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What You Need To Know About A Career As An HVAC Technician

by Felix Armstrong

Not everyone wants to go to college for a four-year, arts or science degree. Plenty of people are mechanically-inclined and prefer to work with their hands instead. There are many career paths to take, including working in the building trades as an HVAC technician. 

What is HVAC?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This career field encompassing anyone who works with heating and air conditioning, including plumbers and refrigeration mechanics. In fact, it is sometimes referred to as HVACR or HVAC/R, which includes the term refrigeration. 

How do you become an HVAC technician?

Requirements for HVAC training and test prep vary by state. Most states require a high school diploma or GED, as well as some post-secondary training. The training could be a six to twelve-month program at a local trade school or a two-year associate's degree program at a community college that includes general education and business courses as well as HVAC training. You may even have access to an apprenticeship program through a local HVAC union, which includes on-the-job training. 

Do you need to be certified to work as an HVAC technician?

While it varies again by state, most states require that HVAC technicians be certified. This certification is accomplished by passing an HVAC exam. Your training — whichever method you chose — should have prepared you for the exam. There are also HVAC test prep courses you can take both in-person and online.

It is important to note that even if your state does not require an HVAC exam, the United States Environmental Protection Agency requires that anyone working with refrigerants is certified. 

What is the HVAC test?

While the format of your exam and the number of questions on it will vary from state to state, most states have tests for becoming a journeyman, master, or contractor. Each test is progressively harder and meant for HVAC technicians with an increasing number of years in the field.   

Is there advanced training for HVAC?

Once you have several years of experience under your belt, you may want to get additional certification from NATE, North American Technician Excellence, a non-profit trade organization for anyone working in the HVACR field. 

Is HVAC a good career in 2021?

A career in a skilled trade is always a good career that you can count on. In fact, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 4 percent growth in the need for HVAC technicians nationwide between now and 2029. That roughly translates to a need for 15,000 more certified HVAC techs. 

If a career in HVAC interests you, talk to your local trade school or community college about training and HVAC test prep today.