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How to Become an HVAC Technician


HVAC technicians are typically required to take several steps to ensure they have the right skills and knowledge for the job. This is due to the increasing complexity of the equipment they work on, federal laws governing the refrigerants they often handle, and the importance of ensuring customer satisfaction year-round.

HVAC Technician Job Description

Learn more about what an HVAC technician does.

Steps to Become an HVAC Technician

From training to certification to licensing, becoming an HVAC technician can take several steps. Federal, state, or local government agencies require some of the steps and employers prefer others. Take a closer look at each one in the chart below. You can also check out our guide on understanding HVAC certifications.

StepsDescriptionWhat to ExpectRequired or Preferred
Step 1High School Diploma or GEDCourses in Vocational Education, Math & Physics Can HelpfulUsually Required
Step 2HVAC Training at a Vocational School or Community CollegeTraining in Air Conditioning, Gas Heating, Electric Heat & Heat Pumps, Basic Electricity, Indoor Air Quality & Employment & Certification ReadinessPreferred
Step 3EPA Section 608 Technician CertificationFour Types of Certification (Each Requires a Test)

Type 1: Servicing Small Appliances

Type 2: Servicing/Disposing of High- or Very High-Pressure Appliances

Type 3: Servicing/Disposing of Low-Pressure Appliances

Universal: Servicing All Types of Equipment
Required for Working with Refrigerants
Step 4On-the-Job TrainingExample Tasks:

Entry-Level: Cleaning Furnaces & Insulating Refrigerant Lines

Mid-Level: Checking Electrical Circuits & Soldering Pipes
Typically Required
Step 5Specialized Industry CertificationsNorth American Technical Excellence (NATE)

HVAC Excellence

Refrigeration Services Engineers Society (RSES)

Often Preferred & Can Lead to Career Advancement

How to Become HVAC Certified

Since many types of HVAC systems use refrigerants, obtaining EPA Section 608 Technician Certification is a common step for many people to becoming an HVAC technician. The EPA offers four types of certification for the various kinds of equipment techs work on. Technicians must take and pass an exam with 25 multiple choice questions for each type of certification.

Types of EPA CertificationType IType IIType IIIUniversal
Equipment CoveredDomestic Refrigerators, Air Conditioners & Other Kinds of Small AppliancesHeat Pumps, Refrigeration Systems, Residential A/C Units & Other Kinds of High to Very High-Pressure AppliancesChillers & Other Types of Low-Pressure AppliancesAll of the Equipment Covered by Types I, II & III

Studying is a common step of any test-taking process. Many people also prepare by taking an HVAC training program. Some vocational schools require their HVAC program students to take and pass EPA Section 608 Core certification tests. This is the case at Midwest Technical Institute (MTI), which requires its students to pass the EPA Core Type I and Type II certification exams.

MTI offers a nine-month HVAC/R-MAR Technician Program at its campuses in Springfield, East Peoria, and Moline, Illinois, where students learn the HVAC/R and major appliance repair trade. An HVAC program is also available at the school’s campus in Springfield, Missouri.

Specialized Industry Certifications

Becoming an HVAC Technician

It can take multiple steps to become an HVAC technician, but the effort could be well worth it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts much faster than average job growth for HVAC techs through 2026. These professionals may also find satisfaction in providing comfortable, healthy indoor climates to their customers.If you have questions about how to become an HVAC technician, contact the Admissions Representatives at MTI.