There are two main educational options available when training to become a certified Heating, Venting, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) technician. The traditional route requires prospective students to enroll and take classes at accredited HVAC trade schools and community colleges. Along with taking classes, HVAC programs also require training in the field to gain hands-on experience. HVAC students are eligible for entry level positions once they finish minimum requirements in coursework, complete documented training hours and pass a certification exam.
In addition to the traditional route towards earning HVAC certification, an alternate path is offered through apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship programs are on-the-job training opportunities that teach the core skills necessary for becoming a certified, licensed HVAC professional. While apprenticeships include class work taught by accredited personnel, much more of the training occurs in the field. Apprenticeships in the HVAC industry typically last between one to six years with the average length for completion being four years.
How an Apprenticeship Works
Apprenticeship programs have sponsors such as business leaders, employers or labor groups who want to train workers in specific ways to meet their on-the-job demands. The United States Department of Labor oversees registered apprenticeship programs through The Office of Apprenticeship (OA), which works in conjunction with independent State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAAs) to administer the programs on the national level.
Sponsors will also have eligibility requirements that students must meet. For example, HVAC students must demonstrate motivation, ability, and aptitude to master the required skill sets of the occupation. In general, all apprenticeship programs require potential students to possess the following basic attributes:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Be a high school graduate or GED certificate holder.
- Be physically fit and capable of the demands of the job.
- Be able to pass a drug screening test.
- Be a licensed driver with reliable transportation.
Benefits of an HVAC Apprenticeship Programs
The biggest benefit of being an apprentice is earning an immediate wage while training and working towards certification. Usually, apprentices can expect to earn about half the rate of certified HVAC professionals from their region and their rate will increase as their proficiency in the field grows. Apprentices also obtain certification upon successful completion of a Registered Apprenticeship program. This certification, issued by the HVAC industry, is considered a nationally recognized credential certifying proficiency in the HVAC field.
If you are interested in apprenticeship programs for the HVAC industry, check out the Department of Labor website for more information. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Programs