HVAC technicians or engineers can receive certification either through attending a trade school or technical school, or by receiving equivalent experience through an apprenticeship program. HVAC technician certification will certainly help in career advancement in this field, for which demand continues to be steady as there is always a need for heating and air conditioning. HVAC technicians install, repair and maintain these services, and HVAC programs will provide the necessary skills required to service commercial as well as home units.
What do HVAC certified technicians do?
HVAC trade school graduates carry out a range of tasks, which include installing and repairing furnaces, solar panels, oil burners or other related machinery; installing and repairing air conditioning and heating systems, water and fuel lines, heating and cooling ducts and vents; combustion testing; maintenance of thermostats and burners; conducting inspections of heating and air conditioning systems; maintaining commercial refrigeration systems; reviewing specifications and blueprints for related equipment; and ensuring safety standards.
HVAC licensing, certification and training programs
HVAC trade schools provide comprehensive training which can lead to HVAC technician certification. However, you can also obtain training through an HVAC apprenticeship. If you go for formal training, trade school programs can range in length from six months to two years. Community colleges also offer HVAC courses. Typical courses you would take in an HVAC training program would include: maintenance and installation of systems; electronics; equipment construction; theory of design; repair and maintenance procedures; pipe cutting and soldering; insulation and furnace materials.
HVAC licensing is mandatory for technicians who handle and purchase refrigerants. You can take an HVAC exam administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency to become certified for this. The EPA HVAC certification exam covers three main areas: 1) Small appliances, 2) Low pressure refrigerants, and 3) High pressure refrigerants. You can get certified through the North American Technical Excellence or NATE Board. Certification will allow you to rise higher in your HVAC career, as it will allow you to take managerial positions such as team supervisor or cost estimator.
Online HVAC certification
You do not have to sit in a bricks and mortar classroom to get your HVAC technician certification. You can obtain online HVAC certification where you study the industry rules and regulations through independent study, and receive your HVAC certificate through the Air Conditioning Excellence Program.
How early can you start training for a career as an HVAC technician? It is not too early to start even in high school. Students interested in an HVAC career can take subjects like electronics, plumbing, computer application, mechanical drawing and electrical work. It is also important to learn business techniques like drawing up contracts.
HVAC trade school accreditation
HVAC trade schools get accredited through the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology. Each school offering HVAC training also has to comply with federal, state and local regulations for accreditation. The Air Conditioning Excellence program is administered by The North American Technician Excellence or NATE board.
How much can an HVAC certified technician earn, and what are the employment prospects?
HVAC trade school graduates have promising career prospects, as there will always be a need for skilled professionals in the heating and air conditioning fields. The HVAC field is expected to have a good rate of growth through at least 2012, and likely beyond. Areas of emphasis now and in the future are likely to be in energy efficiency, green technologies, and maintaining systems currently in use. Earnings vary with experience, certification and region. The median entry level salary of an HVAC certified technician in the US is around $43,000 annually as of 2010, but experienced professionals could be pulling in over $80,000.