How To Become an HVAC Technician: The Basics Explained

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Becoming an HVAC technician is a great career choice. In fact, experts are forecasting nearly 400,000 technician jobs will be available by the end of the decade. This is a 4% growth in the number of jobs, which is on par with the national average.

Also, HVAC technicians are paid well. Salaries are expected to rise faster in the years to come. A national skilled labor shortage is driving demand and pay for HVAC technicians.

Read on to learn how to become an HVAC technician. Explore the basics to becoming an HVAC technician, including education and certification programs.


Perhaps the best advantage of becoming an HVAC technician is that you do not need a bachelor's degree. Some want to find a new path and not take on tens of thousands in student loan debt. The education programs typically last between six months to two years maximum.

Postsecondary education occurs at trade schools or community colleges. These institutions offer classes and programs that cover the basics of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Course topics include installation, repair, and technical requirements.


After completing vocational school or community college, you do not instantly become a certified HVAC technician. Instead, you need real-world training and experience. This often comes in the form of an apprenticeship.

Now, you are going to work alongside an experienced HVAC technician. You accompany them as they perform installations, repairs, and preventative maintenance tasks.

This is the best way to learn as each service call is different. You get hands-on experience working on different makes and models of HVAC systems.

In addition, you will observe various failure modes. The experienced technician you are shadowing demonstrates how to diagnose issues both common and rare.

Also of value is seeing how preventative maintenance is performed. An HVAC system is one of the most expensive items in a home.

The best way to protect that investment is by preventing failures from occurring. You will learn how to crack open a system and ensure its continued optimal operation.

You may be wondering how to land an apprenticeship. Both contractors and unions sponsor apprenticeships. They have a vested interest in developing the next generation of HVAC technicians.

Licensure and Certification

As an HVAC technician, you are sometimes required to handle sensitive consumables. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is specifically interested in the handling of refrigerants. This is not something that can simply be discarded down a drain or on the ground.

For this reason, HVAC technicians have to pass an EPA certification exam. Both trade schools and unions prepare HVAC technicians for this exam.

Some states require HVAC technicians to obtain a license to operate. Each prospective HVAC technician should check on their state's licensing requirements before starting work.

A Recap of How to Become an HVAC Technician

HVAC technicians are in demand and paid well. Instead of taking on student loan debt, you can earn money faster than college students.

A hands-on apprenticeship allows you to learn the ropes from a professional. Some go on to start their own HVAC installation and repair business.

If you enjoyed this article about how to become an HVAC technician, check out our blog for more great content.


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