Air conditioning technicians regularly work with cooling systems and may have expertise in handling heating and ventilation systems. Basic knowledge of how to properly dispose-off coolants as well as a good understanding of state-specific regulations is a prerequisite for this job. As a technician, you can either be self-employed or work for public or private institutions.
What AC Technicians Do
Your job as an air conditioning contractor typically involves installing, maintaining, and repairing the electrical equipment, the ductwork, and the controls found in residential and industrial cooling systems.
Depending on the problem you have been called to address, your job may be indoor or outdoor based. As an air conditioning technician, you might need to travel to perform on-site repairs in warm or cold environments.
However, before you go long into the AC technician profession, bear in mind that the operation of the heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems comes with its own high health risks and injury.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career requirements needed to work as an AC technician includes:
- Post-secondary education or training with the evidence of a certificate, associate degree, or apprenticeship in the field of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
- 2 years experience in the field of HVAC
- Mandatory refrigerant handling certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- State-mandated licensing and other voluntary professional certification
- Possession of skills such as physical strength, good hand-eye coordination, customer service, troubleshooting, time management, ability to use specialized HVAC equipment like power tools, air gauges, refrigerants, pressure meters, power hacksaws, and voltage meters
While apprenticeship is a basic requirement to becoming an AC technician, a lot of other requirements are obviously needed and are paramount to securing those HVAC jobs faster.
Take a look at the 6 basic steps you must follow to becoming a successful AC technician:
Step I: Complete A Formal Training in HVAC
As earlier stated, to have an edge in the AC engineer’s workspace, you will need to have completed some form of formal training; be it apprenticeship programs, certificate programs, or associate degree programs.
It is incomplete to simply have extensive work experience in HVAC operations without going through any of the formal programs.
While you could still be employed without them depending on the company, there is every chance you will be dropped once a person who has all matching criteria submits an application. Within 3 to 5 years, an HVAC apprenticeship should have been completed. Certificate programs require a year of full-time study whereas associate degree programs will take you about 2 years to complete. Some of the courses you’ll be studying include basic electricity, control wiring, sheet metal fabrication, and refrigeration.
It is always a good idea to take elective courses in computer science and electronics as AC technicians who are skilled in working with complex electronics and computer systems are always a hot-cake in the HVAC job market.
Courses covering topics like micro processing, industrial electronics, digital circuitry, and engineering mathematics would be a plus.
Step II: Earn Your EPA Certification
You will be needing the EPA certification in order to operate as an AC technician. The federal law necessitates AC contractors who work with refrigerants to undertake certification exams that are specially prepared to ensure that the AC expert can safely handle these materials.
Exam topics would usually include shipping and disposal for high-pressure refrigerants, low-pressure refrigerants, or small appliances, refrigerant recovery as well as recycling.
There are a number of EPA-approved technical schools and colleges that easily provide such certification exams.
Step III: Acquire Work Experience
Different employers have different requirements in terms of your years of experience in HVAC operations. Basically, most employers won’t be looking for anything less than 2 years.
Many states also require you to provide your work experience as a prerequisite for obtaining a state license. Where some states are okay with 2 years, others may request for up to 7 years of work experience especially for those who didn’t undergo or who didn’t complete a formal training program.
To meet this kind of requirement, it is usual for would-be AC technicians to get an entry-level job working alongside already established technicians with a popular company name.
Step IV: Get Your License
Different states will often ask that certain criteria be met for licenses to be given. Such criteria are unique to each state, but all of them would always require that air conditioning technicians pass a licensing exam after they must have provided a satisfactory work experience.
Some states mandate that you undergo and pass criminal background checks and also require that you have liability insurance or performance bonds. Minimum age requirements are also checked.
Some state licensing panels require that air conditioning technicians complete 4 hours of continuing education before a license renewal is approved. You may need to check requirements peculiar to your state.
Step V: Advance Your Career by Earning Professional Certification
Getting more professional certification is necessary for boosting your career opportunities and employability as an AC technician.
Professional associations, such as the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute and HVAC Excellence, give much-needed credentials to AC technicians who are able to meet work experience requirements and get acceptable scores in their specialized exams.
Step VI: Build On Your Skills
You’re an air conditioning technician and have been fully trained to install, repair, and maintain the ductwork, electrical equipment, and controls found in cooling systems.
You most likely already have post-secondary training, EPA certificates, and state-mandated licenses. However, you haven’t gotten there yet. Like every other profession, you are expected to build on your skills to make you a better operator. You’re expected to be strong, with good customer service skills and the ability to handle and use the latest tools that are relevant to fixing faults or installing HVAC systems.
Getting the most out of your career path is essential to fulfilling your dreams and have the feeling of achievement. Hence, always strive to get the latest info and updates that will keep you one step ahead.