Earning Your HVAC Certification
For those seeking a career in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning — otherwise known as HVAC — a certification provides the best means of advancement. Those who have HVAC certification demonstrate that they are experts in the repair, installation, and maintenance aspects of residential and commercial HVAC systems.
Because HVAC is a field that requires technical know-how, methodical problem-solving strategies, and ample experience to diagnose problems, becoming a certified technician is the best way to prepare for these challenges in the field.
Furthermore, an HVAC certification demonstrates expertise and qualification to potential employers and customers.
While it's not mandatory in all states to obtain an HVAC certification, it is highly recommended. Employers tend to seek out those with certification. Even if you live in a state that doesn't require certification, you will have a higher market value with one than without.
Let's take a further look at how to obtain an HVAC certification, what certification entails, what skills it provides, what training is required, how to get hired as a technician, and how to further advance your career with HVAC continuing education courses.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
The first and most pressing career question is how to obtain your HVAC certification. Luckily, it's now easier than ever to enroll in a certification course.
Begin by searching our HVAC career webpage dedicated to continuing education on HVAC. Not only do we offer the initial certification course, but we also offer continuing education courses to stay licensed and advance your skill set.
Courses run on a five-week rotation, meaning there's a short period between registration and actually beginning each course. Additionally, this means earning your credentials sooner and putting them to use quicker. Such accelerated learning translates to a faster return on investment. While there is plenty to learn in your HVAC-certification process — including the fundamentals of how each system work, rules, regulations, laws, safety, health, and maintenance standards — our courses allow you to master these concepts in a shorter amount of time.
We design our courses for the working person, with both daytime and nighttime sessions available. We understand that many seeking a career change or advancement still work jobs while at Vista College. Our courses come scheduled to accommodate those with prior commitments, families, and full or part-time work schedules.
In fact, our HVAC-certification courses pack a maximum amount of learning into an efficient window of time. We focus on hands-on learning, which allows for better retention and practical understanding of both theory and operations. One of the best perks of Vista College's StateCE is our low ratio of instructors to students, creating an atmosphere of personalized learning. This also allows students to ask more questions and have better access to materials.
All programs through StateCE are licensed and approved by the appropriate state-licensing bodies. We operate nationwide and keep our courses convenient by offering a world-class level of customer support through individualized attention.
Ours are also the best-priced courses in the industry, and we maintain this competitive edge by offering a 100 percent unique course-price match guarantee. This ensures the cost of your course will always be the best available.
What a General HVAC Certification Entails
HVAC certifications come in different levels and offer varying degrees of qualifications. Because HVAC includes several fundamentally different types of systems, it is essential to understand which qualifications align with which kind of system. The following are different certifications you can receive:
1. EPA Type I Certification
This is the most basic form of HVAC certification, and it trains technicians to perform installation, maintenance, and repairs of smaller systems. These include vending machines, air conditioning units and systems, and refrigerators. These systems typically contain 5 kg of gas or less.
Technicians with Type I certification can use appropriate equipment to perform system evacuations and are trained in techniques for gas recovery. This applies to both compressor systems and those without compressors. They will also learn techniques for safe handling of refrigerants. This course can often be completed online.
2. EPA Type II Certification
Type II certification applies to systems with high pressure, ranging from medium to very high. This course teaches different skills and opens up opportunities to work with more systems. Among the skills taught are:
- High-pressure systems and how to detect leaks.
- The importance of testing for leaks before repairing or recharging a system.
- Requirements for repairing leaks in systems with at least 50 lbs. of refrigerant.
- Best practices in recovery.
- Requirements for recovery in repairing, disposing of waste, and performing any type of significant repair.
- The physics and principles behind high-pressure refrigeration, both in the systems and in the fluids.
- Proper safety techniques and how to safely use all equipment.
3. EPA Type III Certification
This type of certification trains technicians to repair, maintain, and install low-pressure HVAC systems. One example of this type of machine is a chiller. This certification requires a similar amount of coursework compared to Type I and II certifications and includes proper disposal techniques.
4. Universal EPA Certificate
A universal EPA certificate grants operators the ability to perform repairs, maintenance, and installation on any of the three major systems, or to perform any of the functions included across certification types. Provided operators comply with local requirements, a universal certificate qualifies an operator to work in any U.S. state.
This certificate takes the most time and coursework. However, it also provides the greatest versatility in your job selection. It boosts qualifications and opens the most doors in a prospective job hunt.
5. North American Technician Excellence (NATE) Certificate
The NATE certificate is not a technical requirement but rather is meant to increase your industry competence and reputation as an expert in the HVAC field. It is a highly esteemed addition to on professional HVAC technician's resume, and it both deepens understanding and desirability to employers.
There are different versions of the NATE exam, which are administered to experienced versus newly qualified HVAC specialists. NATE exams are additionally divided into different sections, such as air distribution, gas furnaces, and air conditioning.
What Skills an HVAC Certification Gives You
HVAC increases your marketability and hiring potential. But what practical skills does it supply you with, and how will it help you on a day-to-day basis of working with different systems?
Dealing with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems require a detailed understanding of core scientific and mechanical principles.
