Are you interested in HVAC Technician certification training? This guide will cover everything you need to know about becoming certified, and the training and requirements needed.
With a projected outlook of nearly 415,000 employed HVAC installers and mechanics by 2018, it may be a good idea to consider taking a career in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Nearly all buildings rely on some kind of climate-control or refrigeration system to heat and cool the inside all year round.
This means the demand for repair and maintenance work is stable, and it becomes especially prevalent in the hottest and coldest months when we rely on heating and cooling the most. HVAC technicians are also growing in demand as technology changes.
Many systems are integrating more complex systems that can involve computers and electronics. These technically complex machines and systems also require more qualified and knowledgeable technicians. The ever-evolving and constantly-changing set of systems and technologies always allow for growth, improvement, and mobility in the field.
This technological evolution is also coupled with a growing ecological consciousness. We want systems to be eco-friendly as well as economically friendly. Systems are now aiming to reduce pollution as they work.
If you are concerned about the pay, at a median wage of almost $48,000, become an HVAC technician can offer some stability looking for a trade or just looking for a career to enter.
This is just the median salary. Your salary as a technician depends on your experience, certifications, and education. With more certifications, and with more experience, your salary can continue to grow as you become a more valuable and well-rounded HVAC technician.
Whether you are looking at becoming an HVAC technician or you already are an HVAC technician, you should always consider the certifications that are out there and what they can do for your career.
This guide will give you some information and advice on the kinds of certifications that HVAC technicians can get, why those certifications might be important, how to go about getting those certifications, and other tips about additional learning opportunities as an HVAC technician.
This guide is aimed to help you make decision about your own future as a technician and whether or not certifications and additional learning is suitable for you. If so, we can offer you some information on how to purse those extra certifications and that secondary education
Being an HVAC technician can be a very rewarding job, and these are just a few steps to help you become an HVAC technician or boost your career if you already are one.
What is an HVAC Certification License? Is It Important?
While this may seem intimidating, this phrase simply means that all HVAC technicians are trained to a point where they are qualified to undergo and perform repairs and installation within the regions where they live.
Having an HVAC certification license means that a technician passed a standard and certified examination testing his or her knowledge and understanding of the trade and its basic scientific principles.
HVAC certification licenses are important because they demonstrate the HVAC technician’s understanding of how HVAC systems work and both the science and mechanics behind the systems with which they are working.
Having the certification also makes you more valuable. You can work on a broader range of projects, which means you can expand your business and clientele. You can diversify your skill portfolio and charge more.
If you are becoming an HVAC technician, or already are one, you should always consider obtaining additional or specialized certifications for the benefit of your career.
What are the HVAC License Requirements?
Federal law does not list any specific mandatory certifications for HVAC technicians. Instead, states and local governances require technicians to hold certifications and license that they decide upon for their own governmental bodies and areas of control
These requirements can clearly different between states and between local governances.
However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does have one mandated certification that all HVAC technicians and experts must hold in order to practice and go out in the field.
Otherwise, the required licenses vary between states, and these can be obtained by different bodies of government or agencies of regulation.
Therefore, it is imperative that HVAC technicians who are practicing or looking to practice always research the mandated license and certification requirements in the place where they reside and work.
Some states ask or require that technicians pass an examination to demonstrate knowledge in both the trade and the basic science and math skills implemented in the field.
This information can usually be obtained through the appropriate regulatory or governing websites, or you can call the agencies or organizations directly for information on what licenses and certifications are required for technicians.
At a basic and fundamental level, HVAC technician need an HVAC certificate from an accredited program or an accredited governing body, which could be a license approved by the state. Depending on what kind of work you want to do, you may also need additional certifications for that specific skill within the field for air, ventilation, and air conditioning.
The typical way to begin work as a licensed HVAC technician is to get a GED, an HVAC certification from an accredited school or trade program, the HVAC license from your state, and then pass the necessary examinations for the specialization and careers in which you are working
What Kinds of Certifications or Licenses Can I Get?
The most basic certification is the HVAC certification license, which you receive after taking a proficiency exam. Once you pass this exam, you are licensed to work as a technician. However, there are other certifications that you can obtain as well.
Regardless of what you do, technicians have to have the EPA certification. This is the Section 608 Refrigeration Recycling Rule, which notes that all HVAC technicians who have the potential to release CFC’s into the air or into the environment must hold a certification from the EPA.
It is essential and necessary that all technicians have a 608 card, allowing them to handle refrigerants and other chemicals that could be harmful to humans and the environment. It is understandable why all technicians should have this card.
