An HVAC certification provides additional training to graduates who have already completed a formal high school education. This certification indicates possession of a certain level of expertise, knowledge and training in a specific area e.g., handling low or high air pressure appliances.
What Does an HVAC Technician Do?
The HVAC industry provides jobs of various levels and types such as, fixing heat pumps, installing air conditioners, working at residential or construction sites etc. All of these jobs require a very specific skill set. The skills required to complete a job safely in the correct manner can only be obtained through a combination of formal education, hands on experience in the field and an HVAC certification.
How to Become an HVAC Technician in Pennsylvania?
There are many institutions in Pennsylvania that offer formal education programs in HVAC. For instance, the Pennsylvania College of Technology, the HVAC School and the Harrisburg Area Community College offer various HVAC Technician Training Programs. These institutions offer programs that incorporate both coursework and traineeship to help you gain hands on experience during your study. The curriculum of this program focuses on areas such as, the State, Federal & Local Laws, Basic Electricity for HVAC, Natural Gas Piping, HVAC Best Practices and HVAC Systems Design etc.
Requirements to Become an HVAC Technician
Once the HVAC Technician Training Program is complete, the next step is to obtain the HVAC certification. Although it is not mandatory to obtain licensure in the state of Pennsylvania, HVAC technicians often get licensed for better job prospects.
The step by step procedure to apply for a license is as follows:
- Complete an application to take the International Code Council (ICC) exam.
- Pay the fee for the exam.
- Pass the exam with at least 70% marks.
Types of HVAC Certifications
The scope of desired HVAC job determines the type of HVAC certification that the technicians must obtain. There are three specific local certifications in Pennsylvania. These certifications are:
- Home Improvement Contractor Certification
This certification equips Home Improvement Contractors with the skills to determine whether a certain project meets the Pennsylvania Code Requirements or not. It also allows them to obtain local permits and manage HVAC job sites of installation, repair and maintenance. To apply for this certification, the HVAC technicians must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have a minimum of 2 years of work experience in home improvements.
- Have completed an HVAC Training Program or a 2-yearor a 4-year college degree.
- Possess a valid Pennsylvania Identification Card or a driver’s license.
- Grade B Refrigeration Engineers Certification
This type of certification helps refrigeration Engineers with installing, maintaining and repairing ice machines, refrigerated storage units and HVAC units etc. The applicants for Grade B Refrigeration Engineer Certification must:
- Be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or GED.
- Have a minimum of 2,000 hours of field experience in refrigeration.
- Have completed at least 100 classroom hours of course training.
- Have passed the ICC Certification Examination.
- HVAC Contractors Certification
The HVAC Contractors Certification helps technicians learn how to install, maintain and repair heating, air conditioning, and ventilation units for both residential and commercial properties. The candidates for the HVAC contractor certification must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have a high school diploma or GED.
- Have at least 4 years of HVAC field experience.
- Have obtained the general liability insurance.
- Have cleared the ICC Certification examination.
Career Outlook of an HVAC Technician
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 13% employment growth for Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers over this decade i.e., from 2018 to 2028. This employment growth rate is much faster than the average for other occupations.
Salary Trend of an HVAC Technician
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the annual mean income of Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers for the past three years as follows:
|Annual Mean Salary (PA)||$49,650||$51,360||$51,870|
|Annual Mean Salary (U.S.)||$48,320||$49,530||$50,160|
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
The above-mentioned income chart shows a gradual, yet slight increase in the salary of Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers in Pennsylvania over 3 years (2016-2018). The salaries for all three years were higher than the national mean average as well.