HVAC Apprenticeship: The Definitive Guide

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HVAC Apprenticeship

HVAC technicians and installers perform that can be considered a trade or a vocation.

People who want to learn a trade need to have some on-the-job practice while working under the supervision of a licensed specialist.

Your mentor should be a master or a journeyman and have a certain set of skills and knowledge so they can share it with you.

If you want to bypass the college or vocational school training, apprenticeship is the only available option.

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As soon as your apprenticeship is over, you can sit for the certification exam in order to get your license as an HVAC journeyman technician.

Apprenticeship is the best option for people who learn things better when they watch and follow others.

Also, you have an opportunity to earn money while training instead of paying for your education.

How HVAC Apprenticeships Work

Applying for an HVAC apprenticeship, the first thing you are going to learn is some pre-technical and industrial knowledge and skills.

You can start working and perform at least some basic tasks.

HVAC apprentices, first of all, learn the basics of refrigeration, heating, plumbing, pipefitting, and electrical work.

Also, they learn how to install, maintain, and repair various systems and equipment.

In order to be able to perform daily tasks, HVAC technicians should be able to use basic industrial math, use various formulas, take measurements, exercise safety practices, and use different tools and equipment.

Nowadays, most HVAC employers use computer-assisted drafting (CAD) software programs and computer-based blueprints.

Applying for an HVAC apprentice training program, you have an opportunity to learn how to use these programs.

How to Get an HVAC Apprenticeship

If you want to enroll in an apprenticeship in order to become an HVAC journeyman, there are several options to fond an apprenticeship program.

The first one is to look for an HVAC employer that is looking for a helper.

If you cannot find any job openings, one other option is to get in touch with an independent business owner and ask them to accept you as an apprentice.

Just make sure to prepare some important papers before meeting with a journeyman and asking him to hire you.

The list of papers usually includes a resume, your driver’s license, social security card, and copies of your education transcript.

Also, you need to make sure that you can explain properly your reasons to pursue this career.

Moreover, you need to explain why you want to get trained by a mentor instead of applying for a college program.

Finally, you need to tell about your decision to address this particular mentor so make sure to be respectful.

If your potential mentor doesn’t want to hire you as an apprentice, you may offer to take you as an unpaid helper for a certain amount of time.

If you work well and perform your duties successfully during the trial period, you may try to negotiate the terms.

One other option for those who want to become an apprentice is a union.

Just look for some HVAC unions in your area.

It can even be the sheet metal worker or plumbers and pipeworkers union.

Nowadays, there is an apprenticeship training program that is offered by the United Association.

To be able to enroll in it, you need to submit your application to the United Association (UA Local), the Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, and Service Techs.

Also, you need to have a high-school diploma or GED, as well as a completed math exam and a drug test.

Moreover, a valid driver’s license is required.

This option is absolutely great if you are interested in an apprenticeship but sometimes there are individual companies that open apprenticeship offers.

Also, there are state programs for those who are interested in an apprenticeship.

To be able to learn about the available options just make sure to get in touch with your state’s HVAC licensing board.

Finally, most colleges and trade schools that provide HVAC training programs offer apprenticeships as well.

Benefits of HVAC Apprenticeships

Among the main HVAC apprenticeship benefits, there are:

  • Applying basic concepts for reading blueprints and drawings used in the construction, industrial and maintenance fields;
  • Choosing the right piping materials for different applications;
  • Identifying refrigeration tools and materials;
  • Installing and servicing the components of different types of air conditioning and refrigeration systems;
  • Learning the fundamentals of refrigeration;
  • Learning about basic ventilation requirements;
  • Servicing refrigerant control systems and air conditioning control systems;
  • Working with air distribution and cleaning systems;
  • Working with advanced circuitry systems and innovative instruments.

Before applying for an apprenticeship, just make sure it is widely accepted by employers and meets the requirements of the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (BAT).

Apprenticeships vs. School

Despite “vs.” in the heading, it doesn’t mean you cannot use both these options.