Rather than just dealing with an air conditioner, a job might require you to consider adjusting the intake of oxygen or carbon dioxide into a room, or you may have to work on reducing the rates of bacteria transmitted through the air. HVAC certification trains technicians to tackle these complex projects while becoming well-versed in the latest industry technology.
Moreover, an HVAC certification offers new techniques and learning even for those with years in the industry. It provides experienced professionals the opportunity to combine their skill set with new techniques, industry standards, and methodologies for technical proficiency. This will boost confidence both in yourself and others, making it clear you're a seasoned expert in your field.
Anyone who has worked in HVAC knows that technique and strategy are everything. The key to efficiently working while saving yourself time and the customer money is being able to choose the right technique from the start.
Choosing the right maintenance approach means a lower overall cost and the highest degree of project quality, which is what defines expertise. HVAC-certification courses teach the best methods currently in practice and how to spot the time to wield them.
Certification also teaches you how to repair parts rather than just replace them. Many times, customers are met with a statement that a part needs merely to be replaced. While this is often the case, it's also possible to repair parts and save all involved parties time and money.
What Training Is Required to Become an HVAC Technician?
Becoming an HVAC technician generally involves the following steps:
- A high-school diploma: Graduating high school is a requirement for those seeking to become HVAC-certified. Often, those who excel in the HVAC industry are ones who enjoyed courses like math, shop, and physics. The same principles from these subjects are all incorporated in HVAC work. Additionally, many HVAC specialists further their learning by participating in fields such as mechanical work or electronics. These are closely related to HVAC, and many of the same principles can be applied.
- An accredited HVAC-certification course: StateCE offers HVAC certification as well as its continued industry education. Basic certification is the most effective way to begin advancing in the HVAC field. These are useful not only for classroom learning but also for their value in on-the-job training opportunities and mentorship.
- Advanced coursework and examinations: There are plenty of courses available to those looking to renew their licenses, further their education, or broaden their skills. Some coursework trains technicians as advisors, supervisors, and senior-level efficiency analysts. These courses are available to those looking to expand their degree of excellence and boost credentials.
- State-licensing requirements: Ultimately, the minimum amount of certification you require to become an HVAC technician depends on your state's requirements. Currently, states that do not require certification include Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine. However, it is still highly recommended to seek certification, as this makes you more hirable and instills more confidence in employers and customers alike.
If you have questions about what requirements are needed to become an HVAC specialist, contact StateCE for further assistance.
How to Get Hired as an HVAC Technician
When choosing a career, it is always wise to go with one that addresses a need. When there is a need for something, you do not have to worry about it going out of fashion. It's inconceivable that the need for heating, cooling, and ventilation will disappear. While people can live without some luxuries, heating and cooling are two for which they will always need immediate replacement when components fail. No one wants to be in a house that is suffocatingly hot or numbingly cold.
Finding work in HVAC services starts with exploring connections you may already have. If your certification course introduced you to any contacts in the field, do not hesitate to network with them to discover employment opportunities. Often, HVAC specialists will know of openings or can consider your resume themselves. See if any friends or family have connections in the field, as well.
After a little networking, get to work exploring HVAC-service providers in your local area. These are typically divided into residential and commercial HVAC services. Residential services involve heating, cooling, and ventilation work done in people's houses, apartments, condos, and other residential areas. Commercial work includes warehouses, offices, factories and any other type of business facility.
Note that the commercial sector typically requires a higher level of education and experience in the field. This is because the systems are larger and the resulting expectancy greater. The residential sector is easier to break into, with lots of opportunities for apprenticeships or to work your way up through an established company.
While there is a fairly steady workflow in HVAC repairs and servicing, installation work can be more limited. This is because HVAC systems are in continuous need of repair and maintenance, whereas installations are primarily dependent on new houses and construction. For this reason, installation work is more vulnerable to fluctuations in the economy and housing market, while service is steadier.
How to Further Advance Your Career with HVAC Continuing-Education Courses
Continuing education is a considerable part of advancing in the HVAC industry. Part of the robustness of being an HVAC specialist is the knowledge there's always room for growth. Those starting with minimal industry experience can work and learn more, steadily adding to their credentials and eventually culminating in senior-level HVAC and supervisor positions.
Continuing education also provides the opportunity to learn new skills while performing license renewals, which are an important part of staying employed. Because HVAC technicians tend to pick up useful skills in related trades such as plumbing, electrical work, and house construction, continued education can strengthen and round out these areas of knowledge as well.
StateCE is the industry leader in providing HVAC certification to those looking to begin a new career or bolster their current one. With our personalized instruction and low instructor-to-student ratios, we are at the forefront of the affordable learning revolution.
With programs running every five weeks, StateCE offers a short wait time for enrollment and the ability to maintain the momentum and excitement of your next step in life. We pride ourselves on effective, substantive, and accelerated learning, providing plenty of hands-on opportunities to learn at your best. To accommodate a variety of lifestyles, our day and night classes offer flexibility and convenient scheduling. You will learn from experienced, expert instructors who enable you to start a new career in a short turnaround.