HVAC technician jobs are in-demand. That’s because heating, ventilation, and air conditioning are systems that all buildings must have, whether they’re old or new, commercial or residential. And they are systems that need maintenance throughout the life of any building. So, how do you become an HVAC technician?
According to the HVAC Classes websites, the following steps are required to become a HVAC technician:
- Earn a high school diploma or GED (four years)
- Join and complete an accredited HVAC program (six months to two years)
- Complete an apprenticeship (optional, three to five years)
- Become an HVAC technician and continue to work in the field (one to two years)
- Achieve professional certification (timeline varies)
While you don’t need a professional certification, having it helps you stand out from other technicians. It will also help put your resume at the top of a pile when you’re applying for jobs. According to Indeed, there are currently four possible certifications that the nonprofit North American Technician Excellence (NATE) offers.
- Ready-to-Work Certificate:
This is a first-level certificate that tests for basic, entry-level skills. Topics covered include tools, measurements and units, electrical safety, basic heat transfer, and general safety. You will have 90 minutes to answer 50 questions.
- HVAC Support Technician Certificate:
The certification is for people with more than 6 months, but less than two years of experience. You’ll be asked about safety, tools, basic construction terms, basic science knowledge, and taking climate control measurements such as temperature and humidity. You get 2.5 hours to complete a hundred questions.
- Core & Specialty Tests Certificate:
This certificate is for people with over 2 years of on-the-job experience and is a prerequisite for any other specialized tests at NATE. The test covers safety, tools, basic construction, basic science, achieving desired conditions, taking temperature and humidity measurements and basic electricity. You have 90 minutes to answer 50 questions.
- Senior Level Efficiency Analyst Certification:
This certification is for senior-level technicians with at least five years of experience, who have at least two NATE specialty certifications. The test covers load calculation, equipment selection, air distribution, hydronic distribution, system performance, indoor air and environment control and planned maintenance. You’ll get 4 hours to complete a hundred questions.
Getting Your License
Every state has different time and experience requirements before you can become a licensed HVAC technician.
Why get a license? Though you might not need one to work in the field, it will make you more valuable to an employer. And if you’re looking to start your own business eventually, you’ll need one. Some states ask that you, the owner, be the one that holds the license. Other states ask that you have at least one employee who is licensed.