How to Become an HVAC Technician in Washington D.C.
Whether you are just starting to work or looking to change career fields, a career as an HVAC technician is a worthwhile one. The job field has a high growth rate, and the job pays well. HVAC technicians install, fix and update heating and cooling systems so that people may remain comfortable in their homes, work buildings and other environments. HVAC technicians read blueprints, make sure HVAC systems are compliant with local and federal codes, test HVAC components, calibrate equipment, calculate heat loads and losses and educate their clients on safety and energy conservation. With its warm, humid summers and temperatures dipping just below freezing in the winter, the nation’s capital is a good place to consider working as an HVAC technician. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Washington D.C.
To work as an HVAC technician in Washington, D.C., you must be licensed. This licensure is provided through the District of Columbia Board of Industrial Trades. You must start off as an apprentice and work your way up to a journeyman license, then a master license. All licenses require prior work experience, which can be gained while working as an apprentice. Furthermore, any HVAC worker who will be involved in the purchasing or handling of refrigerants must hold EPA Section 608 certification.
HVAC Programs in Washington D.C.
Apprenticeship programs are popular training methods for trade careers. Apprentices get a combination of classroom and on-the-job training and are paid for the time they work. Since licensure is required in the federal district, and work experience is required for that licensure, an apprenticeship is a great way to gain that experience.
One of the best apprenticeship programs in Washington D.C. is offered through the UA Steamfitters Local 602. This program lasts five years. During their training, apprentices will attend night classes two nights a week. Apprentices will be paid for their work and will not have to pay tuition for the educational courses. The only costs they will incur are the cost of books, certification fees and union fees. Other benefits to this apprenticeship program include a medical plan, pension plan and retirement savings fund.
Many HVAC workers choose to complete a certificate or degree program. This is not required in Washington D.C., and you will still need work experience to become licensed. You may want to check with the Board of Industrial Trades, as some licenses will accept educational training in exchange for some of the required work experience. Many aspiring HVAC technicians complete educational programs that have been accredited by either the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) or HVAC Excellence. There are no educational training programs available in the capital, but you may be interested in programs offered in nearby states.
- Lincoln Tech in Maryland offers an HVAC certificate program that consists of 45 credit hours. This program can be completed in about 10 months if day classes are taken, and approximately a year and a half through night classes.
- Virginia has several HVAC training programs, but only one that is accredited. This program is offered at Northern Virginia Community College. They offer a two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Air Conditioning & Refrigeration. There are also two certificate programs available: Air Conditioning & Refrigeration and HVAC-R and Facilities Services Technology. These programs can be completed in one year but are not accredited.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Washington D.C.
The District of Columbia Board of Industrial Trades regulates the licensure of HVAC workers in Washington D.C. HVAC workers begin as apprentices. No prior experience is required, but you must apply for an apprentice license through the Board. You must have proof of employment or enrollment in an apprenticeship program. The next license is the journeyman license. You can apply to get your journeyman license by waiver or by exam. If you choose journeyman by waiver, you must have completed an apprenticeship training program that lasted a minimum of four years. If you choose journeyman by exam, you must provide proof of three years of work experience. The final license available to HVAC workers in D.C. is the master license. You must have five years of work experience. You must pass an exam to get the journeyman and master level licenses.
The Clean Air Act states that all persons working with refrigerants must hold Section 608 certification, provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. Since many HVAC workers handle refrigerants, it is necessary that they have this certification. An exam must be taken to get this certification
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
HVAC jobs are growing at a national rate of 15 percent and at a rate of eight percent in Washington D.C. Although that is less than the national growth rate, it is still an increase. Because these systems need to be updated and replaced every 10 to 15 years, there will always be a need for workers in this field. According to the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), there were 310 HVAC workers in D.C. in 2016, and it is predicted that there will be 340 workers by 2026, meaning at least 30 new jobs in the field will become available over the next few years.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average annual salary for HVAC workers in the federal district was $67,920, making this the highest paying area in the United States.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Washington D.C.
Most HVAC technicians work for independent contractors or contracting companies. In Washington D.C., apprentices and journeymen must work under HVAC workers who hold master licenses. Jobs are available throughout the capital, but consider looking for work at places like Alarm.com, Siemens, United Airlines and Sears.
If you are interested in a career that helps others and pays well, consider becoming an HVAC technician. If you are ready to begin your training as an apprentice, you can be on your way to becoming a top earning HVAC worker in Washington D.C. at any time.