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How do you become an AC technician?

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Quick Answer

To become an HVAC technician, get a job with an employer who offers on-the-job training or apprenticeship, or take training at a postsecondary technical or trade school or community college. HVAC training programs range from short six-month programs to two-year associate’s degree training programs.

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Although some HVAC technicians learn their skills on the job, many employers have a preference for formally trained applicants, and some states require licensing of HVAC technicians. Students in high school who are interested in becoming HVAC technicians should take courses in math, physics and shop and should strive to develop basic knowledge about electronics, plumbing and electrical work.

Apprenticeship programs for HVAC technicians usually feature 2,000 hours of on-the-job training per year for three to five years along with 144 hours of technical education. During the apprenticeship, apprentices learn about heating and cooling systems, how to use the tools of the trade and how to read blueprints. Entry into an apprenticeship generally requires the applicant to be 18 years of age or older with a high school diploma or GED. The applicant must pass a drug screening and basic math test and have a valid driver’s license.

HVAC technicians can become certified by several governing bodies within the industry, including the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society and the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute.

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