HVAC Certification Career Options

Oct 20, 2021

Certification in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) can open a variety of opportunities for the HVAC professional. Experience and certification can lead to careers in HVAC sales, instruction, or specialized services. One year of installation experience and two years of maintenance experience are all that is generally required to obtain certification.

Essential Information

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) certification can help contractors document their knowledge and move forward in their careers. Most programs also include training in refrigeration. Certified contractors can specialize in niche areas of HVAC work, advance into management or even become course instructors. Some get their training through on-the-job experience, but, increasingly, a certificate or degree program is required. Entry-level certification is offered for new graduates, but full certification requires experience.

Education Certificate or associate's degree in HVAC is recommended
Required Experience At least one year of installation experience and two years of equipment maintenance experience
Specialization Options Numerous: oil furnaces, light commercial AC units, duct testing, carbon monoxide testing, for example
Exam Requirements Written exams; some certifications also require practical tests

HVAC Certification

HVAC certification is a credential issued by professional organizations to contractors that meet certain experience requirements and pass an exam. While certification may not be mandatory to work in the field, it may enhance credibility and improve a contractor's chances of getting a job and advancing his or her career. It is required in some states and localities. Vocational schools and community colleges commonly offer undergraduate certificate and degree programs that can help an individual prepare for HVAC certification.

Certification Bodies

Several professional associations, including HVAC Excellence and the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, offer professional certification to HVAC professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HVAC contractors typically need at least one year of installation experience and two years of equipment maintenance experience before they can qualify for professional certification (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that as of May 2019, the median salary for HVAC repairers and installers (including both certified and non-certified workers) was $48,730 per year. Jobs are expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations from 2019-2029, at a rate of 4% during that time period.

Career Options

HVAC Contractor

While an HVAC professional who holds certification can continue working as a generalist, specialized certification in areas such as light commercial air conditioning units or oil furnaces are available. By earning a specialized credential, a contractor enhances his or her marketability and may be able to earn higher wages. In addition, those who hold credentials may have a greater chance of moving into supervisory or management roles, according to the BLS. These individuals may eventually begin their own HVAC businesses to employ and manage their own team of contractors.

HVAC Instructor

Some organizations issue instructor certifications. These establish the credentials of HVAC professionals who are interested in teaching in vocational schools or community colleges. HVAC Excellence provides certification for master instructors, as well as subject specialists.

HVAC Sales

Accomplished HVAC contractors who have in-depth knowledge of their trade can work as sales representatives for HVAC firms. In this role, they evaluate jobs and offer estimates to potential clients.

The HVAC job market is projected to continue growing at 4% over the next decade. Certification may or may not be required to gain employment depending on the state, however, it does increase career advancement and job opportunities. Certification is offered through several professional organizations around the country.

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