To say the truth, it is even better to get a school training and apply for an apprenticeship as well.

In most states, you need to complete an apprenticeship to get your license but school training can significantly shorten the length of your apprenticeship.

Just keep in mind that proportions vary from one state to another.

Apprenticeship is an important part of your training as it gives you an opportunity to obtain the required practical experience.

It is the reason why you may not have school training but you are required to complete some apprenticeship to get your license.

Despite it, school training can significantly help you as in such a way you can deepen your theoretical knowledge.

Also, it is a great opportunity to learn some business aspects of your future career.

Thus, you can be ready for your work as a contractor.

Some of the classes to become an HVAC tech can be studied online as well.

How Long is an Apprenticeship?

First of all, you need to know that apprenticeship requirements for licensing and certification vary from one state to another.

In some states, you need to work as an apprentice for a certain number of hours (about 3000) before sitting for a certification exam and getting a license.

In other states, you need to be an apprentice for 3-5 years.

When it comes to an hourly rate, you can complete your apprenticeship pretty quickly if you work overtime and long hours.

Do you Need an HVAC License to do an Apprenticeship?

Considering the fact that HVAC apprentices are usually new to the field, they don’t need to have a license in most states.

However, they need to be monitored by mentors who are licensed.

The master service technician usually should fill out forms that are required by the EPA laws.

You need to know that some HVAC journeymen give preference to apprentices who have some training while others can hire ones with no training.

In fact, any HVAC service technician who’s completed the trade school program needs to apply for an apprenticeship to get the required hands-on experience.

What Should Be on Your Resume to Get Hired?

You need to have a resume that you’ll provide to your prospective employers.

In order to perform you properly, your resume should be well-planned and organized while showing properly your background as well as your abilities.

While working on your resume, you need to make sure that you’ve listed properly all your skills and abilities that are appropriate for your future career.

Also, it is important to tell about your working experience to prove that you can perform some duties.

Moreover, make sure to tell about your good grades in related subjects and received awards if you have them.

Finally, you need to tell your potential employer about your interest in the area.

Vocational Training, HVAC, Apprenticeship

As an HVAC technician, you need to know how to read and calculate gauges.

In other words, it is important to have excellent math skills.

One other point you should mention in your resume is your desire and ability to learn something new constantly.

If you can learn something new fast, you need to make sure to tell about it in your resume.

Moreover, you need to include info about your physical abilities and driving records.

As an HVAC technician, you need to have meticulous records, as well as excellent communication skills.

It is important to include all these aspects in your resume as it can increase your chances to get hired.

As an HVAC technician, you need to have a pleasant personality as well as a high-stress resistance and excellent stamina so you can work in different environments.

One other point is that HVAC technicians often need to work in dark small spaces so make sure you aren’t claustrophobic or afraid of the dark.

Moreover, you should be able to work some irregular hours as there are breakdowns at the most inappropriate times.

The other important thing is that you need to be well-organized and know how to work on your own.

All these soft skills are very important for a qualified HVAC technician.

Salary for an HVAC Apprentice

Speaking of the HVAC apprentice salary, it varies from one state to another.

The starting rate can be from $0 to $10 per hour and can reach up to $18 per hour.

After gaining some experience, you can expect a higher salary.

Vocational Training, Education, HVAC, Apprenticeship

When you reach the 5th year of your apprenticeship, you can earn about $23 per hour.

Speaking of union apprentices, you can earn bout 50% of the journeyman’s salary and expect salary raises every year.

While you can earn nothing at the very beginning, it is soon when you start earning enough to pay your checks while learning.

In fact, you can earn money and get experience instead of paying for your associate’s degree.

Career Options and Jobs After Being an Apprentice

As an HVAC apprentice, you can find a whole variety of career options.

After completing your apprenticeship, you can get a job at an established HVAC company or start your own business.

Also, you can look for a job at the industrial and commercial HVAC settings where you’ll be obliged to service refrigeration systems and coolers.

Moreover, you can work in commercial and educational facilities.

