How to Become an HVAC Technician: The Complete Guide

Updated on January 14, 2024

Considering a hands-on career installing, maintaining, and repairing essential heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in homes and commercial buildings? As infrastructure ages across cities requiring upgraded climate control tech plus new green buildings get constructed, skilled HVAC techs have never seen higher demand.

This guide covers standard steps to begin working in HVAC, including education, licensing, responsibilities, and earning potential.

What Does an HVAC Technician Do?

An HVAC technician focuses on delivering flawless environmental comfort through:

Meticulous technical aptitude and customer service represent must-have abilities for HVAC success.

Education and Training Requirements

Common education pathways into the field include:

  1. High School Technical Training Many high schools now offer specialized HVAC courses teaching essential skills within broader building trades programs through hands-on practice. These lay solid foundations before higher commitments.
  2. Community College or Vocational Programs
    Formal 1 to 2-year HVAC technology associate degree or certificate programs offer in-depth air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating fundamentals – vastly accelerating preparation for entry-level technician roles compared to onsite shadowing alone.
  3. Apprenticeships Apprenticeships let aspiring HVAC technicians get paid while immediately putting academic concepts into direct practice alongside seasoned mentors – culminating in journeyman status after 3-5 years. This route means earning while learning.

Gaining Relevant HVAC Certifications

Industry credentials cement core competencies and signal dedication through voluntary certification exams like:

  1. EPA Section 608 Refrigerant Handling Required for purchasing or handling refrigerants would demonstrate a proper methodology for managing substances harming the atmosphere if leaks happen.
  2. HVAC Excellence or NATE These test critical specialty knowledge for installation, troubleshooting, maintenance, air balancing, and distribution best practices.

Getting Licensed to Practice Legally

Finally, regulations mandate that HVAC practitioners carry valid licenses confirming their technical abilities to protect customer safety. Requirements vary regionally but generally encompass:

On the Job Training

Both newly licensed and uncertified assistants develop practical skills under watch by accepting supplemental jobs like:

Career Prospects and Salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics sees over 4% HVAC job growth through 2031 owing to population expansion and infrastructure modernization needs. Meanwhile, over 75,000 current techs approach retirement annually, causing labor shortfalls. Salaries span $40,000 – $75,000 for qualified technicians able also to sell maintenance agreements. With further mastery and client bases, six-figure proprietor incomes become feasible for owning firms.

In summary, heating/cooling roles promise decades of reliable livelihoods, solving ubiquitous challenges via elemental technical fundamentals mildly physically demanding for those comfortable working solo or leading teams.


What education is required to become an HVAC technician?

HVAC technicians can qualify through community college associate’s degree programs, vocational certificates, registered apprenticeships, or focused high school technical courses – all of which teach building environmental systems.

How long does HVAC technician training take?

The training period spans nine months to 5 years, depending on the pace of completion for any necessary HVAC certificates/degrees plus apprenticeship experience hour minimums required before qualifying for licensing.

What does an HVAC technician do daily?

Daily tasks include installing, maintaining, and repairing heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, ventilation, and related piping, ducting, and control systems based on diagrams, specifications, manufacturer instructions, and building codes.

What is the average HVAC technician’s salary?

The typical HVAC technician’s yearly salary ranges from $40,000 for assistants up to over $75,000 for lead technicians able to sell commercial maintenance contracts and specialty work. Proprietors can reach six figures in earnings.