An HVAC technician inspects a distributor box in a residential new build.
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How to become an HVAC technician

In a time when finding steady employment is a challenge for many people, deciding to become a professional HVAC technician can offer numerous advantages. As long as there are modern buildings and houses, there will be a need for professional HVAC technicians.

Discover the benefits of pursuing a career in the heating and cooling industry and learn how to become an HVAC technician in your state.

Benefits of becoming an HVAC technician

Opting for a career as an HVAC technician means that your earning potential could be limited only by your personal drive. Plus, with American student loan debt spiraling upward, becoming a trade professional can offer financial stability and lead to a rewarding lifetime career.

If you’re interested in working with your hands, earning a competitive salary, growing your professional skills and potentially running your own business without attending a traditional four-year university, then becoming a professional HVAC technician could be the right decision for you.

While no two careers are the same, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, shows that the career outlook for HVAC professionals is bright. Potential benefits include:

Competitive pay

In 2022, the median annual pay for HVAC technicians was $51,390. This is more than $5,000 higher than the national median pay in the same year.

Depending on where you live, you could earn even more. For example, the BLS reports that the mean wage for HVAC pros in Hawaii, Minnesota and other locations was over $70,000 in 2022.

Bonus tip: In addition to offering a salary that is likely higher than the national average, some HVAC technician employers offer benefits packages, paid time off and even signing bonuses for qualified employees.

Stable employment

According to the BLS, the rate for HVAC technician employment is projected to grow by 5% over the next decade. This is on track with the national projected growth rate for all industries. By becoming an HVAC technician, you’ll have a great chance of securing steady employment and income.

Career growth opportunities

A wide range of post-employment training opportunities are available for HVAC contractors. Certain types of heating and cooling equipment require installation and maintenance to be performed by technicians with special certifications, such as variable refrigerant flow, or VRF, systems.

Once you become a professional HVAC technician, you can choose to earn various certifications and grow your career based on your interests.

HVAC technician training & education requirements

As mentioned above, the requirements for becoming a professional heating and cooling contractor will vary based on where you live. Learn about the general steps you will likely have to take in order to become an HVAC technician.

High school education or equivalent

The first step to become an HVAC professional is to earn your high school diploma or equivalent education certificate, like a general education degree certificate.

Bonus tip: Heating and cooling work is highly technical. As such, a fundamental understanding and interest in STEM subjects, which include science, technology, engineering and math, will be helpful to your career.

Secondary education

After you’ve earned your high school diploma or equivalent certificate, the next step is to find a secondary education program. The length of time that it takes to complete your secondary education will vary, but can take between two to five years. Some institutions that offer HVAC technician training and education include:

  • Community college

  • Vocational schools

  • Apprenticeships

Bonus tip: Check with your local unions or trade organizations to get help with finding the right training program.

Refrigerant certification

Various HVAC systems involve the use of refrigerant, which is potentially hazardous if not handled properly. In order to protect the environment and ensure public safety, the United States Environmental Protection Agency requires any person who maintains, services, repairs or disposes of equipment that could release refrigerants into the environment to take a refrigerant handling test.

Once you pass this test, you will earn your Section 608 Technician Certification, which allows you to handle refrigerant as a professional HVAC technician.

Other helpful qualifications

In addition to the education and certification requirements outlined above, there are other skills and qualifications that will help you find employment as an HVAC technician. These include:

  • A valid driver’s license

  • A clean driving background

  • Ability to pass a criminal background check

  • Ability to pass a drug test

Having these assets and qualifications will increase your marketability in the professional trade industry.

HVAC technician licensing by state

Once you’ve earned your high school diploma or equivalent certification, completed your secondary training and earned your refrigerant certification, you’ll be ready to become a working HVAC contractor based on your local licensing requirements.

Find your state in the regions below to learn about HVAC technician licensing requirements in your area. Note that this information is subject to change.


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Pursue your career in the trades

Still not sure if becoming an HVAC technician is the right path for you? Explore more resources to pursue your career in the skilled trades with Ferguson Trading Up.