Across the country, there’s a growing demand for qualified and licensed HVAC technicians. Whether you’re interested in someday starting your own HVAC business or are simply looking to get hired by an established HVAC company, you’ll need to begin with the right education and training.
One of the most common questions prospective HVAC technicians have is, “How long does it take to become an HVAC tech?”
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, the reality is that it is possible to earn an HVAC degree in as little as one year. Some more intensive programs and apprenticeships, however, can take a few years to complete. And of course, the length of time it takes to earn HVAC licensure will depend on how much time and effort you put in.
A common misconception about becoming an HVAC technician is that you need a formal degree from a college or trade school. While it’s true that many aspiring technicians go this route, formal education is not required to become licensed. In most cases, HVAC businesses will want their technicians to have a high school diploma or equivalent (such as a GED), and some may lend hiring preference to those with an HVAC degree. However, it’s usually more about experience and demonstration of knowledge than anything else.
One alternative to a formal degree to consider is an apprenticeship. HVAC apprenticeships essentially involve shadowing a current HVAC technician to learn hands-on in the field. Rather than picking up your knowledge and experience in a classroom setting, you’ll gain real-world experience to prepare you for your licensure exam. Just keep in mind that you may be required to apply for an apprenticeship before you can begin one, depending on where you live.
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to choose between formal education and an apprenticeship. There are various free HVAC courses that can be taken online, and some degree programs will actually include an apprenticeship so you can enjoy the best of both worlds. The main thing to keep in mind if you’re planning to enroll in a formal program is to make sure you select an accredited degree program with a reputable school.
How long is HVAC school? Most programs run between one and two years if you take a full-time course load. Meanwhile, an apprenticeship can last for a couple of years or even up to five years.
Whether you decide to pursue formal education or an apprenticeship, you’ll need to follow your state’s specific licensing requirements for HVAC technicians. Most employers will want to see that you’ve been licensed by the North American Technical Excellence (NATE) organization, which will require that you pass a licensure exam.
To further set yourself apart from other job candidates, you may want to consider pursuing additional certifications as well. Some examples to consider include licensure/certification with:
If you follow the right path, you can begin working a rewarding job as an HVAC technician in no time. From there, you can tackle things like new HVAC installations, maintenance and repairs with confidence while serving your clients daily.
How long your HVAC training will take to complete depends on many factors, including whether you take on courses part- or full-time and whether you opt for a formal degree program, apprenticeship or combination of both. Ultimately, the best course of training for you will be the one that suits your unique learning style and scheduling needs. From there, you can move forward with confidence into a rewarding and in-demand career!
For more information on training courses and opportunities through Carrier University, click here.