How to Get an HVAC Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is an important way to learn a skilled trade. It is a type of hands-on training that allows you to learn a profession by working under the supervision of someone with more experience. To work in HVAC, which is the maintenance, repair and installation of heating, cooling and ventilation systems, you may need to take some classes or even earn a two-year degree, but most importantly you will need to work as an apprentice.

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What is an Apprenticeship?

In its simplest form, an apprenticeship is training while working. Any time you learn from someone more experienced while working and earning, you are apprenticing. More formally, an apprenticeship is a recognized program that matches trainees with professionals in skilled trades. The apprentice learns a new trade while working and earning an income, and the professional gets an entry-level employee.

An apprenticeship combines this hands-on training with classroom work and takes between three and five years to complete. The typical outcome and goal of an apprenticeship is to train a new worker in a skilled trade so that he or she can begin to work independently. Some apprenticeships also culminate in certification or licensing.

Is an Apprenticeship Required for an HVAC Career?

Requirements for working as an HVAC technician vary. Some states have requirements for licensing and training, while others leave it up to local governments to set requirements, if any, for becoming an HVAC worker. Before beginning a career in HVAC it is important to find out what the requirements are where you hope to work.

In most place, an apprenticeship is not required, but it is often a preferred way to train and learn. You may choose to first earn a post-secondary diploma or degree in HVAC and then find a training-only apprenticeship. Or, you might want to find an apprenticeship program that includes both the hands-on training and the classroom work you need to start your career.

Where to Find an Apprenticeship

There are many ways to look for an HVAC apprenticeship, including simply contacting local HVAC companies to find out if they are taking on apprentices for work and training. Here are some other options for landing an apprenticeship:

  • Enroll in a community college or technical college program for HVAC that includes apprenticeship placement.
  • Search for a Registered Apprenticeship Program through the U.S. Department of Labor or a state labor or apprenticeship agency. These programs are standardized, nationally recognized and include instruction and hands-on training.
  • You can also search the U.S. Department of Labor’s Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs. These programs also include class instruction and on-the-job training and are accredited by industry organizations.
  • Contact local Steamfitter, Pipefitter and HVAC unions for apprenticeship and training programs. Also try non-union organizations, like Associated Builders and Contractors.

Typical Apprenticeship Requirements

Each apprenticeship program is likely to have its own list of requirements to be accepted, but there are some that are common to most. For instance, you will probably need to be 18 by the time the program starts; you need to have a high school diploma or GED; you will need a valid driver’s license; and you must be physically able to do the work.