Under the 608 Refrigeration Recycling Rule, there are four different types of certifications. All of these certifications require you to study for and pas san exam. After successful completion, you receive all the certifications.
Luckily, this certification does not expire and does not need to be renewed.
Organizations That Offer HVAC Licenses and Certifications to Technicians
There are several accredited, established, and recognized organizations that can offer technicians licenses and certifications.
One of these organizations is the North American Technical Excellence (NATE) organization. It is considered one of the primary and most well-known organization for licensing and certifying technicians.
Another well-known agency that is established as reputable is HVAC Excellence. This agency offers the recognition of HVAC technicians with exceptional technical skills. The HVAC Excellence certification and recognition are aimed to flaunt both your practice experience in the field as well as your scientific and theoretical knowledge of HVAC systems and their functions.
The HVAC Excellence Certification can only be received by technicians with at least 2 years of experience in an HVAC position or HVAC-related field.
The Refrigeration and Service Engineers Society (RSES) is also a well-established organization. It partners with NATE for extensive and rigorous testing. These certifications and tests highlight your expertise and show that you offer professional service that has a high quality of standard.
While there may be other organizations that can offer certifications or licenses, these are the most well-known and reliable organizations to go for certifications. They are seen as reputable and their certifications and licenses are more widely accepted and recognized.
What are the Different HVAC Certifications and Licenses I Can Get from NATE?
Nate offers 22 different certifications in the field of HVVAC. These certifications are valid up to five years. They demonstrate your knowledge and specialization in a particular part of the field. More importantly, they add significant value to you as a technician.
Getting NATE certifications is not necessarily an easy process, which also tells you about the seriousness and credibility of their certifications.
In order to begin the process of receiving a certification, you must first take and pass a core examination. This test includes the basics and fundamentals of the field and its theoretical ideas. The test covers safety, basic science (like chemistry, electrical terms, and laws of gas), tools, surrounding environmental conditions (like humidity), and basic electricity.
However, if your NATE certification is up-to-date, then you are considered qualified and do not have to take the core test. This test will have to be retaken if your NATE certification is not current.
If you pass the core examination, then you begin to take the specialty tests. There are a few different specialty paths that can be taken. The specialties are categorized under the umbrella terms: installation, service, and senior.
These specialty exams are 100 questions and have a two-and-a-half-hour time limit. These larger categories then cover special topics that technicians can choose to test in. The following are just some of the special topics:
- Oil Heating Service
- Hydronics Oil Service
- Heat Pump (air-to-air) Service
- Air Distribution Service
- Light Commercial Refrigeration Service
- Senior Level Efficiency Analyst
- Commercial Refrigeration Service
- Air Conditioning Service
- Air Conditioning Service (Spanish)
- Hydronics Gas Service
After you can pass two of the specialty exams offered by NATE, such as in the topics above, you are then allowed to take a senior level exam for a senior level certification. You will need to take and pass the HVAC Efficiency Analyst examination.
The HVAC Efficiency Analyst exam has a longer 4-hour time limit. The test itself includes questions on air distribution, system performance, hydronic distribution, kinds of planned maintenance, and processes of equipment selection.
Nate also offers a “ready-to-work certification,” which tests new technicians on the fundamentals of professionalism, equipment, safety, and HVAC systems.
There is also an “HVAC Support Technician Certificate,” which is for those with only 6-12 moths of experience. The exam is broader and covers more information than the ready-to-work exam. After passing the exam, you will then hold a HVAC Support Technician Certificate, which is recognized and accepted as a credible certification throughout the profession.
NATE is a great source of information for continuing education and different certifications that are available to HVAC technicians. Their certifications are recognized as high achievements in the field, and they assuredly add value to you as a skilled technician.
Those with NATE certification may endure a long process of testing and studying, but the certifications are highly coveted and revered. It is in your best interest to look into certifications that you can obtain through NATE. They could significantly change your career and your workflow.
Even if you do not care about the career benefits, the certifications can simply better you as a worker and tradesperson. They will help you build your overall knowledge and better hone your craft. This means you will do a better job in the field.
Other Certifications You Can Get as an HVAC Technician
There are many different types of HVAC certifications, as seen by the certifications offered by NATE alone. It is essential to know which ones are mandatory for the kind of work you plan to do. Below are just some of the certifications you can obtain:
- EPA Type 1 – This allows to service small appliance
- EPA Type 2 – This allows to service high pressure systems
- EPA Type 3 – This allows to service low pressure systems
- Universal EPA Certificate
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
What are the Benefits of Becoming HVAC Certified and Having Licenses?
