HVAC Technicians

Is a career as an HVAC Technician right for you?
Here are some things to consider before you decide:

  • After completing a trade school program and receiving your Universal EPA certification, you can expect to make $32.12 an hour or $66,809 a year plus overtime and benefits.
  • It is one of the most in-demand trades in North America.
  • There are over 145,142 Heating & Air-Conditioning Contractors businesses in the US as of 2023, an increase of 3.5% from 2022. (IBIS World)
  • The right personality type to become an HVAC Tech is someone who is:
    • Excellent Customer Service Skills
    • Familiar With Equipment Testing
    • Willing To Work in All-Weather Conditions
    • Dependability and Trustworthiness

The Career Journey

Apply For & Attend Trade School

  • Programs are offered Nationwide
  • Average length of program is 18 months, though some can be as short as 12 weeks
  • The cost of an HVAC Technician program can range from $12,000 to $35,000. When vetting a program and its cost, determine which certifications you will receive upon graduation. It is important that you are job-ready at the completion of the program or you may require more schooling.
  • Skills you will learn: Air Conditioning, Gas Heating, Basic Electricity, Indoor Air Quality, Heat Pumps & Electric Heat & Employment & Certification Readiness

Find an Apprenticeship

  • Apprenticeships are 3-5 years
  • You can apprentice while attending school which means you are able to earn while you learn. Some employers will even sponsor your school tuition if you commit to a multi-year employment contract post-graduation.
  • An apprentice will typically earn $23.00 an hour, but your wages will increase as you earn your licenses and certifications.

Earn Your Credentials

  • Type I EPA Certification – This certification covers the repair and maintenance of small HVAC appliances. This would include things like window A/C units and residential refrigerators and freezers.
  • Type II EPA Certification -This level is for larger appliances that operate at high pressure. It would include things like outdoor A/C units and commercial refrigerators.
  • Type III EPA Certification – Low-pressure systems that do not fit under the small appliance category are covered by this certification.
  • Universal EPA Certification – If you are certified in Type I, II, and III, you have earned your Universal EPA and can work with refrigerant in any type of HVAC equipment.
  • NATE Certification – NATE is short for North American Technician Excellence which is an exam-based certification that must be kept up to date throughout your career.

Become a Journeyman

  • Requires a set amount of classroom and on-the-job hours to qualify
  • Every state’s requirements to become a Journeyman vary, however, most will require at least 2 years of experience and passing of an exam.
  • Hourly wages drastically increase after your Journeyman’s license is obtained.

Career Paths within the Trade

Residential Service Technician

Residential Installer

Residential Service Manager

Commercial Service Technician

Commercial Installer

Facility Maintenance Technician

Facilities Manager

Building Automation Systems

Controller Installer

Featured Story:

A 23-year-old on track to make six figures this year says he’s living proof that college isn’t necessary.

Tyler Zitzka took a different approach. He became an apprentice at the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 265 in Northern Illinois, serving as an HVAC technician. He installs UV lights and filters to eliminate bacteria in the air—a service that has been far from slow in the past two years. Zitzka knew this was the right career path ever since a vocational teacher at his high school—now one of Zitzka’s fellow union members—introduced his class to the trade. He calls the decision a no-brainer.