• A Career in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

Average Wages

Average HVACR Technician Salary

Skill Level

Hourly

Yearly

Apprentice (starting)

$15 – $25

$32,200 – $52,000

Journeyman

$25 – $40

$52,000 – $83,200

Master

$40 – $50+

$83,200 – $104,000+

Step 1

Set Your Foundation for Education


Earning your high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED, is your first step on the path to becoming a Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) Technician. Having a basic knowledge of reading, writing, science, and math are critical to pursuing any career in the pro trade industry. For technicians, having an advanced knowledge of math and science are absolutely necessary since the work often involves monitoring temperatures and pressures. Areas of your high school or equivalent education that will benefit you as a technician include:

  • Math
  • Shop Classes
  • Computer Training
  • Science
  • Business Communication

Step 2

Keep your record clean

In addition to earning your high school diploma or GED, other factors that can impact your HVACR career are your driving record, your criminal background, and your ability to pass a drug test. Training programs and future employers might be deterred from working with you for safety and insurance reasons if you have:

  • DUIs or DWIs
  • Reckless driving convictions
  • An extensive number of moving violations
  • Certain misdemeanor offenses
  • Felony convictions of any kind
  • Failed a drug test

If you have a valid driver’s license, are drug-free and have a clean driving record and criminal background, then it will be easier for you to pursue a HVACR career.

Once you have earned your high school diploma or equivalent, the next step is to enroll in technical HVACR courses. Many states require a certain number of hours in the classroom in order to become a licensed technician. Technical courses are offered by a variety of public and private schools and programs. Check out local community colleges, trade institutions, unions or professional HVACR associations for information about these programs in your area. The curriculum will depend on your city or state’s requirements, but topics could include:

  • Air conditioners
  • Furnaces
  • Chillers and Ice machines
  • Cooling appliances
  • Local HVACR codes

Recommendation: Joining the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Associations can help you grow your HVACR career.

Step 3

Find an apprenticeship

Depending on where you live, you will be required to work alongside an experienced technician as an apprentice for a certain number of hours. The length of the apprenticeship will vary but could take as long as two to five years. You might be able to complete your apprenticeship while you are enrolled in technical courses. In order to find a HVACR apprenticeship, you can start by checking with the trade school or organization through which you are receiving technical training. If they do not offer an apprenticeship program, they will have information about where to find one.

Pro tip: You can also check with local Heating and Cooling businesses to see if they are hiring apprentices. Not only will you receive valuable on-the-job training from a seasoned pro, but they will pay you for the hours you work. This gives you the opportunity to earn while you learn.

Step 4

Take the test

Certain areas will require you to pass a written exam, a practical test or both in order for you to earn your HVACR license. If testing is required in your area, you will have to take it once you have completed your technical courses and your apprenticeship program. In general, you can expect the exam to be cumulative of what you learned on the job and in the classroom. Based on your state and local requirements, you might then be considered a licensed journeyman technician once you pass the test. If so, then you might be legally allowed to complete HVACR contract work without the assistance of another qualified technician depending on where you live.