HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. An HVAC technician is responsible for all aspects of a building’s climate control system, ensuring that it maintains the proper temperature and humidity level. Some HVAC technicians work solely on residential equipment, others on commercial or industrial systems, and some do both. If you want to get into this industry, you will need to become certified. Here’s what you should know.
What Does an HVAC Technician Do?
HVAC technicians not only install climate control systems, but they are also responsible for maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair. You will work on equipment in both new construction and existing buildings. Smaller residential systems are typically quite simple, while large industrial systems can be highly complex. Either way, you must be an expert in all parts of the system.
How Do I Become an HVAC Technician?
First, you will need to earn a high school diploma or GED and then enroll in a training program. You can either enter a certification program, which typically takes less than a year to finish, or earn a two-year associate degree. As part of your training, you will typically complete an apprenticeship. This provides valuable on-the-job experience alongside a seasoned HVAC technician.
Next, you will need to become licensed in your state. Licensure requirements vary, but HVAC technicians in all states must pass the Section 608 Technician Certification exam. Required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this exam has three levels, depending on the specific type of equipment you plan to work on. It’s generally best to pass all three levels to keep your future career options open.
There are also four additional certifications offered by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) organization. While these are not required, they can be useful in helping you work your way up the career ladder. They range from an entry-level Ready-to-Work certificate to a Senior Level Efficiency Analyst Certification designed for those with significant experience.
An HVAC technician can be an excellent career choice. Pay rates are competitive, and the industry is largely recession-proof. But you will need to become certified before you begin, and gaining optional certifications as you go along can help you reach the highest levels of this career.
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