HVAC is an acronym for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.” An HVAC Technician is a trained individual who operates, maintains and repairs all equipment used for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. If one is looking for a career that deals with such services, pursuing a career as an HVAC Technician may be promising.

The perks of being an HVAC technician are varied as you can transition to many opportunities in the industry as long as you have acquired some formal education on the HVAC system and are licensed. 

The job market for HVAC technicians correlates with the increasing use of technology. It is evident in the employment growth projection rate at 15%. 

In 2018, there were about 332,900 HVAC Technician jobs. On the other hand, the employment rates expect to grow and reach up to 381,700 by 2028.

Required Qualifications of an HVAC Technician

High School Diploma or GED

Starting with a High School Diploma or GED is crucial as this is the first and foremost thing an employer would check. It is also the minimum requirement for any HVAC technician job.

If one is in high school, the following courses are high recommendations that will give a strong foundation in the HVAC field:

-Computer science
-Shop classes like woodshop and metal shop
-Vocational training is a bonus

Pursue an HVAC certificate program (6 months- 2 years)

After high school, one can either apply for a diploma or bachelor’s degree course on HVAC courses. In these programs, one will get thorough knowledge of using the tools and other equipment testing pieces. One will also get to learn the theoretical and technical aspects of mechanics, electronics, and electricity.

The program features HVAC system design, ductwork and piping systems, and air quality and conditioning. These courses are well-rounded to prepare one as a reliable HVAC Technician. The most prestigious accreditations for HVAC courses are HVAC Excellence and Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).

Join an Apprenticeship or Training Program (Optional)

After pursuing an HVAC certificate program, one can get full hands-on training and gain experience. This experience can go a long way in bagging a job.  An apprenticeship can last for 3 to 5 years. The more one gains practical experience, the more likely it is for him/her to land a permanent job.

Some of the organizations one can check that provide HVAC apprenticeships are:

-The U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship USA program.
-The Air Conditioning Contractors of America Inc.
-The Associated Builders and Contractors

Apprenticeships can either be paid or unpaid. However, unpaid apprenticeships provide stipends. It all depends on the individual’s experience and the employer.

Get HVAC Certification

In the U.S., NATE (North American Technician Excellence) is the most extensive certification for HVACR technicians. One of the most credible exams as NATE provides Industry Competency Exams (ICE) in installation and service specialities.

Although NATE is a non-profit organization. Renowned organizations like Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), the Heating, Air-conditioning andRefrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) recognize NATE.

NATE offers four optional certifications:

First level- Ready-to-Work Certificate (eligibility from 6 months approx. experience)

Ready to Work Certification is the first level of certification. It validates knowledge and skills for a fresher or entry-level HVAC technician candidate. It certifies a technician’s knowledge about tools, measurements and units, electrical safety, primary heat transfer and general safety.

Second Level- HVAC Support Technician Certificate (eligibility for six months to 1 year of experience)

Those who have gained up to a year of experience can appear on the test. This certification course will learn about basic construction terms, securing safety conditions, tools, and temperature and humidity measurements.

Core & Specialty Tests Certificate (for over two years of experience)

One needs to write this test before applying for any NATE specialization certifications. One will have to study basic construction terms in this certification course, securing safety conditions, tools and taking temperature and humidity measurements.

Senior Level Efficiency Analyst Certification (for minimum t years of experience)

A technician must have at least two NATE speciality certifications before attempting this senior-level test. The test is at an intermediate level. It covers complex topics like air distribution, environment control,  system operation, load calculation, appliance selection, hydronic measurement, and planned maintenance.

If one passes any of the above tests, it automatically validates the proficiency of the technician. The certifications vary from one’s specialization to another. It depends on the type of appliances or equipment one is planning to service.

For example, there are three refrigerant classifications to handle refrigerants:

-Type 1: To certify small appliances services
-Type II: To certify high-pressure systems services
-Type III: To certify low-pressure systems services

There are multiple certifications available to solidify an individual’s services on specific systems such as metal fabrication, residential boilers, heat pump pool heaters, commercial furnaces and many more.

Bolstering Your HVAC Resume

HVAC Excellence is another more generalized certification exam. It encapsulates certifications for air conditioning and other basic refrigeration systems. 

On the other hand, the Refrigerating Engineers & Technicians Association (RETA) is an organization that offers the American National Standards Institute accredited certifications. Namely, Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator (CARO) and a Certified Industrial Refrigeration Operator (CIRO).

Soft Skills of an Expert HVAC Technician

A budding HVAC Technician must know that this career field is a blend of technical and creative aspects. As an HVAC technician one needs to be:

-A good communicator who can explain all the requirements of an HVAC system
-Reliable and patient as one might face emergency calls even during weekends and odd hours
-Knowledgable and possess manual skills to carry out tasks efficiently.
-Ability to respond to issues and convince the clients as to why repairs or replacements are necessary.

Explore Other HVAC Career Paths

HVAC Engineers

HVAC engineers play the most significant role in the HVAC industry. They design HVAC systems and can work for manufacturing companies and other engineering organizations.

HVAC Managers

HVAC Managers play the role of supervisors. They supervise projects that involve installing or replacing HVAC systems. HVAC managers tend to HVAC technicians.  They also maintain customer relationships and act as coordinators while executing a particular project.

Related Careers

Related Articles