Becoming a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) technician is an excellent career choice for those interested in working with their hands, solving complex problems, and having a career that’s in demand. HVAC technicians are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems. This article will guide you through the path of becoming an HVAC technician through a trade school HVAC program, covering the program requirements, costs, courses, and job prospects.

Requirements to Get Into an HVAC Program

To enroll in an HVAC technician program at a trade school, applicants generally need a high school diploma or GED. Some programs may also require passing a basic skills test in math and reading comprehension. Additionally, certain schools might ask for a background check or drug screening.

Average Cost of an HVAC Program

The cost of an HVAC technician program can vary widely depending on the school and location. On average, tuition ranges from $1,200 to $15,000 but many types of programs are available, from certification to associate’s degree. Some programs may include the cost of tools and materials in their fees, while others may require additional purchases. Financial aid, scholarships, and payment plans are often available to help manage the costs.

Courses in HVAC Programs

An HVAC technician program typically includes a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training. Key courses may include:

  • Introduction to HVAC Systems: Basics of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
  • Electrical Fundamentals: Understanding electrical circuits, wiring, and safety procedures.
  • Refrigeration Principles: Study of refrigeration cycles, components, and refrigerant handling.
  • Heating Systems: Installation and maintenance of furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps.
  • Air Conditioning Systems: Installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of air conditioning units.
  • Blueprint Reading: Understanding construction blueprints and system schematics.
  • EPA Certification Preparation: Training for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification exam, required for handling refrigerants.

Trade School vs. an Apprenticeship or On-the-Job Training

Lets consider some of the differences between attending trade school, becoming an apprentice, or getting on the job training.

Trade School

  • Structured Curriculum: Trade schools offer a comprehensive curriculum designed to cover all essential aspects of HVAC work.
  • Hands-On Training: Students receive practical, hands-on training in a controlled environment.
  • Time Frame: Programs typically last from 6 months to 2 years, allowing for a quicker entry into the workforce.
  • Certifications: Many trade schools prepare students for necessary certifications, such as the EPA certification.


  • Earn While You Learn: Apprentices get paid while gaining work experience.
  • Real-World Experience: Apprentices learn directly on the job, which can provide a deeper understanding of real-world scenarios.
  • Longer Duration: Apprenticeships usually last 3 to 5 years, which can delay entry into a full-time position.

On-the-Job Training

  • Immediate Work Experience: Individuals start working right away and learn through hands-on experience.
  • Lack of Structured Learning: There may be gaps in theoretical knowledge and understanding of certain principles.
  • Dependence on Employer: Quality of training can vary significantly based on the employer’s commitment to training.

Getting a Job After Graduation

Graduating from a trade school HVAC program equips you with the skills needed to enter the workforce. Many schools offer job placement services but there are a lot of ways to land your first job. Here are steps to enhance your job prospects:

  1. Obtain Certifications: Ensure you have necessary certifications, such as the EPA Section 608 certification for handling refrigerants.
  2. Create a Resume: Highlight your education, certifications, and hands-on experience by creating a professional resume.
  3. Network: Join professional organizations, such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), and attend industry events.
  4. Apply for Jobs: Look for entry-level HVAC technician positions through job boards, company websites, and local HVAC businesses.
  5. Consider Internships: Some graduates may have opportunities to start with an internship, to gain additional experience and make industry connections.

Whatever Way You Choose, HVAC is a Good Choice

A career as an HVAC technician offers a stable and rewarding path with opportunities for growth and specialization. By enrolling in a trade school program, you gain the necessary education, hands-on training, and certifications to embark on this promising career. Whether you choose a trade school, apprenticeship, or on-the-job training, the demand for skilled HVAC technicians continues to grow, ensuring a bright future in this essential field.