, electronics and mechanics

3. Serve an Apprenticeship

After obtaining your HVAC certificate, you might want to consider serving an apprenticeship. This will allow you to obtain on-the-job training and experience so you can learn from qualified technicians. Although some states may not require apprenticeships to be served, taking this step can be helpful in terms of gaining valuable on-the-job training. 

Many employers will also be more willing to hire you if you’ve already served an apprenticeship as well.

Although some apprenticeships may be unpaid or only partially paid, keep in mind that the experience you’ll gain from serving them will be extremely valuable when the time comes to land a paid position. 

4. Look Into the Various Certifications

Several certifications can be obtained for working in this field, with one of the most popular ones being the NATE Certification. NATE is the largest non-profit certification organization for technicians in the HVAC industry, and their tests validate the overall competency of HVAC technicians. 

Passing the NATE Ready to Work Certification means that an HVAC technician student has demonstrated the required skills to fill an entry-level position in the areas of measurements, tools, component identification, electrical safety, basic heat transfer, and general safety. 

If you intend to handle refrigerants, it’s recommended that you take an additional certification examination. The exam you take will depend on the type of equipment or appliances that you are planning to work with.

There are 3 refrigerant classifications:

  • Type I is a certification for being able to repair and service small appliances
  • Type II certification will be needed if you intend working with high-pressure systems
  • Type III certification is required if you intend servicing and maintaining low-pressure systems

Additional certifications can be obtained if you intend to work on the following systems as well:

  • Residential boilers
  • Commercial furnaces
  • Metal fabrication
  • Heat pump pool heaters

Over time, you may want to think about obtaining an associate’s or bachelor’s degree because they will enable you to offer a wider range of services to your clients. This will help increase your income, and also allow you to run your own HVAC business as you desire. 

Get Started on Your Career Path of Becoming an HVAC Technician Today

The general process of becoming an accredited HVAC technician is relatively straightforward, especially if you are already in possession of your high school diploma or GED. Provided that you’re willing to put in the time and effort to pursue the right training, you could become an accredited HVAC technician within about 9 months to a year at most. 

Once you’ve obtained your HVAC accreditation or certification and served your apprenticeship, you’ll be able to decide whether to continue working as an employee or establish your own business – the choice is yours. However, you’ll be able to enjoy a high level of career satisfaction either way.

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