Have you always enjoyed fixing broken things in your home? Do you get a kick out of experimenting with complicated wiring? Do your neighbors call on you for minor repairs on their air conditioning units, refrigerators and other systems? Having a career as an HVAC technician could be perfect for you.
What exactly is an HVAC technician and what does the job entail?
An HVAC technician is a skilled tradesman who is responsible for installing and repairing heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment in residential and commercial buildings. As a skilled technician, your job involves reading blueprints and using a wide range of specialized tools such as metal cutters, current meters and flow sensors. When you are called to repair a system in your customer’s home or office, you need to make sure that all motors, fans, compressors, pumps, switches and thermostats are functioning properly.
What are the steps that you need to take to become an HVAC technician?
Step 1: Complete your high school studies
You need to graduate from high school or receive a general equivalency diploma. Experts recommend that while you are still in high school you need to immerse yourself in relevant courses like physics, computer science and chemistry. In addition to that, you also need to take additional vocational training and shop classes to further enhance your skills and knowledge.
Step 2: Enroll in an accredited HVAC training program.
After completing your high school studies, you need to enroll in an accredited HVAC training program. Here you will be exposed to more HVAC specific courses like blueprint reading, temperature control, construction and equipment design. These training programs typically take about six months to two years to complete. If you choose the shorter programs, you will receive a certificate. If you choose to complete the two-year program you will graduate with a diploma.
Step 3: Participate in an apprenticeship program.
Most states in the country require would-be HVAC technicians to complete a 3 to 5 year apprenticeship period. During this time, you are going to train with professional HVAC technicians and you are going to be exposed to a combination of theoretical classroom learning as well as practical application. The apprenticeship program is a paid on-the-job-training and is available through various local chapters of HVAC industry contractor associations. Some of the courses that you will take during the apprenticeship period are blueprint reading, safety practices, ventilation and air conditioning systems design and care of tools.
Step 4: Successfully pass the licensing examination and obtain your HVAC license.
Licensing requirements in different states vary but as a rule, you need to pass the licensing exam and either complete a training program or accumulate 2 to 5 years of work experience in the HVAC industry. During the exam you will be expected to exhibit in-depth knowledge of a wide range of HVAC installation and repair concepts and principles. You will also be tested on your knowledge of electrical codes. If you aim to work with refrigerants as well, you will need to take additional certification for the particular type of appliance or equipment that you will service.