What You Need to Know About Your HVAC Certification

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Last updated: 
August 16, 2016

HVAC or Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning specialist technicians are people that have specialized in installing, maintaining, and repairing our HVAC systems. All of them are required by law and by most employers to get their certification or license prior to practicing their job as a trained HVAC specialist. If you are planning on becoming one in the near future, here are all the details you need to know on how to get it, why it’s important, and what are the requirements.

Getting your HVAC training

HVAC Certification_Boiler RoomThere are certain HVAC mechanics and technicians who work without having a certification or a degree. However, the surest way to prepare for a rewarding career in this field is by completing your HVAC training program and receiving your certification and associate’s degree.

To make matters easier, you can now complete parts or all the courses required online. If you enroll in such a student program, you are given the chance to learn how to design, maintain, and repair different machines that are part of a heating and air-conditioning system. You can also learn about the general industry standards, on-the-job safety, electronics, air distribution, and air flow.

HVAC certification requirements – what you need to do

As far as requirements go, you can only enroll for these courses if you have at least a high school diploma or a GED. Also, most colleges or education centers will require you to take some general education courses prior to starting the HVAC program. This means you need to take some classes in social sciences, math, natural sciences, and English.


Of course, all HVAC training programs differ from one learning center to the other. However, here are some classes they all have in common.

  • Electric heating systems
  • Air pressure tests and analysis
  • Temperature flow
  • HVAC troubleshooting skills
  • Compressor maintenance
  • Compressor installation
  • Furnace ignition systems
  • Residential HVAC

Apart from completing your HVAC training and getting your certification, you might also want to consider completing an apprenticeship program. This type of practical education comes with both in-class and on-the-job training. Needless to say, it will aid you greatly with the following aspects.

  • You will see exactly what being on the job is like
  • You gain real-life experience, which you can then add to your resume. It will definitely work in your favor when applying for a job
  • You get to interact with real customers, which will give you a sense of what the social interaction for a job like HVAC technician feels like.

Apprenticeships normally last somewhere between three and five years. The length depends entirely on you, though. If, after two or three years, you feel you are now ready to become a self-standing HVAC technician, you can end it prematurely. However, should you wish to go all the way through, this means your entire education program comes to 7 years of studying and practicing. It’s important you take this piece of information into account.

Getting your HVAC certification online

One of the things that makes the entire 7-year education program easier and lighter is completing some of the courses online. If you have that option, we suggest you take it. There are some trade schools and community colleges, for example, that offer split programs. This means you are allowed to complete a portion of your studies online and the remaining ones directly at school. This particular format makes it a lot easier for most students to complete their HVAC certification requirements, simply because they can do it at their own pace. You can arrange your schedule so that the courses fit naturally into it, instead of having your life revolve around college, as traditional students do.

Best online schools for completing your HVAC certification program

Although online courses are one way to go, you need to be aware of the fact that you will not be able to complete your education remotely. Given the hands-on nature of the job, you will have to go to school at some point. However, until then, here are the best online schools to choose from.

  1. Penn Foster Career School

Minimum eligibility requirements say that you have to be 18 or older to attend. Also, as far as online programs go, they offer:

  • The Penn Foster Career School's HVACR Technician Career Diploma Program, which prepares students to work with air conditioning, heating, and ventilating
  • Penn Foster's Automotive HVAC Essentials Certificate Program that teaches students everything about diagnosing and repairing auto HVAC issues.
  1. Northern Michigan University

Here are their areas of study:

  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Construction Management and Trades
  • HVACR Maintenance
  • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
  • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  • Precision Metal Working
  1. University of Alaska

Their areas of study are:

  • Construction Management and Trades
  • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
  • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
  • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
  • Precision Metal Working
  • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  1. Dunwoody College of Technology

Their areas of study are the same as University of Alaska’s.

  1. Oklahoma State University

They offer the following:

  • HVACR Maintenance
  • Leatherworking and Upholstery
  • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  1. Milwaukee Area Technical College
  2. York Technical College

These two education centers offer the same programs and areas of study as The University of Alaska and Dunwoody College of Technology

  1. Pearl River Community College

Areas of study you may find at Pearl River Community College include:

  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Construction Management and Trades
  • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
  • Precision Metal Working
  • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  1. Yakima Valley Community College

Their areas of study are:

  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Construction Management and Trades
  • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
  • Precision Metal Working
  • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance

Why is it important to earn your HVAC certification?

Statistical labor studies show that, as far as securing a job in the HVAC field goes, applicants who have trade school learning or apprenticeships do have an advantage. Some employers still offer on-the-job trainings, but these types of opportunities are rapidly disappearing. The simple reason is that technological advancements of heating and cooling devices as well as the non-relenting computerization make it too difficult for employers to keep up as far as trainings go. This means they would much rather hire someone who already knows everything, is skilled, and up-to-date than hire a person who needs to be trained and apprenticed before they can even be productive for the company.

The other reason, apart from securing a good job, for which you should consider getting your HVAC certification is money. As with any other line of work, people who have completed education programs will always be better paid than the ones who haven’t. If you are the successful graduate of a formal training program and also have your certification and license as required by law, you can expect to be paid approximately 50% more than your counterpart who hasn’t completed his formal training program.

Getting your EPA Certification

The EPA or the Environmental Protection Agency Certification indicates that you are an expert in the building, repairing, and assessing small and low- or high-pressure appliances. If you are a refrigeration or air equipment professional, you are required by the Clean Air Act to possess said certification. But don’t do it because you have to. It will greatly help you, as it is quite the resume booster. Here are some tips for getting it.

  1. Give yourself at least three months in advance to study before taking the exam
  2. Decide which type of EPA certification you need, as there are 3 types:
  • Type I – covers small appliances that use a maximum of 5 lbs. of refrigerant
  • Type II – covers all high-pressure appliances that use refrigerant at minus -58 degrees
  • Type III – covers all low-pressure appliances that boil their refrigerant at temperatures that exceed 50 degrees
  1. In order to study, buy all the textbooks you need and take a look at all the pertinent materials. You can also download free software from the EPA Test website. It will show you the contents of different tests, which you can use as studying material.
  2. There is a test fee which you must pay, of $24.95 if it’s the first time you’re taking the test. If you’re repeating the test, you need to pay $5.95, as of 2011. You can pay this fee online, after you have read the exam rules and clicked on the box that certifies you did. After you’ve paid the fee, you can begin your test. Also, keep in mind you need to answer 21 of the 25 existing questions in each test, in order to pass it.

Getting your HVAC, HVACR, and EPA certifications are the surest way to a stable and successful career in this field. People are becoming more and more health-conscious, as well as environmental-friendly. Therefore, when it comes to heating or cooling their houses or electro appliances, they look for the best people in the branch. Make sure that’s you and start studying for your certifications today!

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