What types of HVAC certifications are available?
There are plenty of HVAC certifications depending on what area you specialize in such as, ventilation, refrigeration and gas. The most popular is the EPA Section 608 Certifications. Most certifications available are school specific. There are no state specific certifications available as there are with say Real Estate license in each state. Most HVAC certifications vary by school, but make no mistake about them, employers value your school’s HVAC certification highly.
About the EPA Certification
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has a series 608 examination which encompasses several areas of HVAC certification: Types I, II, III and Universal certification.
Type I Certification – This certification allows the HVAC technician to work on small appliances that contain less than 5 pounds of refrigerant.
Type II Certification – This certification allows the HVAC technician to work on medium, high and very high pressure systems. This encompasses all appliances that are not covered by the Type I and Type III HVAC certifications.
Type III Certification – This certification allows the HVAC Technician to work on all low-pressure appliances.
Type IV / Universal Certification – The certification allows the HVAC technician to work on all appliances.
How long does it take to get certified?
It depends on what method you choose in order to become certified. If you select to go to a technical school full time you can complete your HVAC training in 15 months. For part time, expect to be complete in 24 months (2 years). By going to a community college the HVAC training course will take 2 years and will culminate in either a certificate or an Associates degree in Applied Science for HVAC Systems.
In truth, anyone can sit an take the EPA Section 608 exam to get certified. There are numerous study guides online. Some schools, such as Penn Foster, give online module based courses. The courses are usually taken at the student’s pace, but some other schools require you to complete the modules in a set period of time.
How much do certifications cost?
Most vocational schools cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 for the course. Colleges will vary and you should check their ‘Tuitions and Fees’ section of their website to find out how much the program would cost. Online training schools have various prices, but they will give you the exam vouchers, so that you don’t have to pay for them. This happens once you complete their training and is to ensure that you do not lose money on the test fees before you are ready to take the exam.
If you are going to go the self-study route for the exam then the fees are roughly $25 per exam, or $47 for the Type IV/Universal Exam.
Will a certification help get me a job?
It does help. But, as with most career fields, experience is really paramount. Having an HVAC certification can demonstrate that you have the knowledge, are capable of learning, and that you have the ability to complete what you start. All are very attractive for employers. To increase your chances of getting an HVAC position, it is best to get certified and complete some formal training such as an apprenticeship, community college courses or vocational school.
Will a certification make me more money?
In the long run, yes. The more certifications you own the more money you could potentially earn. But, as stated before, experience is paramount. The more skilled and experienced you are the greater your chances are for increasing your pay. HVAC certifications are a great way of demonstrating that you have the experience and skills needed to successfully perform in any company.