If you are unsure of what career you want, might a suggest a career in HVAC? The facts support that it’s a great field to go into because it’s a growing industry that has security because no matter what, people will always want to heat and cool their homes and it’s really something that can’t be outsourced. If you’re the type that likes the idea of growing in your job, promoting from within, challenging yourself for personal growth, then this industry is extra perfect for you because there’s always more to learn, which helps you progress through a company.
There are a few ways to get educated for this job. To start off, having your high school diploma or GED is ideal. Just having this can get you started in a maintenance department. Maintenance is how you can get your foot in the door. You get a lot of experience from taking apart furnaces and condensers. You start recognizing signs of distress, potential repairs needed, and basically learn the equipment from the inside out.
While working in maintenance, I would suggest going to school at the same time and start working towards getting your EPA certification. Having your EPA certificate allows you to work with refrigerant; if you aren’t legally allowed to work with refrigerant, employers will have a hard time moving you up in the business because otherwise they’d have to break the law for you.
EPA stands for Environmental Protection Agency, and they’ve established a mandatory program that requires all technicians to be certified before performing maintenance, service, repair, or disposal of an appliance that contains refrigerant chemicals. There are a few different types of EPA certificates:
EPA 608 Type I: You can handle small appliances with 5 pounds or less of refrigerant.
EPA 608 Type II: You can work on high-pressure units, such as split systems and non-automotive systems.
EPA 608 Type III: Low pressure appliances such as chillers.
EPA 609: Is for MVAC (for cars)
Universal EPA: You can work on basically all appliances with refrigerant, requires Type I, II, and III.
There are many ways to get EPA certified, if you are going to be taking a class at a trade school or local city college, the EPA certification is most likely included in the class, but be sure to check with your teacher on that. If not, there are ways to get certified online. Check for different proctors in your area or take the test online.
An additional certification you can get is R-410A. Some places require this certificate to purchase R-410A. In order to work with R-410A, you need either EPA 608 Type II or Universal. This certificate is just a suggestion, but is not required by law.
Once you are EPA certified, you can start working as an installer helper. Being a helper is great because you get real, hands-on experience, while learning from an experienced lead installer. With time, you can prove that you’ve learned a lot and start doing installs all on your own. A great next step would be to get NATE certified.
NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence. It’s a test provided by an independent organization that certifies technicians on their knowledge of installation and service. Being NATE certified instantly increases your pay check and ensures job security. You basically don’t even have to be interviewed anymore because your knowledge of installation and service is verified. You can choose to test in Installation, Service or Senior technician and then pick a core focus. Once you’ve gained enough experience and picked your focus, find your nearest NATE certification center at NATE’S website.
Back in 2012, there were 267,600 HVAC jobs available. It is projected to add 55,900 by 2022. Starting a career now, would put you at the tail-end of the growth. There’s new technologies available that offer a more energy efficient solution to heating and cooling your home, and rebates are being offered if you upgrade, so now, more than ever, people are upgrading their systems. This means an increase in demand for installers. And with the spread of knowledge, people are realizing the importance of maintaining their home comfort systems, which means more work for maintenance technicians.
Starting out, technicians make about $26,000/year, but don’t let that discourage you because with just a couple years experience, you can nearly double your salary. The average income back in 2010 was $42,000, but according to indeed.com, the average salary for an HVAC technician is $60,982/year, see for yourself on indeed.com. If you want to make even more than that, get all the certifications and knowledge necessary and be the most specialized tech and you could be making more that $90,000/year. You could start at $26,000 and with self-motivation, triple your salary.
As you can see, there is a ton of room for growth and progression in the HVAC industry, so if you are on the fence about what to do and where to start your career, I would suggest taking a look at local trade schools, city colleges and HVAC companies looking for maintenance technicians.
If you’re in the California Bay Area, Supreme Air systems is hiring. We’re looking for experienced technicians, both service and install, and entry-level positions, installer helper and maintenance technician. For more information, you can go to our careers page, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 408-376-0406!