The general requirement for an HVAC Technician must be at least 18 years old. The required training, certifications, and licensure vary from state to state. However, even in states where a license is not required, employers have a preference on technicians who have completed technical school training or formal apprenticeship.
Majority of HVAC technicians complete their initial training during secondary or post secondary technical schools. There are also colleges which offer programs on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.
A student should only consider attending a program that has been accredited by one of the three accrediting agencies for the HVAC industry. This will ensure that the HVAC courses they have received will be acknowledged by apprenticeship programs and employers. The three accrediting agencies are:
National Center for Construction Education and Research
Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation
At a high level, students study the following areas of discipline as part of their preparation for the HVAC Technician Career
- Temperature Control
- Equipment Design
- Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Basics
An HVAC trainee will typically complete these courses in a span of 6 months to 2 years. A new technician will require 6 months to 2 years of experience before being considered proficient in the field.
Aspiring HVAC apprentices will need to have a high-school diploma or equivalent to apply. These formal programs typically last for 3 to 5 years which includes classroom training and paid on-the-job training. These programs can be stepping stones to additional certification or earned college credits. HVAC trainees who complete these programs are considered skilled trade workers and are able to work independently.
The following courses are typically part of an apprenticeship program:
- Theory and Design of HVAC and Refrigeration Systems
- Blue Print Reading
- Use and Care of HVAC Technician Tools
- Refrigerant products and associated legislation
- Safety Practices
Similar to Secondary and Post Secondary training, students training to become an HVAC technician should only participate in the apprenticeship programs run by any of the following entities.
- Air-Conditioning Contractors of America
- Mechanical Contractors Association of America
- Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association
- Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association
- United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada.
- Associated Builders and Contractors
- National Association of Home Builders
There are some states which require HVAC technicians to obtain a license and requirements vary from state to state. However, the typical requirements for a license would be to complete a apprenticeship program, 2 to 5 work experience, and passing an examination.
HVAC Technicians who handle refrigerants will need to be certified by passing a written exam specific to their specialization. These exams are administered by institutions accredited by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Experienced HVAC Technicians have the option of applying for specialized certifications which demonstrate their skill and competency on the specific equipment or sub specialization. Employers strongly recommend obtaining these certifications which in turn aids the technician to advance further in the career.