If you are considering a career in heating, air conditioning, and ventilation, also known as HVAC, you have made a good choice. Technicians in this field can expect to make a decent living wage. Wait, technicians can expect to make a decent living wage? What about HVAC contractors? Well, as it turns out, there is not much that separates these two careers, except for the fact that contractors have multiple certifications, bid on contract projects, and make a ton more money. However, you would have to put in a lot more time, physical effort, and stress.
Then there is the issue of education and training. You probably did not know this, but there are three ways to become an HVAC technician. It varies a little, state by state, but these ways look something like the following.
Vocational School for Six Months
The most basic of all education and training methods is a six-month program in a vocational school. This works for older adults who are returning to school because there is no place for them in the current workforce. In six months, you can have your certification and begin making HVAC repairs all over the city.
HVAC Programs for Two Years
When you want an associate's degree rather than just a certification, you can go to an HVAC-certified school specifically made for this type of program and degree. It is geared toward younger adults who have a lot of time that they can commit to their classes and training. In the end, they know everything they need to know to repair and install HVAC equipment. They can also become fully licensed if they would like to pursue work as a contractor.
Some HVAC contractors offer apprenticeships. Over the course of two to three years, you work alongside a licensed HVAC contractor, learning everything he or she knows. At the end of the apprenticeship, you take a skills test, and your boss applies for you to get certification and licensing. You can choose to stay with the contractor, working under him or her, or move on and start your own HVAC business. You may or may not be paid for your time serving under the apprenticeship; it depends on the contractor.
Choosing What Works
If you are staring the loss of your home in the face because of financial issues, you may want to go after an HVAC apprenticeship that pays. This would at least help you with your bills until you are certified and/or licensed. If you have plenty of time to spare, and there is no threat of homelessness looming, a two-year Associate's degree is the best. If you need to get through the program at the fastest rate possible, then opt for the six-month certification.