Training and Education
- Certificates and associate degree programs from community colleges and technical schools can be valuable in gaining employment.
- Many employers prefer candidates with a certificate or degree or that are from a formal apprenticeship.
- Many of the programs provide traditional classroom learning and computer-simulated and hands-on practical learning.
- HVAC training programs take from six months to two years to complete.
HVAC apprentice programs typically last from three to five years. Apprenticeship programs are often operated by joint committees representing local chapters of various organizations.
What you study:
- Automated HVAC controls
- Motors and motor controls
- HVAC system maintenance
- Cold water air conditioners and domestic appliances
- Electricity basics
- Installation of HVAC systems
- Air quality problem solving
- Industrial and commercial refrigeration systems
What courses you’ll take
Below are examples of courses that you’ll likely take as an HVAC certificate or degree student.
|Fundamentals of Air Conditioning and Refrigeration||Theory and applications of air conditioning and refrigeration including thermodynamic cycles devices accessories and refrigerants.||Give the core knowledge needed for more advanced studies and AC troubleshooting.|
|Air Conditioning and Refrigeration II||Covers advanced topics related to commercial systems including heat load calculations installation low temperature systems and multiple system installations.||Prepare students for working on the more complex HVAC systems typical to commercial applications.|
|Fundamentals of Controls||Basics of how electrical controls work as a system and as individual components. Teaches skills for using test meters ladder diagrams wiring diagramsand thermostats. More advanced topics review both pneumatic and electronic controls and their servicing and maintenance.||Provide underlying knowledge for installing and servicing a variety of HVAC control systems.|
|Basics of Heating Systems||Introduces principles of heating technologies and appliances including for forced-air fuel gas oil electrical heat pumps and combustion processes. Reviews both residential and commercial applications. Codes and venting and piping practices are covered.||Foundation knowledge for more advanced heating systems studies and labs.|
|Heating Systems II||More advanced topics studied include humidifiers air cleaners oil tanks and testing.||Ready students to undertake installation servicing and troubleshooting of a variety of heating systems.|
|Steam and Hot Water Systems||Reviews hot water and steam systems typical in residential and commercial installations including boilers pipes circulators heat exchangers traps and controls.||Get students ready to install and maintain steam and hot water systems.|
|Duct Layout and Fabrication||Basics of sheet metal layout and fabrication as applied to HVAC duct work.||Ready students to install and repair HVAC duct work.|
A quick intro of the work of HVAC techs. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.
Certifications and Licensing
In some states and localities HVAC technicians must be licensed. Also the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all technicians who purchase or work with refrigerants to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. Numerous trade schools employer associations and unions provide training programs designed for the EPA exam.
HVAC technicians who complete relevant coursework and have less than two years of experience are eligible to take "entry-level" certification exams. Those with at least one year of installation experience and two years of maintenance and repair experience can take specialized exams.
Numerous organizations provide certification exams which can be taken at technical schools. Certifications show a technician has specific competencies. Some employers look for industry-certified HVACR technicians.
Full-time versus part-time: HVACR technicians typically work 40 hours per week and may occasionally work evening or weekend shifts. During peak seasons they may work overtime and irregular hours. Only about four percent of the technicians work less than full-time. Some HVAC technicians are self-employed.
Work location: Depending on the company they work for HVAC technicians they may work in homes offices schools hospitals stores factories shopping malls and other locations. They often travel to several locations during a day making service calls. HVAC technicians typically work indoors but sometimes they may work outdoors on heat pumps and other type of equipment.
- The Air-conditioning Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) provides certification programs along with useful information about the programs. The General Operations Manual for AHRI Certification Programs covers the procedures and policies common to all AHRI Product Performance Certification Programs. Product specific operations manuals are available for every certification program. The website also provides a variety of useful resources.
- Air Conditioning Contractors of America provides information about education events and online learning. The website also provides information about certification programs and apprenticeship programs.
- HVAC Excellence a not-for-profit organization improves competency through validation of the technical education process. HVAC Excellence sets standards and insures they’ve been met. HVAC Excellence Programs discover areas of weakness in education. The organization also helps employers hire competent technicians. HVAC Excellence also provides two technician certifications.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook — Produced by the US Department of Labor this article on HVAC tech careers is comprehensive with various statistics and text-book like descriptions.
Salaries by City
See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.
|State||City / Region||Typical Salary||Salary Range||Job Count||% of All Jobs|
|AL||Anniston – Oxford||$38210||150||0.33%|
|AL||Auburn – Opelika||$35500||130||0.27%|
|AL||Birmingham – Hoover||$39360||1460||0.30%|
|AL||Florence – Muscle Shoals||$50570||150||0.29%|
|AR||Fayetteville – Springdale – Rogers||$43940||360||0.18%|
|AR||Little Rock – North Little Rock – Conway||$36060||880||0.27%|
|AZ||Lake Havasu City $ Kingman||$43450||80||0.18%|
|AZ||Phoenix – Mesa – Glendale||$52460||3460||0.20%|
|CA||Bakersfield – Delano||$55460||190||0.07%|
|CA||Hanford – Corcoran||$42810||40||0.12%|
|CA||Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)||$53030||3800||0.10%|
|CA||Madera – Chowchilla||$43720||40||0.10%|
|CA||Oakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)||$62870||1410||0.15%|
|CA||Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura||$37750||510||0.18%|
|CA||Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario||$50800||2160||0.19%|
|CA||Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville||$45540||1410||0.17%|
|CA||San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos||$52520||1350||0.11%|
|CA||San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)||$53220||N/A||N/A|
|CA||San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara||$58440||1220||0.14%|
|CA||Santa Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)||$48350||2000||0.14%|
|CA||Santa Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta||$68180||90||0.05%|
|CA||Santa Cruz – Watsonville||$41940||170||0.20%|
|CA||Santa Rosa – Petaluma||$48760||430||0.25%|
|CA||Vallejo – Fairfield||$48820||310||0.26%|
|CA||Visalia – Porterville||$43460||290||0.22%|
|CO||Denver – Aurora – Broomfield||$45720||1930||0.16%|
|CO||Fort Collins – Loveland||$43260||N/A||N/A|
|CT||Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk||$56120||810||0.20%|
|CT||Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford||$54270||1300||0.24%|
|CT||Norwich – New London||$46480||230||0.18%|
|DC||Washington – Arlington|