How to Become an HVAC Technician in Colorado
Looking for a skilled trade career in Colorado? Demand is high for HVAC technicians. These are the professionals who install, take care of, and repair heating, cooling and ventilation systems(HVAC systems) in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. With just a little bit of training and education you can qualify to work in HVAC in one of the state’s municipalities. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Colorado
Colorado does not have any statewide requirements for working in HVAC. Many cities, counties and municipalities do have their own requirements and licensing, though, so it is important to find out what those are in the area you hope to work. In general, you will need to show that you have some work experience, usually in the position of apprentice or assistant learning on the job. Many employers also prefer to hire workers who have completed some amount of classwork in HVAC topics.
To work as an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or its equivalent. Post education or on-the-job training through apprenticeship is suggested for those hoping to pursue a career in the HVAC industry.
HVAC Program topics may include:
- Gas pipe system design
- Gas heating systems
- Hot water heating systems
- Basic gas furnaces
- Ac and dc circuits
- basic electricity
Apprenticeship training programs can take up to four years to complete and require a minimum of 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training each year.
You should also be prepared to obtain HVAC certification in order to work in the HVAC industry in Colorado. Federal law requires that technicians who work with refrigerants must be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In order to get this certification, you must pass a written examination. Some states also require HVAC technicians to be licensed. The type of license required and the requirements for obtaining it vary from state to state.
Apprenticeships and HVAC Schools in Colorado
One way to get started on an HVAC career in Colorado is to earn a certificate or two-year associate’s degree. This will get your foot in the door and make it easier to find an apprenticeship or entry-level job you’ll need for work experience and licensing. HVAC academic programs may be accredited by HVAC Excellence or the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).
Aspiring HVAC technicians in Colorado have several options for completing an apprenticeship. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship program is one way to get started in an HVAC career. Alternatively, many trade associations, such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), offer apprenticeships. Some technical schools also have their own HVAC apprenticeship programs.
Once you have completed an apprenticeship or other work experience, you may want to consider going back to school for an HVAC certificate or degree. This can help you move into a leadership position in your company or find a job with a higher salary.
Students can consider the following HVAC training programs in Colorado:
- Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado Springs. Pikes Peak offers one associate’s degree program, which takes two years to complete. This is designed to prepare students to begin a career in HVAC and is accredited by HVAC Excellence. The school also has three certificate programs in residential HVAC, digital controls and industry upgrades.
- IntelliTec College, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction. Also accredited by HVAC Excellence, IntelliTec offers a two-year degree in HVAC and refrigeration. This program prepares students for entry-level careers in heating, cooling and refrigeration and for apprenticeships.
- Front Range Community College, Loveland. At the Loveland campus of Front Range, students can earn a two-year degree in HVAC. The program is accredited by PAHRA and prepares students to begin working in the industry. The school also offers certificates in residential AC and heating, light commercial AC and heating, commercial refrigeration and HVAC fundamentals.
Financial aid may be available to students of these schools who qualify. Contact the financial office at the institution you are interested in attending for more information.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Colorado
Colorado does not have any requirements for HVAC technician licensing. If you are planning to work in the state, you will need to find out what licensing is needed where you hope to be hired. Here are some examples from some of the largest population centers in Colorado:
- Denver. To be licensed in the city, you must complete an application with the Denver Community Planning and Development board. To be a licensed journeyman, you need four years of HVAC work experience. Supervisor licensing requires eight years of experience. You can also get licensed to work only on residential HVAC or only refrigerant, each of which requires two to four years of experience.
- Fort Collins. The Fort Collins Contractor Licensing Department offers licensing for HVAC technicians. Requirements include two years of experience on the job, proof of at least three projects and a passing score on the ICC National Standard Master Mechanical Exam.
- Pikes Peak. The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department provides licenses for workers in Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and El Paso County. You can become licensed as an HVAC service technician, a residential contractor or a commercial contractor. Each license requires passing an appropriate exam. Contractors must have liability insurance.
Any HVAC worker handling refrigerant materials must have EPA certification as required by the Clean Air Act. This applies everywhere in the U.S., regardless of local or state requirements. To achieve the certification you must pass an examination.
Please see the Environmental Protection Agency Section 608 certification for more information.
Completion of a certified HVAC program, obtaining licensure as well as having a sufficient amount of work experience on residential and light commercial HVAC systems are the key steps to becoming an HVAC technician in Colorado. With these steps, you will be on your way to a successful career in this field.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
The job outlook for HVAC professionals is very positive and should continue to be good for years to come. New construction in Colorado and an ongoing need for maintenance and technical updates will mean that qualified HVAC workers will be needed for a long time. The country-wide growth in this industry is an impressive 20 percent. HVAC workers in Colorado earn on average $57,230 per year, which is much higher than the national average of $48,630.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Colorado
The greatest number of job opportunities for HVAC technicians in Colorado will be found in population centers, including Denver, Fort Collins and the Pikes Peak region. You can expect to enjoy good job stability in these areas.
Residential and commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems will continue to need regular maintenance and occasional replacement. The growing popularity of solar power, geothermal and other green energy sources will also create new job opportunities for HVAC professionals in the state.
Most workers are hired by contracting companies, but with a few years on the job you may qualify to become a contractor and own a small business employing others. A career as an HVAC technician is a lucrative, challenging and rewarding one, and it only takes a couple of years to get there.
How do I Become an HVAC Technician in Colorado?
- 1. Review your city or county regulations for HVAC provider licensing
- 2. If required, meet local licensing guidelines for training, experience and/or HVAC certification
- 3. If needed, pass the exam for EPA Section 608 certification, which allows you to work with refrigerants
How much does HVAC school cost in Colorado?
It depends on the program. For a two-year associate's degree, the cost ranges from about $6,000 to $27,000. For a four-year bachelor's degree, the cost ranges from about $15,000 to $53,000.