How to Become an HVAC Technician in Iowa

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Tired of feeling stuck in a desk job?

Ready to work with your hands and troubleshoot real mechanical problems?

A career as an HVAC technician could be the exciting change you’ve been looking for.

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

These systems are essential for keeping homes, businesses, and other buildings comfortable all year.

As an HVAC technician, you’ll play a vital role in communities across Iowa by keeping the air clean and temperature controlled for everyone.

In this article, I will walk you through the steps to enter this in-demand profession and start an HVAC technician career helping people and fixing complex systems.

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How to Become an HVAC Tech in Iowa, Step-By-Step

Educational Requirements

Many sponsors require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED as the minimum education level.

However, taking some HVAC coursework first can make you a stronger candidate and better prepared for an HVAC technician job.

There are a few different educational paths that can prepare you to enter the HVAC field in Iowa.

One option is to complete a certificate or associate’s degree program at a technical or trade school.

These programs typically take 6 months to 2 years of full-time study.

Coursework covers building science basics, HVAC systems, equipment operation and maintenance, welding, and more.

Certified training is available at schools in Iowa.

Alternatively, you can learn through an apprenticeship program.

Apprenticeship Programs in Iowa

Wondering how to become an HVAC technician without the high cost of vocational school?

HVAC apprenticeships in Iowa provide an affordable alternative.

Allowing you to earn while you learn through paid on-the-job training and classroom education.

You can become an apprentice through a union or employment with an HVAC company.

Applicants with experience may “pass through” the first two levels of training.

Students learn the basics as well as how to install and service specialized equipment.

This curriculum covers topics such as basic safety, basic electricity, heat pumps, metering devices, steam systems, indoor air quality, water treatment, troubleshooting heat pumps, troubleshooting oil heating, and soldering and brazing.

Qualifying students may be eligible for financial aid.

Licensing and Certification Requirements in Iowa

HVAC contractors are licensed by the Iowa Department of Public Health, Plumbing, and Mechanical Systems Board.

You must submit a NATE certification or show the equivalent educational or training experience.

In addition, it requires insurance, a bond, and a permanent business address.

HVAC technicians must obtain EPA Section 608 Technician Certification.

Although most states do not require HVAC mechanics to get any type of licensure, professionals must check with the state and local licensing requirements for their state before beginning work in the field.

Instead of a four-year degree, HVAC technicians take part in either trade school or an apprenticeship to gain the necessary work experience for the field before continuing to high roles.


Technicians are required to pass an EPA-approved exam to earn Section 608 technician certification.

The tests are tailored to the type of equipment that the technician wishes to work on.

An EPA-approved certifying organization must administer the tests.

Technician Certification credentials under Section 608 do not expire.


NATE Core Exam Certification: This certification validates technicians’ knowledge of HVACR systems in the field.

All North American Technician Excellence (NATE) exams use task analyses from HVACR experts in Knowledge Areas of Technician Expertise (KATEs).

HVAC technicians with less than two years of experience are eligible for the NATE entry-level certificate.

Most states, including Texas and Michigan, require technicians to hold a valid HVAC license.

HVAC Schools in Iowa

Two national trade organizations have Iowa chapters: the Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors of Iowa Association (PHCC-IA) and the Mechanical Contractors Association of Iowa (MCAI).

These and other industry associations provide support and training for HVAC/R technicians in the Hawkeye State.

Eastern Iowa Community CollegesEastern Iowa Community Colleges

  • Location: Bettendorf, IA
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence
  • Approximate Time to Complete: Three semesters
  • Tuition Cost: In-state ($175 per credit); online and nearby Illinois counties ($195 per credit); out-of-state ($242 per credit)

Des Moines Area Community CollegeDes Moines Area Community College

  • Location: Ankeny, IA
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Approximate Time to Complete: Diploma (three semesters); AAS (five semesters)
  • Tuition Cost: $170.00 per credit

Hawkeye Community CollegeHawkeye Community College

  • Location: Waterloo, Iowa
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
  • Approximate Time to Complete: Three semesters
  • Tuition Cost: Resident ($192 per credit); non-resident ($217 per credit)

North Iowa Area Community CollegeNorth Iowa Area Community College

  • Location: Mason City, IA
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Approximate Time to Complete: Diploma (two semesters); AAS (four semesters)
  • Tuition Cost: Iowa residents ($165.75 per credit); non-residents ($248.63 per credit)
School Name Address
Eastern Iowa Community Colleges 101 W 3rd St, Davenport, IA 52801, United States
Des Moines Area Community College 1144 7th St, Des Moines, IA 50314, United States
Hawkeye Community College 1501 E Orange Rd, Waterloo, IA 50701, United States
North Iowa Area Community College 500 College Dr, Mason City, IA 50401, United States

HVAC Technician Salary in Iowa

HVAC professionals earn competitive salaries for positions that require just two years of post-secondary training.

BLS states the yearly wage for HVAC workers nationwide was $77,792 per year.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Des Moines $47,350
Cedar Rapids $46,912
Davenport $46,533
Sioux City $42,563
Iowa City $46,530
Waterloo $45,447
Council Bluffs $46,355
Ames $46,908
West Des Moines $47,350
Dubuque $46,282

Regional Salary in Iowa

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Ames, IA160$53,270$25.61$62,730$37,920
Cedar Rapids, IA320$58,590$28.17$81,240$37,240
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL370$54,740$26.32$77,430$34,990
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA1,150$56,310$27.07$80,160$35,900
Dubuque, IA110$52,370$25.18$67,750$36,910
Iowa City, IA180$58,330$28.05$80,870$37,200
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD360$56,170$27.01$79,200$36,660
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA190$53,040$25.5$65,420$36,840
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers, OCC Code 49-9021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need experience to become an HVAC technician?

While experience is not always required, it can make you a stronger candidate for apprenticeship programs or jobs.

Consider starting with HVAC vocational training to gain some initial skills and on-the-job training through an apprenticeship.

Is HVAC work physically demanding?

Yes, HVAC technicians perform work that can be physically demanding, as it involves lifting, carrying, climbing, crawling into tight spaces, and working in variable weather conditions.

The work requires good hand-eye coordination, strength, and stamina.

What is the job outlook for HVAC technicians?

The HVAC career field is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade in Iowa and nationwide.

As building infrastructure expands and ages, there will be increased demand for skilled HVAC professionals to install, maintain, and repair complex systems.

How long does it take to become an HVAC technician?

The time it takes can vary depending on your education path.

Formal training programs typically last 1-2 years.

Registered apprenticeships last 4 years with on-the-job training and classroom instruction.

With experience, obtaining certification exams may take 6 months to a year of dedicated study.

HVAC Technician Info by State

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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