There are several different reasons that becoming certified and obtaining a number of licenses would be beneficial to your profession and yourself.
There are a few of the benefits, but it not limited to these reasons:
- You become more valuable that other HVAC technicians that do not have the certifications that you do
- You increase your clientele because as you have more skill sets you can work on a broader and more diverse range of projects
- You increase your potential earnings because some certifications allow you to be paid more or receive a pay increase.
- You demonstrate your knowledge and capabilities to others and have more potential projects to show that
- Contractors and those starting HVAC businesses show more knowledge, credibility, and professionalism with a certification
- It makes others feel better about hiring you if they know you are certified and/or licensed
Since the field of HVAC is on the rise, having certifications and licenses will give you a competitive edge over others that have not obtained those documents.
HVAC Schools, Classes, and Training Programs. Is it Worth It?
Most technicians some kind of education. A GED is usually required as well as training in a trade school before you can receive your HVAC license.
Being formally trained at a trade school or program is important because it is in these programs that you are given hands-on experience that build your skills so you can perform the job successfully with clientele.
Trade programs teach necessary skills, like dealing with electricals and plumbing, using the tools effectively to strip wires and cut pipe. It also teaches you necessary safety regulations and codes that need to be followed during projects.
Training at school also leads to better understandings of scientific principles, like physics and thermodynamics, needed to be successful on the job. Having an educational background also makes clients and companies feel better about hiring you, as you demonstrate theoretical and practice understanding.
Having the formal education also signals that you have been trained as a problem-solver, so you can adapt and think about how to solve problems efficiently and effectively. Along with certifications, having education makes you more valuable and validates your abilities as an HVAC technician.
If you are wondering if it is worth it, the answer is “yes.” Having formal training will make you more successful and knowledgeable in the field. It will give you fundamental skills that you need to have, and that will allow you to grow in the profession.
Can I Become an HVAC Technician and Get Certifications Online?
Online classes seem appealing to most people. Making the time to drive to school and sit in classes can be hard, especially for full-time workers. The cost of school can be expensive. However, technology has allowed us to remove some of those financial barriers sand time constraints.
Technology has certainly allowed certifications, licenses, schooling, and information to be more accessible. There are benefits and downsides to taking HVAC certifications and classes online, and you should fully research courses and accreditation before signing up.
Moreover, you should also consider your own learning processes. Online learning does not work well for most people. If you are a hands-on learner, or learn well with someone talking to you, then you may do better taking a face-to-face class.
What are the Benefits of Online HVAC Certifications?
There are number of benefits to online learning, despite the fact that online learning can be intimidating. There are a number of online courses, and some may not be legitimate. It is always best to research the program and where it is coming from.
Make sure the program is accredited and coming from a legitimate source. Read their program’s objectives and trajectory.
Some programs complete and end with a certification or license examination. Assess your needs and fine a program that fits your goals.
With these in mind, one of the benefits of online classes is better flexibility and more freedom. There is a larger spectrum of choices in both time and classes. You usually not set to follow a strict schedule establish by administration.
Instead, you can work from home at your own pace and in your own time. This is also good because it means you do not have to spend time or money commuting to school. You can still hold a job, which means you can make money while you are still attending classes and learning.
The teacher is usually accessible and willing to answer questions via email. There are many resources available to you, and technical support can help you through any technical problems you encounter with the class.
In general, they also cost less and offer scholarships or financial aid for some.
To summarize the benefits of online courses:
- Work at your own pace
- Can continue to work as you learn
- No commute
- Still have access to the instructor
- Still have access to resources
- Access to technical support
What are the Downsides of Online Learning and HVAC Certifications?
There are several downsides to online certifications in HVAC. These downsides may be significant depending on how you learn and what opportunities you are looking for.
Some states and programs require an apprenticeship for licenses and certifications. Master level licenses often require an apprenticeship. Therefore, having hands-on experience is crucial to progressing in the profession.
Another in-person task is the examination. The HVAC examinations usually require you to go to a certified location where the test is proctored. Final examinations for most state licensing cannot be taken online. They must be done in-person.
Regardless of whether or not your course is online or in-person, everyone is required to take the exam face-to-face in a designated spot.
Which Certifications Can I Get Online?
There are very few certifications that can be obtain solely through online methods. However, there are a few.
A few of the NATE certifications can be completed via online methods, but they need to be done through pre-approved programs or courses.
The EPA Section 608 certification can be completed online. The Type I certification can be done through online methods because it is technically can open-book test. It can be done in a testing center, if you prefer taking tests in person. However, this one certification can be completed in an online testing center.
