How to Become an HVAC Technician

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HVAC technicians do important work. They help to make sure that our heating, venting, and air conditioning systems work well enough to warm us in the winter and keep us cool in the summer.

Maybe you’re interested in starting a career in this industry. If so, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about becoming an HVAC technician, including a step-by-step plan for doing so.

How to become an HVAC technician (in 4 steps)

When you’re just getting started with your journey of becoming an HVAC technician, the process can feel daunting and complicated. But it’s actually a fairly straightforward journey. 

Here are four steps to take to go from where you are now to becoming an HVAC technician.

START BY COMPLETING YOUR HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION

The first thing that many employers will look for before hiring an HVAC technician is a high school diploma. But don’t worry if you didn’t get one. You can also meet this requirement by earning the equivalent of a high school diploma, such as a GED.

If you’re currently in high school, then you can try to take classes that will prepare you for a career in this industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that high school students should focus on courses like vocational education, math, and physics. 

Taking classes like these in high school could help you be more prepared for the next phase of the HVAC training process.

PURSUE POST-SECONDARY TRAINING

The vast majority of HVAC technicians go on to complete some type of post-secondary training after graduating from high school and before entering the workforce.

The options for post-secondary HVAC training include technical school, trade school, and community college. Each of these types of institutions has programs in heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration. They can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to complete.

The purpose of these programs is to help people who want to become HVAC technicians learn the foundation skills of the trade. Courses may include:

  • Electrical systems
  • HVAC design
  • Green job training
  • Commercial refrigeration
  • And others

Some of these programs may also include hands-on training through integrated apprenticeships or internships.

EARN CERTIFICATIONS (OPTIONAL)

You may also decide to pursue a certification in an HVAC field. There are two types of certifications to choose from.

The first is a general certification that proves you have the baseline set of skills necessary to become a working HVAC technician. You can sometimes do this in place of completing an HVAC degree program.

The second type of certification is one that shows you’ve specialized in a specific area of HVAC work. These certifications are a great way to show that you’re an expert in a certain niche within this industry. Being able to say that about yourself could help you qualify for higher-paying jobs.

GET HANDS-ON TRAINING BY WORKING

You can learn a lot about HVAC work through post-secondary education and certification programs. But you’ll almost definitely still have a lot to learn about the job once you begin working.

Often, employers pair new HVAC employees with more experienced ones when they’re first starting out. This ensures that they have someone to learn from as they seek to gain the skills they’ll need to work independently as an HVAC technician.

It’s also possible to find apprenticeship programs for HVAC technicians. These are typically done in place of post-secondary training and involve mostly hands-on training with experienced HVAC technicians. 

They can be a great way to develop your mastery of the important HVAC tasks that you’ll be doing in this role.

Technician is checking air conditioner ,measuring equipment for filling air conditioners.

Factors to consider before becoming an HVAC technician

We hope that the previous section gave you a good overview of what it takes to become an HVAC technician. But before you commit to walking that path, you’ll want to be sure that it’s the right one for you to travel.

That’s why we’ve included this section. Keep reading to learn more about three key areas of HVAC work that could influence whether or not this is the right profession for you to enter into.

WORK ENVIRONMENT

One important thing to keep in mind is what your working conditions will be like as an HVAC technician. These can be pretty varied because HVAC techs are in demand everywhere that HVAC systems exist.

For example, you might work in commercial buildings, schools, or factories if an employer who specializes in these types of clients hires you.

But many HVAC technicians end up working in residential homes. Your employer may ask you to drive yourself from home to home throughout the day as you complete various repair and maintenance tasks.

Another thing to consider here is that HVAC technicians may spend time working outdoors in the heat or cold. You may also work in tight or cramped spaces.

EARNING POTENTIAL

You also want to make sure that the amount that you can earn as an HVAC technician is in line with your expectations for a career. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for an HVAC technician is $50,590 per year in the United States. That translates to about $24.32 per hour.

That being said, your pay as an HVAC tech could be higher or lower than average depending on the region that you work in and the niche that you occupy.

For example, HVAC technicians in Alaska earn an average salary of $79,630 per year. But those in Florida make an average of $45,450 per year.

DEMAND

It’s also worth taking a moment to consider what the demand for HVAC technicians looks like both in your area and nationwide. Doing this will give you some insight into how hard it will be to find a job in this field after you complete your training.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the demand for HVAC technicians nationwide is slated to grow by about 5% nationwide from 2020 to 2030. That’s a little bit slower than the average rate of growth, which is 7.7% over that span of time.

Is this career right for you?

If you’re interested in this line of work, then you’ll want to make sure that you know what an average day as an HVAC technician looks like. You can figure that out by reading this blog post. We’ve also included the major pros and cons of being an HVAC technician below.

PROS OF BEING AN HVAC TECHNICIAN

The first benefit of choosing this career path is that you won’t have to worry about outsourcing or automation. That’s because the work that HVAC technicians do requires a human’s touch and it’s not possible for someone to do it virtually.

This career is also a great choice for people who love solving technical problems. As an HVAC technician, you’ll regularly get the opportunity to assess technical systems and repair them. This type of creative problem-solving can be really fulfilling for people who enjoy the work.

Another good reason to become an HVAC technician is the opportunity to earn a solid wage immediately. You don’t have to complete a four-year degree to start earning upwards of $50,000 per year when you choose this line of work. 

Instead, you can complete the training that you need to do this in as little as six months. That’s a good deal shorter than many other careers.

CONS OF BEING AN HVAC TECHNICIAN

One of the cons of this job is that you may need to be on call sometimes. HVAC emergencies happen and you may be responsible for responding to them depending on the employer that you work for and what they do. This means you could have to work odd hours during some portions of your career.

Another thing to think about is that this job can be physically demanding. You won’t usually spend much time working behind a desk as an HVAC technician. And since you may end up working in uncomfortable positions often, this can take a toll over time.

Finally, it’s also worth keeping in mind that your employment opportunities can vary by state. Places where nearly every home has an HVAC system (such as Florida) tend to have a lot of job openings for HVAC techs. But states where these systems aren’t as common in residential homes may have more competition for fewer openings.

Find your next job as an HVAC technician through Rock the Trades

When you’re ready to begin looking for jobs as an HVAC technician, Rock the Trades has you covered. You can download our app to automatically start getting connected to employers who are looking for candidates with your skill set in your area.

So why wait? Take the first step towards your next job by downloading the Rock the Trades app today.

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