As the demand from consumers is ever growing, the HVAC industry is constantly expanding leading to the employment of over 400 thousand HVAC technicians. Households are finding out more and more that using HVAC systems are an efficient and optimal way to heat and cool their homes making HVAC certification a sure path to gainful employment or a wise choice for business upstarts.
For HVAC technicians that are already in the field, certification can potentially lead you to an increased income, improved working facilities and more confidence from your employers. Whilst businesses will garner more trust form their customers with a certified workforce allowing them to better compete in this thriving market.
However, attending classes can be a huge inconvenience for some, especially when it’s got to fit around work and home life. Night classes can often leave you feeling tired and as if you’ve had no break before starting the next workday, it can be exhausting.
The alternative you have here is to take the course online; there are advantages and disadvantages to doing this which we’ll go through in this article.
- What is a HVAC technician?
- What is HVAC Certification?
- Advantages of HVAC Certification Online
- NATE Certification
- HVAC Excellence Certification
- EPA Certification
- HVAC Certification Training Types
- Diploma/Certificate Program
- HVAC Associate’s Degree Program
- HVAC Bachelor’s Degree Program
- HVAC Engineer Program
- In Summary
What is a HVAC technician?
HVAC technicians are responsible for the maintenance, repair, installation and disposal of heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. Some technicians prefer to specialize in any of these three areas whilst others are able to perform duties in all three.
A technician’s duty will include connecting an HVAC unit to the existing water and air systems already present in a business or residential establishment and to be able to disassemble and reassemble these systems for repairs and component replacements.
A good ability in mathematics and knowledge in some scientific concepts are very much an advantage when it comes to this field as you’ll be working with mechanical equipment that employs airflow, pressure and heat transfer as part of its function as well as refrigeration modules.
What is HVAC Certification?
The certification shows potential employers and customers that you are professionally trained to perform the task at hand when it concerns the handling, installation, and repair of HVAC systems. It shows that you can work safely and that you have the knowledge and experience in working with an HVAC unit to provide a high-quality service.
There are different types of certifications that are required which allow you to work with HVAC systems, whilst others are not required but show a greater competence in the trade. You can find out more about these particular requirements in our HVAC Certification Guide.
There are also a variety of terms that are used which describe “certification”. For example, the term is used by certain states as a consideration that you meet the requirements of that state to work on HVAC systems within it. Another use of “certification” is obtaining a diploma which is a means of identifying your understanding around the subject of heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
Then there is a federal requirement; a type of HVAC certification training that’s imposed by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) under federal law, to ensure you are aware of the safety and disposal procedures concerning refrigerants.
Advantages of HVAC Certification Online
Choosing to take your studies online, at least partially has many benefits, especially if you are already working and have little time to spare for recreation. It allows you to accommodate your learning to your preferences and work through the content in your own time with less pressure.
You’ll still be able to get home from work and relax as you usually do, maybe incorporating your study into that routine rather than getting home from work and having to attend a night class shortly after, giving you little time for respite.
You’ll be studying from the comforts of your own home; you don’t need to spend your change on drinks and snacks whilst you are out as you’ve got all your home supplies there with you, including your comfy couch and TV for when you need a break.
You may think it’s a downside to not having classmates by your side as you learn, but that’s just not the case, as you have access to countless forums and chat rooms with others just like you helping each other along the way. You’ll also have good email communication with the instructors of your course so that you can ask questions and for clarification.
You may worry about getting the on-the-job experience that’s required by some states for HVAC certification but many online courses offer you just that. Many online HVAC training courses are accredited by the DETC (Distance Education and Training Council) which requires the course to allocate classroom hours as an apprentice so that you can get the practical experience that you need. Ensure that when you come to choosing a course, you are getting what you need to be able to work in the state you prefer.
Most online HVAC courses will provide you with the materials you need too including manuals, reference guides, practical tutorials, practice questions and much more to give you the comprehensive knowledge base that makes the difference between an amateur and a certified professional HVAC technician.
