Sep 11, 2019
If you’re interested in pursuing a rewarding and hands-on career, look no further than HVAC. People rely on their home comfort systems each day, all year round, which means HVAC technicians are always in high demand. Plus, careers in HVAC offer steady income as well as great benefits for both individuals and families.
In order to pursue a career in HVAC, technicians must earn their credentials through a combination of studies and field experience. Let’s explore what it takes to become an HVAC technician and how long the licensing process takes.
What do HVAC technicians do?
A qualified HVAC technician is responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems that control indoor temperature and air quality in residential and commercial buildings. HVAC technicians also perform safety, air quality, and energy efficiency tests and inspections. Some techs take specialized training to work with in specialized areas of expertise, such as solar heating.
HVAC technicians typically work full-time, but the nature of the job means that evenings, weekends, overtime, and irregular hours are common, especially during peak heating and cooling seasons.
HVAC is a very physically-demanding trade. Technicians often work in uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous conditions, like extreme weather, in order to properly outdoor elements of the HVAC system. Other potential hazards HVAC technicians face include electrical shocks, burns, and muscle strain from lifting heavy equipment.
Read more: A Day in the Life of a 5-Star Technician
How HVAC Training Works
There are a few different paths individuals can take to earn their HVAC certification. The two most common are:
Trade School. An HVAC degree is typically completed at a trade school or community college, and it takes about two years to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed at a faster pace. Coursework includes safety procedures, the operation of HVAC equipment and related skills, like blueprint reading and installation of electrical wiring and control devices.
Apprenticeship. Through an apprenticeship program, students work on actual job sites under the direction of an experienced HVAC contractor. Many industry and union organizations sponsor apprenticeship programs, often in partnership with community colleges and technical schools. Apprenticeships typically take three to five years as students work full-time and complete the required number of classwork hours each year.
Virginia HVAC Licensing Requirements
There are three levels of HVAC licensing you can attain in the state of Virginia: journeyman, master, and contractor. When you first enter the industry, you'll be studying for your journeyman license. To obtain a journeyman license, you must pass the journeyman examination with a score of 60% and meet one of the following requirements:
- 2 years of trade experience and a degree or certification proving you have completed a two-year trade, tech, or community college program
- 4 years of trade experience and 240 hours of vocational training
- 5 years of trade experience and 160 hours of vocational training
- 6 years of trade experience and 80 hours of vocational training
- A bachelor’s degree in an engineering-related curriculum and 1 year of hands-on experience
- Ten years of experience verified by affidavits from employers or others in the field
Maryland HVAC Licensing Requirements
Like Virginia, the state of Maryland offers different types of HVAC licenses, including journeyman, limited, master restricted, and master. An applicant for a journeyman license must:
- Currently hold an apprentice license. There are no prerequisites for an apprentice license.
- Have been licensed as an apprentice for at least three years and completed at least 1,875 hours of training under the direction and control of a licensed HVAC/R contractor
- Pass the journeyman examination with a score of 70%
In 2012, we launched CroppMetcalfe Academy, a four-year apprenticeship program where technicians are taught the basics of HVAC/R and plumbing through a combination of classroom hours and hands-on experience.
Read more: Plumbing & HVAC Training Starts at CroppMetcalfe Academy
According to CroppMetcalfe president, Tim Cropp, “We recognized that there was a shortage of HVAC and plumbing technicians in the industry, and we came to the conclusion that if we wanted to grow, we were going to have to build our own technicians. So we designed some courses for people who had little to no experience in HVAC or plumbing.”
At CroppMetcalfe Academy, you learn from experienced and certified HVAC and plumbing technicians. Current field technicians provide students with up-to-date experiences as well as best practices and instruction for the latest equipment in order to prepare them for dynamic careers in HVAC.
CroppMetcalfe Academy also offers an added benefit to current employees: tuition reimbursement. With continued employment, the cost of training can be paid back in full within two years post program completion.
Get your HVAC certification today.
Build a sustainable career that offers real opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive. Contact us to learn more about CroppMetcalfe Academy and how you can join the CroppMetcalfe team today.