When it comes to looking for engineering-based apprenticeships, a lot of people may choose to do a HVAC apprenticeship.
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, meaning that you will learn to become a technician who handles the units and machinery that deals with these areas.
It is a very useful trade in a sector that is always looking for more experts, so you might be tempted to apply for an HVAC apprenticeship – but how long will it be until you are qualified as an official technician?
If you have any doubts or worries about HVAC apprenticeships and their length in time, then we are here to help.
We are going to look into how long an HVAC apprenticeship is and just how long it will be before you are classed as ready to work as a fully qualified HVAC technician.
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How Long Is A HVAC Apprenticeship?
HVAC apprenticeships are completed by fulfilling both classroom instructions and on the job training.
One of the main differences from a college course or university is that apprenticeships allow you to earn wages while learning. As for length, HVAC apprenticeships tend to take 3-5 years to complete.
Why The Difference?
Because the number of hours needed for you to apply for your full HVAC technician license varies from state to state.
Plus, it is up to you how many hours of work you complete week to week. Some states may not even ask for hours, but a certain amount of years work experience.
While the classroom time does not count, you will still be learning vital information to help you pass your HVAC license examination.
These courses cover subjects like reading blueprints, using and caring for certain tools, and designing air conditioning systems.
On-hand work experience is where you will build your hours up until you reach the total amount needed to sit your license exam.
If you work overtime and through peak seasons, you will quickly accumulate your hours and can complete it within a minimum of 3 years.
However, you can also choose to work less in the week and work for a longer period of time, which will likely take you a maximum of 5 years to complete.
As you will be earning a wage while completing your apprenticeship, it is completely up to you, which method is best for you.
You won’t have to worry about living costs as you will be earning while also studying and completing your apprenticeship.
Is There A Faster Way To Become A HVAC Technician?
Possibly. The other ways to become a HVAC technician include learning on the job or getting a degree.
If you have a high school diploma, you can start training to become an HVAC technician by helping an already qualified HVAC technician. A company near you might be willing to take you on and teach you while on the job.
Of course, you will still need to pass an examination to earn your HVAC qualification, so you will also need to teach yourself the subjects taught in HVAC courses.
Because the courses are so thorough and there is a lot to earn, this process will take you a few years before you are ready to sit the exam.
Another way to become a HVAC technician is to get a degree or earn a HVAC certification.
By enrolling in a degree program, you will split your time between classroom learning and practical experience in labs to see the techniques in action.
These programs take between 6 months to 2 years, and some offer access to internships as a way for you to build your experience. However, all these routes lead to the aim: the HVAC license exam.
The qualifications needed to sit this exam vary from state to state, meaning that even if you complete your HVAC degree in 6 months.
You might not be allowed to sit the license exam because you have not got enough hours of experience.
HVAC License Requirements By State
Every state has its own requirements when it comes to qualifying for the HVAC license exam, and may require you to have a completely different license first!
Although you should be able to look up the requirements in your state without issue (the information is very easy to find online), here are some examples of how different the requirements are from state to state.
Some states like Colorado and Kansas do not require you to have a license at all to become an HVAC technician.
You can become certified, but your local area may require local licensing instead. It is important to check the jurisdiction in the area in which you plan to work first.
Other states like Hawaii and California require you to have proof of four years of experience in the last ten years.
This means you cannot do your apprenticeship and then sit the exam eleven years later – once you are finished, you have six years to pass your exam.
In Texas, you need four years of practical experience in HVAC in the past six years, giving you even less time to pass.
However, most states require at least 2 years of experience which you can build while completing your apprenticeship.
For example, Arkansas, New Mexico and Idaho have 2 year work experience requirements that you need to meet before you can sit the license exams in those states.
And finally, some states like Wisconsin or Alabama offer requirements for a certain amount of hours instead of years – with 1,000 hours of experience in Wisconsin and 3,000 hours of experience in Alabama.
If your state requires a certain amount of hours, it will most likely be between these two figures.
Alabama claims that 3,000 hours is the equivalent of 18 months full time work, but obviously between your class studies, you can choose to spread those hours over a longer period of time.
So – how long is a HVAC apprenticeship?
It depends on how you spread your work experience hours, but most HVAC technicians complete their apprenticeships between 3-5 years.
If you want to try and finish your HVAC apprenticeship as quickly as possible, you may still be restricted from sitting your license exam due to state requirements.
So, even if you finish your apprenticeship in just 3 years in California, you would still need to work for a further year before you meet the requirements to sit the licensing exam.
Check what the requirements are in your state before starting an apprenticeship so you can decide if extending your hours over a longer period of time might be more advantageous to you.
We hope this has helped clear some information about HVAC apprenticeships for you. Good luck!