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HVAC Trade Schools vs. Apprenticeships and On the Job Training

HVAC Trade Schools vs. Apprenticeships and On the Job Training

HVAC is a lucrative trade with many quick training options that can lead you toward a high-paying career. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that HVAC technicians in 2021 averaged an annual pay of $54,690. If you are interested in finding an accredited HVAC trade school, search our partner HVAC schools now!

There are a couple of different options you can take to become an HVAC technician. You can choose to enroll in trade school, or jump into an apprenticeship. If you aren’t sure which route would be best for you, read further for more information!

General Requirements for HVAC Training

Before seeking an apprenticeship or enrolling in a trade school, you will need to meet a couple of requirements.

Your school or program may request you to fill out an application or pass a background check in addition to the above requirements.

Explore Your Options: HVAC Trade School

Trade schools acquire less student debt compared to traditional four-year universities. Plus, financial aid may be available to students who qualify. For more information about financial aid options, we encourage you to visit this in-depth financial aid guide.

If you choose to attend an HVAC trade school, be sure that it is an accredited institution that will give you the best knowledge and skills possible. Training at a trade school typically consists of a combination of classroom hours and hands-on experience in an onsite lab.

Some skills you may cover in a classroom setting include but are not limited to:

  • Basic electrical wiring theory
  • Fundamentals of electricity
  • Refrigeration systems
  • Advanced troubleshooting
  • Thermodynamics

Choosing to get your certificate from a trade school may be ideal if you are someone who thrives in a guided, educational environment. Receiving your certificate from a trade school may also make you more eligible for advancement opportunities later in your career, compared to those who did not attend trade school.

In addition, some trade schools offer job placement services. These services can be excellent resources, providing students with guidance, resume building strategies, skills assessments, and more.

After finishing your education at a trade school, you must take your EPA certification exam to earn your license. It is recommended to take the EPA 608 exam shortly after you finish your program. In doing so, the information will be fresh in your mind to prepare you to take the exam successfully.

HVAC Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are training periods where technicians work under the supervision of a Journeyman or Master technician. If you are someone who would prefer to begin working right away, you may find an apprenticeship to be a better fit for you.

An apprenticeship is a paid position that lasts anywhere between 3 to 5 years before you are officially certified. The length of your apprenticeship will depend on your employer, and possibly, state requirements. Like technicians who go to trade school, you will still need to pass your EPA 608 exam before you are considered a certified technician.

Apprenticeships serve as a great way to learn the trade, gain experience, and get paid while doing so. Note that your exact pay will vary depending on your employer. During your apprenticeship, you may learn about refrigeration systems, pipefitting, thermodynamics, troubleshooting techniques, systems repairs, the service components of heating and cooling units, etc.

Although apprenticeships are generally a longer path to take toward certification, some technicians prefer them due to the opportunity to earn money and begin hands-on work more quickly.

Difference Between On-the-Job Training and an Apprenticeship

Enrolling in trade school or getting started in an apprenticeship are the most common paths to take if you want to become an HVAC technician. There are, however, some positions that may offer OJT (on-the-job training) after you complete a trade school program.

OJT differs from apprenticeships in the sense that it is a much shorter process than apprenticeships are, and OJT is most often provided by the employer to an already certified technician. It can serve as an excellent way for you to showcase your skills and knowledge, as well as brush up on any areas you feel you’d like more guidance in.

Take the Path Best for You!

Everyone’s journey through the skilled trades is different, so take your time when deciding which path is best for you. If you decide to enroll in a trade school, then you can get started by browsing HVAC schools near you. Whether you enroll in a trade school, or begin an apprenticeship, you will be stepping toward the beginning of an exciting career in HVAC.

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