Value for Money
It stands to reason that the online courses are cheaper than actually attending a school too, as it’s not costing the school to accommodate you. And as described below, online courses sometimes include extra certification such as EPA, saving you money.
Online courses offer to teach you a variety of different topics and practical skills within the HVAC remit including:
- Commercial Refrigeration and Heating Units
- System Evacuation
- System Charging
- Plumbing and Drainage
- Practical HVAC Controls
- Ductwork System Designs
- And many more!
Did you know you can do your EPA (from beginning to end) online too? What’s handy is that it can also be included in other HVAC programs, sometimes even for free adding great value for money on some HVAC courses.
Some approved HVAC programs also allow you to complete NATE and HVAC excellence certification which are companies that designed a course to bring the best out of technicians and create a professional working standard across the board.
The NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certification exists to improve your trust with your employers and your customers by representing a certain standard that you hold in relation to the work you do and your expertise.
It includes a wide range of practical topics such as heat pumps, oil heating, ground source heat pump loop installation and more. These are tested on to gauge your knowledge on everything centered on HVAC as a subject.
HVAC Excellence Certification
Like NATE, HVAC Excellence Certification is an organization that’s recognized nation-wide in providing HVAC technicians a program to set a standard. Having certification in this will show your competence and knowledge in the field.
Neither NATE or HVAC Excellence is a certification which enables you to work in any particular state though, but simply extra curriculum knowledge which shows your expertise as a technician.
EPA certification is also known as a Section 608 and has to be completed by federal law before you can start work as an HVAC technician. There are three types of EPA certification; type 1 is the fundamentals and can be completed online and will enable you to work with small appliances which contain 5 pounds or less refrigerant.
Type 1 is an open book exam, and so if you do choose to take the test online it does require a higher score but being an open book you have the internet at your fingertips so it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Types 2 and 3 allow you to work on larger high and low-pressure appliances respectively but they must be invigilated (proctored). Some course will offer to do this by webcam or show you where you can go to be proctored officially.
HVAC Certification Training Types
Below you will find some examples of the different programs you can choose from to undergo HVAC technician certification online; some being more advanced than others. As you’ll see there is a small variety and your choice will depend on the career path and goals you have in mind.
These are offered by trade schools and colleges and are usually around 9 or 10 months long but this would depend on your choice of studying full or part-time. They can be studied online but will have some elements of in-house practical training, making sure you have the practical skills required for the job at hand.
HVAC Associate’s Degree Program
This certification is a step up from a diploma; it can be an ongoing course for up to 2 years providing you with a comprehensive understanding of the concepts and practical skills behind working with HVAC units.
They usually require a GED or high school diploma to be provided for you to be accepted onto the course and are readily available for you to study online. They’re a great way to get into jobs such as sales consultant, HVAC technician, HVAC mechanic, HAC maintenance and much more.
HVAC Bachelor’s Degree Program
The Bachelor’s Degree Program is a much closer look at HVAC and the topics surrounding it, taking into account the sciences involved. Because these courses are quite in depth they can be up to four years long but do often come with an applied sciences diploma too!
They will teach you how to take on the physical side of the role as well as prepare you for managerial tasks too. This is the best type of HVAC course to take if you are also interested in communicational roles, project-based work or are looking to set up your own HVAC operation.
HVAC Engineer Program
Engineering degrees are designed to gear you up into working in mechanical based fields, including as an HVAC technician. Whilst there’s no specific HVAC engineer course that exists, a mechanical engineering degree is an advanced course that will enable you to work with HVAC systems and beyond giving you great flexibility with your pursuit for professional work.
The HVAC industry is lucrative and has bustled with activity lately with more and more becoming HVAC certified and going on to having financially rewarding careers, not to mention the high job satisfaction.
Getting certified may seem daunting and may come across as confusing especially when trying to accommodate it into your schedule. That’s why online courses and testing have been devised; it’s convenient, efficient and flexible and well worth looking into as a boost to your career as an HVAC technician.