How To Get An HVAC Job As A Technician
Technicians for heating, ventilation and air conditioning or HVAC systems are responsible for working on any machine or device that controls or regulates the heat, coolness and ventilation in an area. Other than the overall temperature in the room, such systems have the ability to control the air quality and humidity levels as well.
You can find HVAC technicians working inside homes, schools, offices and even large structures such as corporations and factories. An HVAC job involves a combination of different tasks including the following:
- Reading blueprints
- Installing ventilation systems
- Testing components
- Making any repairs to the system
- Performing maintenance tasks
- Replacing parts
- Making sure that hazardous components such as refrigerants are handled according to local laws
If you are interested in becoming an HVAC technician, here is a guide to the things you need to do, along with tips to help you pursue that career.
How to become an HVAC technician
Step 1: Take the relevant courses in high school
Even during your high school years, you can take classes that will be beneficial in pursuing a career in the HVAC field. For courses under the general curriculum, you need to take a strong interest in your computer science classes and the hard sciences such as physics and chemistry. These subjects will help you when you take up additional training after high school.
If your school offers technical math, mechanical drawing, electronics, blueprint reading, shop classes or some form of vocational training, it would be beneficial if you take those as well. These courses, especially those that encourage you to work with your hands, will give you an advantage and make future training sessions easier.
Step 2: Get additional training
There are three possible ways you can get more relevant training. The first route involves HVAC schooling. This involves earning an associate’s degree or an HVAC certificate from an accredited trade school, technical academy or community college. The program can last anywhere from six months to two years depending on the institution offering it.
In school, you will get reading materials, do lab work, and have access to internships. Depending on the school, your program may cover the following topics:
- Basics of electricity
- How oil boilers and furnaces work
- The properties of gas
- The different types of solid fuels
- Ducts and piping
- How hydraulics work
- The different control systems
- Work site safety
Do your research on which schools or institutions offer HVAC training in your area. The information will also give you a better idea of the courses included in the program, prerequisites for enrollment, as well as any financial aid options.
If going to a community college, trade school or technical academy is not a viable option, another way to learn more about the field is by going for on-the-job training. For this to work, you will need to look for an active HVAC technician who is willing to hire you as an assistant.
Your tasks may vary depending on the type of work being done for that day. This may include carrying materials or parts to the site, insulating refrigerant lines and cleaning furnaces, among others. After some time, you may learn how to check electrical circuits for damage, and cut or solder pipes and sheet metal together. Some businesses and companies may even provide you with the training you need for your career. This includes giving you access to books, self-study courses and other materials.
Lastly, there is the apprenticeship approach. Not to be confused with on-the-job training, this option involves a mix of classroom instruction with an internship. Apprenticeships can last anywhere from three to five years. Courses may include learning about the different designs of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, how to care for tools, reading blueprints and safety practices. If you are interested in becoming an apprentice, check out and contact associations of HVAC technicians and contractors in your area.
Step 3: Acquire a license
Fulfilling this step depends on the laws in your state or country. In some areas, you may be allowed to work as an HVAC technician without a license while in other areas, you may be required to complete a formal training program and pass an exam first. The types of exams, the content and the agency or department issuing the exam may vary from one area to another. You will need to check local laws to see what the requirements are to practice and work as an HVAC technician.
Demand for HVAC technicians
Studies show that the demand for HVAC technicians continues to grow year after year. You can also use your knowledge and expertise in other fields as well. HVAC graduates can become plumbers, electricians or pipe fitters.
A career in the HVAC industry is ideal for people who love to learn. By working as an HVAC technician, you will get to do and accomplish something new and different on a daily basis. With the proper training, you too can become an HVAC technician and enjoy a rewarding job in the industry.