It’s not be required for every person who works in the heating and air industry to become heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) certified, but it is required if you want to become a HVAC technician or mechanic. Technicians typically specialize in installing or repairing units, even though they are trained to do both. Some technicians also specialize in specific types of equipment, like solar panels or hydronics. In addition to heating, vents and air conditioning units, people with HVAC certification are qualified to work in the refrigeration field, and can even specialize in large-scale projects like commercial refrigeration units. In order to become a certified HVAC technician, you need to attend classes and then pass a state-mandated certification test.
Benefits of HVAC Certification
Obtaining your HVAC certification has numerous benefits. Not only does the certification entitle you to a bigger paycheck, but it enables you to specialize in specific areas of the industry. While those looking to specialize in the heating aspects of the industry only need to obtain their HVAC certification, those looking to specialize in air conditioning and refrigeration need to also obtain their EPA certification. If you’re planning on starting your own business, obtaining the certification benefits you immensely because customers often turn to contractors who are certified before they will hire someone who doesn’t have a HVAC certification.
HVAC Certification Requirements
HVAC technicians are required to complete HVAC training. Classes typically range from six months to two years, depending on how in-depth the course you choose is. Most states require HVAC technicians to be certified or licensed. In order to get your certification you need to take and pass the state exam, once your classes are complete. There are two agencies that offer national certifications, North American Technicians Excellence (NATE), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA offers CFC certifications that range from working on small appliances, low pressure appliances and medium to very high pressure appliances as well as the national certification. There is no uniform certification for HVAC within the United States but many companies know about and recognize NATE as well as the EPA.
Areas to Specialize In
Everyone attending HVAC certification classes is trained in all areas of the business; however, many people choose to specialize in one area of the industry so that it’s easier to market their skills. Not only is it easier to market your skills as a specialist, but customers tend to trust a specialist more than they do someone who simply obtains general knowledge of the industry. Numerous areas of expertise are available. They range from the type of appliances (large or small) to the type of applicances (heating, air or refrigeration.) Some techs also specialize in installing or repairing solar panels or other alternative heating sources.
The average HVAC salary is $45,000. However HVAC salaries vary by company, industry, experience, location and benefits. The salary also will change if you work in a specialized field. For example an HVAC installer may only make $24,000 where a HVAC engineer averages $60,000 a year.
HVAC Certification Costs
The cost for HVAC certification varies depending on the training program you take. It also depends on which exam you take and your state’s licensing fees. You will want to contact a training school in your area or visit a website to determine the costs. The average range for the state exam fee ranges between $60.00 to $120.00, but could be more or less in the state you live in.
Every state has its own regulations for HVAC certification. You will need to check with your local and state electrical board to see what the requirements are for the HVAC certification in your area. There are some states that don’t require certification. Other states have local certification and not state certification. Some states may have licenses along with the HVAC certifications. Any HVAC technician that works with refrigerants has to take special testing for a license in refrigeration specialization. You will want to familiarize yourself with your states regulations before you begin school to become an HVAC technician. That way you can ensure that you are taking the right courses and not wasting your time or money.
Where to get your HVAC training
There are many trade schools and tech schools that offer training for HVAC. You need to make sure the school is accredited before you begin classes. Most programs take six months to one year to complete. Once you complete the classes you are ready to take the state certification test. Once you have completed your training you must then complete an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship program may take up to four years to complete. There are some unions or organizations like the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PHCC) or the Air Conditioning Contractors of America that sponsor apprenticeship programs. These programs combine the classroom work with the field training. There are also some online schools that offer HVAC training. The online schools are cheaper than many of the tech or trade schools. Most of your training will happen on the job but you still need the schooling to be able to pass the certification test.
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