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What Does IT Take to Earn an HVAC License or Certification?

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians are responsible for keeping climates comfortable in businesses, residences or schools. If you would like to enter this field, you might first need to obtain a license and a professional certification in order to qualify for jobs and promotions. This article discusses how you might go about earning a license or certification.

HVAC Careers Overview

As an HVAC technician, you will install, repair and maintain heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. These systems are becoming more complex all the time because of technological advances. As such, you will probably need formal training to prepare for this career path. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers were expected to experience a 4% increase in job growth between 2019 and 2029, which means that job prospects might be favorable (www.bls.gov).

Important Facts About HVAC Careers

Work Environment Homes, schools, stores, hospitals, office buildings, or factories
Key Skills Install or repair HVAC systems, integrate HVAC system with other systems like water and fuel supply lines, install electrical wiring and controls, diagnose issues and repair/replace defective parts, identify ways to improve energy efficiency
Similar Occupations Plumbers, boilermakers, electricians, sheet metal workers
Median Salary (May 2020) $50,590*
Job Growth (2019-2029) 4%*

*Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training Options

Before you seek licensing or certification, you'll probably need some type of formal training. Technical schools and community colleges offer HVAC education programs, which usually last 6 months to 2 years. You could also join an apprenticeship program, which might be offered by local chapters of national organizations such as PHCC and Air Conditioning Contractors of America. Apprenticeships usually take between three and five years to complete and include hands-on, paid training.

Licenses and Certifications

Licensing is required for HVAC technicians in some states. Typically, you must provide proof of experience and pass an examination to become licensed. Some states may offer different levels of licensing that depend upon your experience and training.

In order to be Section 608-compliant, you may need certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if you will be working with or handling refrigerants. To obtain this EPA certification, you'll need to pass an examination at an EPA-approved testing center and gain certification for each category of refrigerant handling that you'll engage in.

Optional Credentials

You may consider voluntary, entry-level certifications, such as those offered by North American Technician Excellence. After you have accumulated some work experience, you may consider earning certifications through professional organizations such as HVAC Excellence, which offers professional-level and master specialist certifications. Voluntary certification may help you to demonstrate your skills. This is important because some employers may prefer to hire or offer advancement opportunities to employees who hold such certifications.