How Do I Become an HVAC Technician?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technician installs and repairs commercial and residential heating, cooling, and refrigeration equipment. You can prepare for this job by graduating from high school and then pursuing HVAC education in a certificate, diploma, or degree program. You will usually need training as well, which you can obtain through an internship, apprenticeship, or job. Certification and licensing requirements typically vary by jurisdiction; if either is required, or preferred, you will typically have to demonstrate proof of your training or educational background and pass an exam to earn it.

Exterior wall vent leading to an HVAC system.
Exterior wall vent leading to an HVAC system.

Education is a good place to start when you want to become an HVAC technician. For example, earning a high school diploma or General Educational Development® (GED®) credential is generally required to work in this field. Earning either of these credentials may make you a more desirable job candidate as well, and prove helpful if you choose to seek formal education. For instance, after graduation, you might choose to pursue a training program via a trade school or a community college.

An HVAC technician can install, repair, and provide maintenance on heating and air conditioning systems.
An HVAC technician can install, repair, and provide maintenance on heating and air conditioning systems.

Completing a formal training program is often a good option when you want to become an HVAC technician. Such programs will help you gain the knowledge you need to install and repair heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. These programs often grant certificates or diplomas and can last from just a couple of months to a couple of years. In this type of program, you will usually have the opportunity to study a range of topics important to becoming an HVAC technician, including heating systems and various types of power used for HVAC systems, technology used in HVAC systems, blueprint reading, and temperature control theory.

As a skilled trade, working experience repairing and installing refrigeration equipment is more valuable than academic credentials.
As a skilled trade, working experience repairing and installing refrigeration equipment is more valuable than academic credentials.

Though you can become an HVAC technician without seeking a college degree, earning an associate's or bachelor's degree in an HVAC program may open the doors to more job opportunities. In such a program, you will likely learn about a range of related technologies and systems, including those that are used in residential and commercial applications. You may also learn to read blueprints and study the designs of various types of duct systems. Your degree program may also cover electricity and wiring as well as alternative energy sources.

In addition to education, you will likely need some training to become an HVAC technician. This can take the form of on-the-job training working for a licensed or certified technician, an internship, or an apprenticeship. Some educational programs even offer training as part of the program. You might also find some employers who will hire you for an entry-level position and allow you to learn as you go, but these positions are sometimes a challenge to find.

Whether or not you need a license or certification to become an HVAC technician depends on your jurisdiction. Some require it while others do not. If certification is voluntary in your jurisdiction, you may find that some employers prefer it. Typically, you will have to prove your training and experience and then pass a test to gain certification or licensing.

HVAC technicians need a high school education, followed by training in a certificate, diploma or degree program.
HVAC technicians need a high school education, followed by training in a certificate, diploma or degree program.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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