Becoming an HVAC Specialist:
What You Need to Know

See also: Transferable Skills

The journey to becoming an HVAC specialist begins with sheer interest in the way that HVAC systems function. This unique curiosity is the fuel needed to drive through the rigorous lectures and lessons that eventually earn you a certification.

HVAC specialists are in high demand because they play an indispensable role in every sector of the world's economy. When your air-conditioning units or refrigerators are faulty, or just aren't working optimally, the first port of call is an HVAC technician. This is why some people rush to furnace repair blogs for solutions. It goes further into ventilation and heating systems that form the acronym HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning) which are also indispensable in most homes and offices across the world.

HVAC specialists are trained to repair, maintain, install or replace HVAC systems anywhere they are found. While these sets of technicians are trained to handle any kind of HVAC system regardless of where it's in operation, they sometimes narrow down their roles to pure industrial or home services. Some may focus on just ventilation, heating, or refrigeration. So prospective HVAC specialists can decide to niche themselves in the options available under the HVAC technician umbrella.

Now to the main subject.

How to Become an HVAC Specialist

Becoming an HVAC specialist requires certain compulsory stages or steps. For starters, you can begin with:

1. A High School Diploma or Anything Similar

This is the foundational stage and condition that must be met before being certified as an HVAC specialist. A high school diploma will equip you with the basic knowledge you need to thrive when you start receiving more technical training on HVAC systems. If you're still in high school, you might need to pay attention to subjects covering electricity, like physics and chemistry. These subjects are the essential foundations for the role ahead. You should also focus on topics such as mechanical drawing, blueprint reading, and the like if they're offered in high school as they are all good stepping stones.

2. Get an HVAC Certification

When have completed a high school diploma, or an equivalent such as a GED (General Educational Development) Test, you can proceed to get a certification in HVAC systems technology. While this step might be skipped in some US states, it's mandatory in some other states and countries.

Essentially, the HVAC certificate will be issued after you've completed your training which demands extra courses and lectures on HVAC systems. It should last between six months to two years depending on the technical institute or college handling it. Before the certification, you would have been equipped with the following:

  • Principles of mechanics, electricity, and electronics
  • Technical diagnosis
  • Load calculations
  • Air quality and conditioning
  • Industry code standards
  • Equipment testing and tools needed for the testing
  • System maintenance and analysis

All of these and perhaps more will equip you with all it takes to carry out your role as a professional HVAC specialist. Last, you will need to ensure that the institution is accredited to handle HVAC courses so you can obtain a valid certificate.

3. Gain Experience with an Industrial Training

An apprenticeship is the stage where you demonstrate or practice all that you've learned during the certification process. Some people skip the certification and head down to this stage after high school, but cutting corners will certainly leave you deficient in some technical areas. Hence, after your certification, you can apply for an apprenticeship or industrial training program to gain hands-on experience on HVAC systems.

You'll learn from experienced technicians and learn even more than you've been taught from high school to the certification stage. Some technical details and challenges aren't taught in classrooms, they're learned in the field and that's the value you'll obtain from doing an apprenticeship. Plus, you could get hired after your training and save yourself the time you would have spent looking for a job. Furthermore, getting a job doesn't stop you from freelancing and you can still work for other clients after your official work hours or on days you're not working officially.

Industrial training and apprenticeships can last from 1 to 4 years, and are not only practical-intensive but may well include some taught courses as well. You could be lucky to find a paid apprenticeship, otherwise, be prepared to go unpaid for the period. However, monthly stipends and tips are a norm in the industry, and they can sustain you for the period of the training.

4. Acquire Further Professional Certification

After your apprenticeship, you will be a certified HVAC technician with theoretical and practical knowledge of your field. You can start working and earning. However, you need to spare some time to climb higher by getting professional certifications. These higher certifications will give you an edge over the competition and increase your chances of landing bigger jobs.

You can decide to become an HVAC specialist by getting a certification in just air-conditioning, heating, or ventilation. This will differentiate you from the rest of the general technicians and position you for better jobs. These certifications have no specific time frame as they vary according to states and regions. Basically, you have to pass some tests and practical examinations before you're licensed as a professional.

You will be required to take a few courses, especially if you're going to be specializing in either of the divisions under the HVAC umbrella. If you're in the U.S, the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is the best for your field, you can strive to add that to your portfolio.

You can also consider additional certifications such as:

  • Ready-to-work certificate
  • Core & Specialty Tests Certification
  • Senior Level Efficiency Analyst Certification

Now You Can Become an HVAC Specialist

When you've completed all these stages involved in becoming an HVAC specialist, you should be confident in handling any of the challenges you come across. If you decide to specialise further, you can focus on getting certifications for:

  • Residential boilers
  • Heat pool pump heaters
  • Commercial furnaces
  • Type 1, 11, and 111 appliance servicing and many others.

In the end, the road to becoming an HVAC specialist is quite rocky, but simple. All you have to do is follow the steps to the letter and you'll arrive at your destination.

About the Author

Spiff Wright is a professional freelance content writer with specialties in blog posts, website content, listicles, biography, article writing, and rewriting. He's bagged over 5 years of experience in the writing industry, with tons of certification under his belt. When he's not writing, he's simply reading to blow off steam and recuperate lost writing juices.