Heating, air conditioning and ventilation -- or HVAC -- technicians are in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs for HVAC technicians will grow 34 percent by 2020, which is much faster than average than other industries. To become an HVAC technician, you need to complete a degree or certificate program or a formal apprenticeship. The time for completing certification varies, but it can be done in as little as six months.
HVAC technicians install, diagnose and repair heating and air conditioning units. They also install and repair ventilation systems and sometimes refrigeration units. HVAC technicians may work as independent contractors or with private companies, and they may work in homes, offices, government agencies, schools, hospitals and construction work sites. Many times, HVAC technicians have to work in tight spaces, such as in ventilation ducts.
HVAC certification programs are offered primarily by community colleges and online schools. Program length varies by school, but the typical length is six months to one year. Coursework may cover HVAC system design and specifications, duct work and piping systems, building codes, energy management and facilities management. The program will prepare you for licensing and to start working upon completion.
Once you finish your certification program, you will likely need to be licensed to work in your state. Each state has different licensing requirements. However, licensing typically involves passing an exam and providing proof of your credentials, such as your program certificate and perhaps a criminal background check. In some states, like Texas, you may also need a certain number of working hours under the supervision of a licensed HVAC technician.
HVAC technology is always changing, and the systems you work with in even a few years' time may not be the same as the systems you study while getting your certification. In some states, you may be required to get continuing education to maintain your license to ensure that you stay up-to-date on the latest HVAC technology. You can often take these courses through the same program that granted you the original certification.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers
- UC Berkeley Extension: Certificate Program in HVAC
- Ashworth College: Career Diploma Heating and Air Conditioning
- Metropolitan Community College: Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
- Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation: Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors Frequently Asked Questions
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