What Does It Take To Become An HVAC Technician
If you are somebody who is very handy and loves helping people then a career as an HVAC technician could be right up your alley.
It involves a lot of hard work, but the satisfaction that you get when you help somebody get their heating back in the dead of winter is second to none. You’ll definitely come across as a knight in shining armor for many people that would be stuck without your help.
Not to mention the pay is also very good!
As long as you are somewhat handy and are a stickler for details then you can make yourself a very good career by becoming an HVAC technician.
What is an HVAC technician?
HVAC is an acronym for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. As a technician you are responsible for both the heating and cooling of a house or building.
You’ll be responsible for creating central air conditioning and heating as well as refrigeration units. Welding pipes, testing electrical circuits and connecting wire systems are all part of the job.
If you are working for yourself you will need to also handle things like ordering refrigerant and other supplies. Luckily there are site online like Your HVAC & Refrigerant Head Quarters! That will help you order these things you need to get the job done.
You don’t need a college degree. A high school diploma or equivalent is enough to get started.
Once you are finished with high school, you’ll need to get licensed and certified by taking some courses. There are different types of HVAC technicians like traditional systems and also for alternative heating for houses.
How long the program is depends on what type of HVAC you want to work on. Programs start at 6 months and can go up to 4 years. The longer programs involve getting your bachelor’s degree in areas that can include chemistry, physics, as well as other physical science.
If you are looking to break right in then a certificate is the way to go in which you will learn about residential systems, HVAC controls (such as voltage, air quality, and resistance, and tools.
Even if it’s optional to get a certificate or degree, you are improving your chances to get hired. It gives you a deeper understanding of the technical and theoretical aspects of the job and shows a willingness to learn.
There are many different certification programs like North American Technician Excellence that will provide exams with specifications on various types of air conditioning, air distribution, oil and gas heating, hydronics gas and oils and refrigeration.
Going to school may not be necessary depending on the area and the shop where you end up working. In some cases an apprenticeship plus coursework will get you the experience you need to get started.
Apprenticeships are offered by contractor associations and unions and can include up to 2,000 hours of on the job training and coursework combined per year. It can take up to 5 years of this kind of arrangement or as little as 3.
How much you stand to make when just starting out as a technician highly depends on where in the country you live and work. And it also depends on what type of technician you are.
For example, if you are starting out in Arkansas then you should expect something in the vicinity of $41,000. Somebody in New Jersey with the same experience will likely start making $52,000 give or take a couple of thousand. That’s a big difference, but so is cost of living which is much higher in New Jersey.
With experience, you should expect that amount to climb year on year. Especially if you are in a union and if you are always doing coursework to further specialize.
Benefits of being an HVAC technician
The most obvious benefit is the salary. You will start out making more money than most college graduates with almost guaranteed work right out of the gate.
In fact, the job is recession proof as there will always be a need to repair what is broken. Heat and air conditioning are not luxuries so there will be a need no matter what state the economy is in.
There is a lot of room for advancement. As you learn more and more, you can rise in the ranks within your company or find new jobs as a specialist for other companies that will also likely pay more.
It is also a year round job. Some construction jobs take breaks in the winter as it is too cold to get the work done or there is little demand for it. When you work in both heating and air conditioning then you have year round work. Add refrigeration to the mix and there will never be a shortage of work.
Is it dangerous to be an HVAC technician?
Anytime you are working with electricity there is a risk of injury or even death. You will need to know the risks and understand exactly what you are doing at all times.
There will also be some challenging conditions that you will need to work under. Extreme heat and cold are part of the work environment. There is also exposure to carbon monoxide and other toxins that are very dangerous to breath.
Understand that this is a difficult job done under difficult and even dangerous conditions.
Should you become a technician?
Becoming an HVAC technician is a big commitment. You’ll need either lots of hours of on the job training or studying for a degree or certificate or both.
Learning will be a big part of your life as there is always more you need to know so you will need to be somebody who loves to learn.
And it is a job that brings a lot of challenges that need to be solved every day.
If this sounds like you then you are ready to start taking the next steps toward a rewarding and lucrative career!