You need to know that there is a whole bunch of career options for service techs which means that you can expect some great career prospects as an HVAC technician.

Setting Out On Your Own

There is a possibility that you decide to work on your own and become an HVAC contractor.

You can significantly increase your income.

You can work on your own or hire some other HVAC technicians while taking projects from property owners or act as a subcontractor.

Just keep in mind that in most states you need to meet some additional requirements to get your contractor’s license.

Consider that in most cases you need to have a business license as well as a contractor license.

You should know how to manage a business which means that you may be obliged to complete some extra training.

Finally, it is important to know how to reinvest your finances to make your business grow and develop.

Tools Needed as an Apprentice

HVAC technicians need to have a set of tools that are used for various daily tasks.

For example, you need some gauges so you can check the pressure of the refrigerant in a unit during its installation or maintenance.

Among other tools, there are a leak detector, hex-head nut drivers, a cordless drill, a cordless Sawzall, a flashlight, extension cord, a set of screwdrivers, snips, and a hammer.

Also, you need to have a multimeter so you can check the electrical charge as well as a thermometer and a meter.

A refrigerant scale, a refrigerant recovery machine, and pipe fitting tools are also required.

Having all these tools, you’ll be able to perform a whole variety of duties.

Can You Be Too Old to be an Apprentice?

While you can be too young for this job, you’ll never be too old for it.

Most people who want to change their career and to become an HVAC technician are usually deterrent by a relatively small salary of an apprentice.

However, while you are well-motivated and have the required stamina, you can succeed in this sphere pretty fast.

In other words, your attitude is more important than your age when it comes to an HVAC apprenticeship.

Just make sure you can afford to live when starting your apprenticeship.

Nevertheless, it won’t last for long as your salary will increase pretty soon.


While being pretty old-fashioned, apprenticeship is one of the best options to get your training if you want to become an HVAC technician.

It is a great opportunity to get some valuable experience while earning some money instead of paying for your education.

If you are one of those people who learn things better by doing something, an apprenticeship is a perfect fit for you.

While working with an experienced HVAC technician, you can earn some valuable experience and learn some incredible tricks.

Of course, a trade school is a great option but it won’t provide you with on-the-job experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is HVAC a good career path?

Being an HVAC technician is a solid career to start.

Jobs for HVAC techs are expected to increase by 15 percent in the next four years, which should contribute to higher wages.

Depending on where are you, you can make between $40,000 and $50,000 very early in your career.

With the need for technicians, there may be overtime as well.

The hours are long at times but it is a good job.

Is HVAC hard on your body?

HVAC work can be hard on your body.

Working long hours is stressful whether the work is hard or not.

HVAC techs often work in tight spaces that may be dirty, cold, or hot.

Much of the work is outdoors, so you need to be able to handle weather extremes.

HVAC can be hard on your body and your mental health, so it is important to find a way to balance work and life.

How much does it cost to get HVAC certified?

There is a wide variety of costs associated with HVAC certification, depending on where you are and what kind of training you get.

If you go through a university, it could cost about $5,000 per year.

A trade school could vary between $2,000 and $15,000.

How long is the HVAC trade certification process?

Generally, the HVAC program at most schools can take between six months and two years.

Online courses allow you to go at your own pace.

You will also have to go through an apprenticeship, and the length varies by state, but at least another year.

You may also get 3-5 years of experience as an apprentice and get certified without going to school as long as you pass the exam.

How can I be a good HVAC apprentice?

To be a good HVAC apprentice you must work hard and pay attention to the person you are working with.

Help the person you work with as much as you can, which will give you some experience in doing the work.

A good attitude, paying attention, and working hard are the keys to success.

Is HVAC hard to learn?

If you are mechanically inclined and pay attention to detail well, HVAC will not be very hard.

Having those basic skills upfront will make taking the program a lot easier.

It is not as hard to learn as electricity, but it is harder than some other courses.

Most people who begin an HVAC program can complete it without any problems.

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