How to Become an HVAC Technician in Hawaii
Hawaii basically has two seasons: summer and winter. The ocean surface temperature keeps the Hawaiian climate warm year-round, with only a slight temperature change between seasons. Because of the tropical climate, most natives of the islands rely on climate-controlled systems to keep their homes cool. These heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are maintained by professionals known as HVAC technicians. Besides maintenance, HVAC techs install and repair HVAC and refrigerant systems. Other job duties include testing HVAC equipment, reading blueprints, making sure systems are compliant with state and federal regulations and educating clients on energy conservation and how to safely use their HVAC systems. There is a high demand for these professionals in Hawaii, as the construction industry continues to thrive and workers are needed to repair and update these systems. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Hawaii
In Hawaii, an HVAC license is not required to find entry-level work as an HVAC technician. However, EPA Section 608 certification is necessary for anyone who works with refrigerants. You also have the option to attain a contractor’s license through the Board of Professional Vocational Licensing. Getting a contractor’s license can be financially beneficial to you and provide you with more work opportunities.
Most employers require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED and two years or more experience on the job. The best way to gain experience and train for a career in HVAC is through the completion of an apprenticeship or post-secondary educational program.
HVAC Apprenticeship and Educational Programs in Hawaii
Whether you are working toward getting your contractor’s license or looking for entry-level work, you will need training. A combination of educational and hands-on training through an apprenticeship or certificate or degree program can help prepare you for a successful career in the HVAC field.
The Honolulu Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee for the Plumbing and Pipefitting Local Union 675 offers an apprenticeship program in which apprentices must train for 10,000 work hours (approximately 5 years) and complete training classes focusing on safety, welding and other job-related skills. In addition to getting paid while working as an apprentice, participants in this program will be able to receive pension, health insurance and other benefits. You must be at least 17 years of old, have a driver’s license and have a high school diploma or GED to apply for this program.
If you choose to complete an educational program instead of an apprenticeship, many aspiring HVAC technicians enroll in programs that have been accredited by either HVAC Excellence or the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).
There are currently no colleges or universities in Hawaii that offer accredited HVAC programs. However, Honolulu Community College offers both a certificate of achievement and an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology. Both are two-year programs. General education courses are included in the AAS degree program.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Hawaii
EPA Section 608 certification through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required for any HVAC workers who will be handling refrigerants. An exam must be taken to get this certification, and the certification is broken down into four categories. If you will be working on small appliances, you will need Type 1 certification. Type 2 certification is for high-pressure appliances, and Type 3 is for low pressure appliances. And finally, if you are going to be working with all types of appliances, Type 4 is universal and covers them all.
To become licensed as an HVAC contractor in the state of Hawaii, you must pay an application fee to the Board of Professional & Vocational Licensing. You will also need to show proof of workers compensation insurance, liability insurance and property damage insurance.
Once your application has been approved, you must take a business and law exam and an HVAC exam. You will also need to choose a specialty classification. For example, class C-40 licenses are assigned to refrigeration contractors, and ventilating and air conditioning contractors fall under the classification C-52. At least four years of work experience as a journeyman in the field in which you choose to specialize is required for licensure. Contractor licenses must be renewed biannually, and a renewal fee will apply.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Jobs are on the rise across the United States for HVAC technicians, and Hawaii is no exception. Data from the Projections Managing Partnership show that there were 920 HVAC workers on the Hawaiian Islands in 2016. By 2026, that number is expected to increase by 11.7 percent to 1,030.
Hawaii is a great state for HVAC technicians financially. In fact, it is the third highest paying state for HVAC technicians in the United States. The average salary for HVAC workers in the state in 2017 was $30.07 hourly and $62,540 annually. The more experienced workers in the state earn as much as $95,300 annually.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Hawaii
Most HVAC technicians find work with contracting companies. However, many of them will go into business for themselves, especially those with contractors’ licenses.
There are many opportunities for HVAC technicians to find work across the islands, but most HVAC jobs can be found in Honolulu. Additionally, Honolulu is the highest paying area for HVAC workers in Hawaii. Other places to consider working as an HVAC technician in the state include Kauai, Kahului, Wailuku and Lahaina.
If you are interested in working as an HVAC technician in Hawaii, it would be a smart career move. No training is required to start a career in the field, but if you do complete a program you can be on your way to becoming one of the state’s top earners in just a couple of years.