However, the other types of EPA certifications cannot be done online because they are given strictly in person in a monitored area.
How Long are the HVAC Programs?
The length of the program depends on the kind of education you are receiving and where you are.
Some schools offer significantly focused programs that move quickly. Certain community colleges try to offer a 9- to 10-month program that allows you to earn your diploma by the end.
Typically, HVAC programs, along with the Associate degree, take two years to complete. These two years will give you fundamental knowledge needed to be successful as a technician.
Those getting a bachelor’s degree will be in school to up to four years; however, getting a bachelor’s degree is not necessary unless you want to eventually become an engineer.
What Does it Cost to Become an HVAC Technician?
The cost of trade school and trade programs vary depending on accreditation, location, and what the program offers.
Typically, programs cost between $12,000 and $13,0000. However, more prestigious schools can cost up to $30,000. These programs offer both the name and more stringent training that will make you stand out in your field.
Many schools offer tuition waivers, scholarships, or grants for students in need or to students with exceptional records. You can always check with your school to see if you are applicable for any scholarships or aid.
Like most schools, in-state tuition is much cheaper than out-of-state tuition. Depending on your financial situation, it may be ideal to look at in-state schools for cost-effectiveness.
You may also consider what the program is offering. Some programs have the final examination fee built into the program fee. That means you will not be paying for the final examination out of pocket at the end.
Becoming an HVAC Technician or Expert
As you can see there is room for growth and movement in the field of HVAC. If you are not an HVAC technician, you may seriously consider taking up the trade as a stable profession. As long as there are buildings, there will be a need for HVAC technicians.
It can be both challenging and reward to work in HVAC. While you may work in less than glamourous conditions, you are doing work that many people depend on for survival. Some people would not be able to survive without heat or air condition in the home, especially those with serious medical conditions.
Being an HVAC technician does take a little bit of work, but it is nothing that cannot be overcome with determination and a little hard work. It is achievable, and it a good profession currently to pursue.
If you already are a technician, begin to think about how you can increase your professionalism and value as a technician. You can go back to school or you can begin to obtain the certifications that have already been discussed above.
Getting certified as a technician, especially in different specializations, is one of the best moves you can make. It opens you to more possibilities as a technician and allows you more freedom over the kinds of projects you can do and can take on.
With so many benefits, there is no reason you shouldn’t consider studying for and passing those exams.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get my licenses and certifications entirely online?
Typically, no. Some of the tests require that you go to a designated center that proctors the test. The second and third type of EPA certification require that you be physically present to take the test. Many state licenses require an in-person test. You can study and get a degree online, but you typically cannot get all of your licenses and certifications through online methods.
What is an HVAC engineer? How is it different?
An HVAC engineer has a significantly different job. The HVAC engineer is essentially the architect of the HVAC system being installed or repaired. Meanwhile, the HVAC technician is the builder. The technician follows the engineer’s design. The technician is in the field while the engineer is typically in an office.
Do I need a college degree to be a technician?
You are only required to have a GED in order to be a technician; however, it looks better and makes you more valuable to have at least an associate degree. Some students pursue a bachelor’s degree, but this is unnecessary for fundamental skill and certification.
I’m interested in becoming an HVAC technician. Where do I start?
There are a few places where you can start. One place to start is to look at the requirements in your state for HVAC technicians. This can be a guiding force. The only thing you an do is look for trade schools around you that train technicians. You an begin there.
How much do HVAC technicians get paid?
The salary of an HVAC technician truly depends on the technician’s experience, credentials, and location. However, on average, an HVAC technician makes around $48,000 a year. This can fluctuate depending on levels of experience.
Do all states require an HVAC license?
No. Not all states require an HVAC license. In fact, there are many states that do not require a HVAC license.
These include: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Main, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, New York, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. These do not require licenses.
However, some local governments may require licenses to work at the county-level.
What is the Highest license or certification that I can get?
The high level of license you can receive is the “master” title. They often guide apprentices.
Should I be a technician or HVAC engineer?
The answer to this question truly depends on you as a person. Engineer’s design the systems. They hold more management responsibility alongside theoretical concepts and design. They are also paid higher than even the highest-paying technician.
Technicians work in cramped, tight, and less-than-welcoming places. On the other hand, engineers mostly work in office and sometimes meet with clients.
If you like more hands-on work of fixing and installing, then a technician might be the best route for you. If you like more conceptual thought and designing and drawing, then an engineer might be the best route for you.