The only requirement for applying to most air conditioning schools or certification programs is a high school diploma or a GED. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning training is commonly offered through community colleges, trade schools and technical academies.
Aspiring HVAC technicians can prepare for careers in the field by taking appropriate classes during high school, such as computer science, chemistry, physics and math. Many high schools offer vocational education through shop classes, focusing on, technical math, blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, electronics and related fields. Taking these courses can give workers skills that are directly applicable to air conditioning work.
HVAC certificates or associate’s degrees commonly take between six months and two years to complete. These programs combine classroom work along with labs and job site training. The courses cover subjects including control systems, electrical work, ducts and piping, hydraulics and job site safety. Some programs offer internship opportunities for students to gain on-the-job experience.
After completing a certification course, many states require aspiring HVAC technicians to obtain a state license before practicing their trade. While requirements vary from state to state, most require technicians to complete formal exams. These tests can vary widely between states, with some focusing on general air conditioning knowledge and others emphasizing electrical code knowledge. HVAC technicians who plan to work with refrigerants must also receive certification through the Environmental Protection Agency.