Giving People Comfort: How to Become an HVAC Technician

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Mar 6, 2019

Mar 6, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Don't like traditional book learning?

Then becoming an HVAC technician is a great way to make a good living. You can expect to make somewhere between $40,000 to $50,000 a year, depending on where you work.

In order to succeed in this industry, you'll need to be technically minded and able to learn on the job. Not only do you need to understand the ins and outs of an HVAC system, but you must also do some physical work. You'll also need to have good customer service skills as you're going to spend a lot of time interacting with people. 

If you're interested in becoming an HVAC technician, here's how to do it.

Graduate High School

Most HVAC companies will only want to employ people who've graduated high school at the very least. Sure, you might have heard about someone's cousin's brother who got in without having any qualifications whatsoever, but it certainly isn't common.

If you're lucky enough to still be in high school and you want to be an HVAC technician, the classes you should focus on in particular are math and science.

Look for a Friend or Family Member with Connections

As with many careers, who you know can have a huge effect on whether or not you can get a job as an HVAC technician. When you want to get started on your HVAC career, you should start off by asking your friends and family if they know anyone in the business.

Say you have an uncle who runs an HVAC company. You might be able to get in based on nepotism rather than taking the more “official” approach.

Don't worry if you can't find anyone who works in the industry. If you're enthusiastic and committed to learning more about HVAC systems, you should have a decent chance of making a career out of it.

Find an Apprenticeship Program

If you don't have the convenience of a friend or family connection, you'll need to take a more conventional approach. You don't necessarily have to go to college.

Do some research online and find out if there are any HVAC tech apprenticeship programs available in your area. This is a paid training program, and you can expect it to last somewhere between three to five years.

While working as an apprentice, you probably won't make too much money, but it'll be worth it when you qualify and become a fully-fledged technician. There are plenty of HVAC career sites that can help you to find an apprenticeship program that's right for you.

Consider a Tech School

More people are trying to get into the HVAC industry, so you might find you're up against some competition. So what can you do to set yourself apart from the pack?

You could get certified by a technical or trade school. This will involve doing training from anywhere from a few months to a whole year.

In an apprenticeship program, you may be trained on the job. If you already have a technical education, you're more likely to be useful on the job site. This means you're more likely to get taken on as an apprentice.

Learn Online

If going to tech school isn't an option, you can always learn more about HVAC systems online. Pretty much all of the information you'll need to learn to be a successful HVAC technician is available right here on the Internet.

For example, there are many tutorial videos on YouTube that show you how to repair and maintain various HVAC systems. If you need to do an interview for an apprenticeship position, already having knowledge from online learning could certainly work out in your favor.

Need a License?

In some states, for HVAC careers, you may need a license to operate as a technician, but in others, you don't need to be licensed at all. It's important that you establish whether or not you'll need a license as early as possible. This can ensure that you're not caught unawares later on.

You may need to pass an exam in order to get your license.

Get Your EPA Certification

Depending on the kind of HVAC tech you're planning to be, you might need to get EPA certified. If your work will require you to use refrigerants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires you to become verified. In order to get this certification, you'll need to complete a written exam.

Continue Your Education

If you want to be among the top earners in the HVAC industry, continued education is a must. There's always more to learn, and you can set yourself apart in this competitive market by completing additional certification programs and perhaps even getting a bachelor's degree.

This isn't something you really need to worry about in the early stages of your career. Initially, you should focus on getting an apprenticeship and completing the program.

Consider Moving

In some areas, it might be difficult, if not impossible, to find an apprenticeship program. In those cases, it might be worth looking into moving to a different place.

Generally, the more people there are in an area, the more demand there will be for HVAC technicians. If you live out in the boondocks, consider moving to a more densely populated area. It some cases, you might be able to delay actually moving until you're accepted into a program.

Be an In-Demand HVAC Technician

Unlike some other careers where there are simply too many people in the job market, HVAC techs are in pretty high demand across the country. Once you're trained and certified, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding work as long as you're in a fairly populated area.

If you want to start on an apprenticeship program, make sure you do a decent amount of research. Don't just join the first apprenticeship program you find; research your options and make the right decision so you can become a skilled HVAC technician. 

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