In the United States, all HVAC technicians must be certified and to become certified, they need to complete the Air-Conditioning Excellence program.
In the next few paragraphs, we are going to explain the most effective way to obtain employment as an HVAC technician.
To begin with, you should earn your high school diploma. While it is possible to become a technician without one, you will obviously be a major disadvantage. It will also make it impossible to do your training at a trade school or at a community college.
The next thing you should do is find an assistant or helper job with a licensed HVAC company. Though you paycheck won't be much to write home about, the job is merely a stepping stone to bigger and better things. But you shouldn't take it for granted because even though employment as a helper doesn't pay well you will receive invaluable experience that will help in your future career. After all, a helper is a step away from being an apprentice, and many times helpers do go on to successful careers in the industry.
It goes almost without saying that while you are working as a helper you should do your best to learn as much as you possibly can about the business. Instead of a classroom, technicians in training almost always learn on the job. So, ask a lot of questions and learn the ropes.
To make yourself a more attractive candidate, you can supplement your experience as a helper with in-class training at a community college or vocational school. Heating, refrigeration and air conditioning are popular subjects at these schools, so you should have no problem locating a proper program. These courses generally take between two and four semesters to complete.
After you have gained some experience as a helper and taken some classes, you may decide you want to work at a company that offers a formal apprenticeship. A formal apprenticeship is one that is recognized by the Air-Conditioning Contractors of America, or other national trade organizations. Becoming an apprentice isn't easy as these positions are highly prized; and the reason they are prized is because apprenticeship is the most sure-fire way to become a certified HVAC technician.
If you are fortunate enough to obtain an apprenticeship, you should know that the program is no walk in the park. The standard apprenticeship program combines intensive job training with advanced classes and courses of study; and it takes at least three years to complete.
At the end of the program, however, you will be a certified HVAC technician. As we mentioned, apprenticeship is the most reliable way to become a technician because if you finish the program, you are one! But if you cannot obtain a formal apprenticeship, don't panic, you can still become a certified HVAC technician by fulfilling the professional requirements specified by the Air Conditioning Excellence Coalition or the North American Technician Excellence program.
Simply visit their website to read up on the requirements you will need to fulfill in order to become an HVAC without a formal apprenticeship.
Many technicians worry that they will be at a disadvantage if they choose to go the alternate route and do not complete a formal apprenticeship. But this doesn't seem to be much of an issue. While it is true that getting a job with an apprenticeship on your record is probably a bit easier, because you will likely be hired by the company that trained you, there really is more than enough work to go around, and certified HVAC technicians are in short supply.
This brings us to salary. Because, as you have seen, there is quite a bit of training and schooling and since it is a rapidly industry and demand is high, certified HVAC technicians are generally well paid. The average salary for a technician is $45,000.
However, just like in many other industries, technicians have areas that they specialize in, and the more experience it takes to complete that job, the better the pay. For example, the average HVAC refrigeration or air conditioning technician makes about $44,000. But a more experienced HVAC air balancing technician can earn over $73,000.