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Frequently Asked Questions About HVAC School

Posted Thursday, Apr 22, 2021 by Altierus

Looking at heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) schools? Training to become an HVAC technician offers you the opportunity to learn and apply many different concepts from science, mechanics and more—all to help people and businesses keep air comfortable and healthy. Finding the right HVAC school matters.

At Altierus Career College, you can complete our HVAC technician diploma program in as few as nine months of study. Or, you can complete additional training in refrigeration by studying for an additional three months.

Our programs are HVAC Excellence-accredited by the Esco Group, an independent third-party organization that verifies whether HVAC school program prepares students to meet HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration) industry professional standards. Graduates of our program will pursue the following certifications:

  • EPA 608 Universal Certification
  • OSHA 10-hour Basic Safety Orientation
  • Esco Group Universal R410A Safety and Training

This page answers some frequently asked questions about becoming an HVAC technician, what to look for in an HVAC school, and more.

What HVAC Technicians Do

What are the duties of an HVAC technician?

HVAC technicians install, inspect and maintain heating and cooling systems in buildings. They work to keep HVAC systems operating safely and efficiently.

Specifically, HVAC technicians may:

  • Inspect, clean and repair existing HVAC components or systems, including fans, air conditioners, cooling pumps, ductwork and more
  • Install and maintain HVACR components and the electrical wiring that powers them
  • Replace HVACR system components to improve energy efficiency or because of malfunction
  • Handle liquid or pressurized-gas refrigerants and other hazardous materials according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state and local regulations
  • Record and explain test results, work completed, or any additional work needed to clients

Where do HVAC technicians work?

HVAC technicians work in a wide range of settings because every building needs an HVACR system. Work sites for HVAC technicians include factories, homes, schools, hospitals, construction sites, and much more. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the most common employers for HVACR technicians in May 2019 were:

  • Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors – 66%
  • Self-employed workers – 7%
  • Wholesale trade – 4%
  • Educational services; state, local, and private – 3%
  • Retail trade – 3%[1]

Are there many women working in HVAC?

As with other skilled trades, there is a definite gender imbalance in HVACR. BLS labor force statistics for 2020 indicate that only 1.5% of people working in the field were women.[2]

However, industry efforts to address this issue are growing. For example, Altierus Career College partners with Women in HVACR, a non-profit organization that aims to increase the number of women HVAC technicians through education, mentorship and networking opportunities.

How to Become an HVAC Technician

What do you need to know before starting HVAC school?

To apply to our HVAC technician program, you need to be a high school graduate or hold a GED. There are no specific electives required. However, it’s worth mentioning that HVACR is a hands-on, physical job which can involve constant activity. You should have fine motor skills, be capable of crawling or climbing into tight places, and be able to lift or move moderate amounts of weight.

How long does it take to become an HVAC technician?

You can train to become an HVAC technician in a year or less. Our HVAC diploma program lasts nine months—or 12 months if you are pursuing HVACR training. This includes online coursework, in-person labs, and certification exam prep. Learn more in our article “How Do I Become an HVAC Technician?”

Can you become an HVAC technician without going to HVAC school?

HVACR systems have become so complex that most employers prefer to hire candidates with specific post-secondary education. This ensures they are hiring technicians who have a rounded understanding of different HVACR systems as well as crucial safety and environmental practices—understanding which is unlikely to be developed through on-the-job training alone. In addition, many states and localities are increasing regulation of HVACR workers through licensing programs.

For you, one of the many advantages of going to HVAC school is that you are able to learn and practice skills in a lab environment rather than on a job site. In addition, you will receive support preparing for certification exams instead of having to study by yourself.

Are there certification exams for HVAC technicians?

Yes. There are several HVAC certifications related to safe handling of refrigerants, and one related to general workplace safety.

The U.S. EPA regulates a number of toxic refrigerant chemicals under Sections 608 and 609 of the Clean Air Act. These refrigerants can cause harm to people and the environment if not handled properly. At Altierus Career College, we prepare students for EPA 608 Universal Certification, which applies to HVACR systems in buildings. (EPA 609 Certification applies to motor vehicle HVACR systems.)

The Esco Group provides certification for safe handling of some pressurized-gas refrigerants. We prepare our HVACR students for the Esco Group Universal R410A Safety and Training certification, which certifies them to handle one of the most common pressurized refrigerants.

In addition, we prepare our students for a basic occupational safety certification offered by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). We want our students to be familiar with practices and principles that can keep them and the people they work around safe.

As a certified technician, you can stand out more in the job market. Altierus Career College provides specific test prep during our HVAC program and also covers test fees for exams in tuition costs.

You can learn more about the importance of certification for HVACR technicians in our article, “Why Does HVAC Certification Matter?”

Why Go to HVAC School?

How much does an HVAC technician earn?

Nationwide, the BLS reports that the median annual salary for HVAC technicians was $50,590 in May 2019. The bottom 10% of HVAC techs earned less than $31,910, while the top 10% of earners made more than $80,820.[3]

Pay varies by location and employer. Altierus offers its HVAC diploma programs in Florida, Georgia, and Texas. In 2019, salaries in those states were:

What HVAC Technicians Make in Florida[4]

  • Median: $43,050
  • Bottom 10%: $29,590 or less
  • Top 10%: $63,270 or more

What HVAC Technicians Make in Georgia[5]

  • Median: $42,980
  • Bottom 10%: $26,240 or less
  • Top 10%: $63,000 or more

What HVAC Technicians Make in Texas[6]

  • Median: $45,510
  • Bottom 10%: $29,180 or less
  • Top 10%: $67,510 or more

Is going to HVAC school worth it?

Yes! If you love machinery and electronics and enjoy physical, detail-oriented work, you could make a great HVAC technician. You are also entering a stable career field. New buildings require HVAC systems, and older buildings need to be retrofitted with more energy-efficient ones. As a result, the BLS projects that demand for HVAC technicians should rise by 4% from 2019-2029, adding 15,100 new job openings across the country.[7]

Learn More About Our HVAC School

Contact Altierus Career College today to learn more about our HVAC and HVACR Diploma programs!

[1] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-3

[2] https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm, “heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers”

[3] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-5

[4] https://www.onetonline.org/link/localwages/49-9021.00?st=FL&g=Go

[5] https://www.onetonline.org/link/localwages/49-9021.00?st=GA&g=Go

[6] https://www.onetonline.org/link/localwages/49-9021.00?st=TX&g=Go

[7] https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-6

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