Understanding Certifications for HVAC Technicians

hvac technician training classroom

Since HVAC systems are becoming increasingly complex, many employers these days prefer to hire candidates that can demonstrate that they have the required industry expertise. Furthermore, the government requires technicians who handle refrigerants to obtain specific EPA certifications. For these reasons, getting the right credentials is an important step in an HVAC technician’s career. Below, we discuss different kinds of HVAC certifications and what it takes to earn them.

How Long is HVAC School?

On-the-Job Learning

After getting a high school or GED diploma, some aspiring HVAC technicians may choose to learn on the job. On-the-job training under an experienced technician generally involves performing essential HVAC duties, including using measuring tools, following safety practices, undertaking electrical work, identifying refrigerants, and, of course, maintaining equipment. After a couple of years of learning on the job, HVAC technicians may be ready to take certification exams.

Post-Secondary Education

However, since certification exams test their technical knowledge and practical abilities quite thoroughly, aspiring HVAC technicians may want to consider post-secondary training in HVAC technology. Post-secondary training at a community college or vocational school can help students achieve the aptitude and expertise needed to pass certification exams. HVAC training at a community college normally takes two years, although it also entails various general education classes, like English or Biology. At a vocational school, on the other hand, students get to focus on their training in HVAC technology only.

HVAC Training

HVAC training at Midwest Technical Institute can be completed in 35 weeks (nine months.) The vocational training program covers basic electricity, air conditioning, heat pumps and electric heat, major appliance repair, gas heat and indoor air quality. Students learn about HVAC technology through classroom lectures and hands-on training in the HVAC lab. Moreover, MTI’s HVAC training program offers a employment and certification readiness class. In fact, each HVAC training student is required to take and pass the EPA Section 608 Core Type I and Type II certification exams.

How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC Certification?

There are a number of certifications that HVAC technicians can acquire. The federal government requires technicians who handle refrigerants to become certified through the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Several industry organizations also offer additional certifications. How much time it takes to get any of these is contingent upon the type of certification you seek and how long you need to study for each.

EPA Certification

The EPA demands that all HVAC technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of equipment that may release ozone-depleting refrigerants into the atmosphere obtain certification according to the regulations under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. You will take the core Type I and Type II certification exam while you are enrolled in an MTI HVAC training program. You might want to the take Type III exam at a later point, too.  If you have successfully passed Type I, II, and III, you are eligible to take the Universal certification exam. For all certifications, you must also pass the Core section. Below is an overview of each exam:

Core Exam

  • Ozone depletion
  • Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol
  • Section 608 regulations
  • Substitute refrigerants and oils
  • Refrigeration
  • Three R definitions
  • Recovery techniques
  • Dehydration evacuation
  • Safety
  • Shipping

Type I (Servicing Small Appliances)

  • Recovery requirements
  • Recovery techniques
  • Safety

Type II (Servicing or Disposing of High-Pressure Appliances)

  • Leak detection
  • Leak repair requirements
  • Recovery techniques
  • Recovery requirements
  • Refrigeration

Type III (Servicing or Disposing of Low-Pressure Appliances)

  • Leak detection
  • Leak repair requirements
  • Recovery techniques
  • Recovery requirements
  • Refrigeration

Universal Certification

Industry Certification

A number of industry organizations offer certifications for HVAC students. How long it takes to receive any of these industry certifications can vary. Some certifications require you to be a member of the organization for a certain amount of time, while others may ask for a minimum number of years of work experience. The following is a selection of industry entities that provide certifications for HVAC technicians:

How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC License?

Different HVAC Certifications

There are several types of certifications and licenses available to HVAC technicians. The time it takes to earn such a credential varies, depending on your specific training and career path. For example, if you elect to attend a vocational HVAC training program and pass the EPA Section 608 Type I and Type II certification tests right away, you can have the EPA certification in less than a year after high school.Learn more about what an HVAC technician is and what an HVAC technician does.


  • http://www.natex.org/site/1/Home
  • https://www.rses.org/
  • https://www.nocti.org/competencycredential.cfm
  • https://www.escogroup.org/hvac/

  • https://www.epa.gov/section608/section-608-technician-certification-test-topics

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