HVAC tech training takes different forms, from certificates to apprenticeships, and lasts several months to 5 years. At the end of it, you will be prepared for at least an entry level job in the heating, cooling, and refrigeration industry.
Before we dig into exactly how long HVAC training will take to complete, though, we need to break down the various ways you can get training.
Length Of Different HVAC Training Programs
You can be trained as an HVAC technician through the below ways, and while program lengths vary, most will have you on the field in 1-2 years. The more hours a week you’re able to devote to class, the faster you can get through it, but even less-frequent night classes will have your education progressing quickly.
- Trade schools or technical institutes: 10 weeks to 2 years
- Community college: 1-2 years
- 4-year institutions
- Apprenticeship: 3-5 years of on-the-job training with 600 classroom hours
And while it’s great to have so many options, it will probably leave you asking which is best. Should you get a certificate from a tech school? An associate degree at a community college? Learn under a qualified mentor through an apprenticeship?
The general consensus is the more training, the better, but a certificate is definitely enough to get you started. Many people decide their method based off of how much time they have, their goals once trained, and how fast they need to start earning real money.
Is HVAC Training Hard?
HVAC has been called a thinking man’s (or woman’s) trade. But even if you feel like the following may be intimidating, just remember that everything you learn is incremental, and teachers help you each step of the way.
You’ll need to be comfortable with:
- Math—Expect to solve high school-level algebraic equations, fractions, decimals, and other basic calculations.
- Logic—You’ll need to use or develop a knowledge of electrical circuits, as well as be able to read blueprints and charts.
- Physics or chemistry—Having an understanding in these areas is helpful for learning refrigeration.
In classes, you’ll learn:
- fundamentals of electricity
- refrigeration basics
- comfort systems
- refrigeration systems
- advanced troubleshooting
After Your Time In A General HVAC Program
Once you’ve gone through a trade school training program, you’ll feel pretty great about getting to work. But before you start applying to jobs, you need to earn your license through a proctored exam if your state requires it, and every HVAC technician should earn his or her Section 608 certification.
EPA Section 608
The EPA 608 certification will allow you to purchase and handle refrigerants. There are up to 4 parts of this test, with the initial 25-question exam being open book. Your school program will have prepared you to take these tests, so they shouldn’t take much time to complete. Even better: The EPA 608 certificate is a one-and-done cert, meaning you won’t ever have to renew it.
You may also want to look into NATE certification, which is voluntary. You’ll definitely have to study for the exams; they aren’t easy. But they will show employers and clients how super-qualified you are. Nearly all require some months to years of working experience before you can sit for them.
With your education and any applicable extras under your belt, you’re now ready to hit the ground running. See, that didn’t take so long, did it? Find a local school and get started today.