How to Become an HVAC Technician in Illinois
If you’re looking for a career in the skilled trades that will provide job stability and a good income, consider training to become an HVAC technician. In Illinois and elsewhere, demand continues to grow for qualified HVAC workers to install systems in new buildings and to make upgrades and repairs in old systems as technologies continue to advance. [Leer en español]
Illinois has no statewide licensing for HVAC technicians, so you’ll need to find out what the requirements are in the city or county in which you hope to work.
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Illinois
There are no statewide requirements in Illinois for HVAC workers. This means that you may need to have a good idea of where you want to work as you get started in training for this career. In general, beginning with a college HVAC program or an apprenticeship will set you on the right path toward being qualified to work in any city or county. You need classroom work and hands-on training, which you can get from college classes and apprenticeships.
HVAC Programs in Illinois
While the state does not outline any requirements for education or training of HVAC workers, you can look to HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) to find a program in the state that is accredited. Some of the schools that offer these programs include:
- Midwest Technical Institute, Springfield, East Peoria, Moline. Midwest Tech has several campus choices for students and programs that are accredited by HVAC Excellence. The programs include major appliance repair and refrigeration along with HVAC coursework.
- HVAC Technical Institute, Chicago. Also accredited by HVAC Excellence, this program is available to students in the Chicago area. Graduates are prepared for entry-level jobs and will be EPA Section 608 certified to work with refrigerants.
- Elgin Community College, Elgin. Elgin students can earn an associate’s degree in HVAC technology through this program that is accredited by PAHRA. Students will learn in the classroom and in hands-on situations.
- Oakton Community College, East Peoria. Also accredited by PAHRA, this program prepares students for HVAC careers with a two-year degree. Graduates will be ready to work in entry-level HVAC and refrigeration jobs.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Illinois
There is no Illinois agency that licenses or certifies HVAC workers. Some cities and counties do require licensing and set their own regulations for who qualifies. For example, in Elgin, HVAC technicians need to register with the Department of Community Development. Candidates must submit an application with a fee and pass an exam with a score of at least 76 percent.
According to the Clean Air Act, any HVAC worker who will be handling refrigerants must be certified through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is a federal rule that applies in all states. To achieve EPA Section 608 certification, you must be able to pass an exam.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Growth in HVAC careers throughout the country is currently strong. Illinois is no exception, and as new construction and upgrades to existing buildings continue, qualified HVAC workers will be needed. Right now, growth across the board is 15 percent, much faster than average job growth.
Expected salaries for HVAC technicians take into account average salaries. Nationwide, the average annual income is $47,080. In Illinois, the average is much higher, at $62,430. You can expect to earn more living and working in Illinois if you become a qualified HVAC worker.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Illinois
Most HVAC workers in Illinois are employed by contractors. Some are self-employed, which is something you can work toward if you choose to become an HVAC contractor. Some technicians may be hired by government agencies or by industrial or wholesale companies. In Illinois, you will find the greatest opportunities for work in the larger cities, like Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Springfield and Elgin.
HVAC work can sometimes be dangerous. It is physical work with a risk of accidents. But if you are careful, well trained and use safety gear, this can be a rewarding, challenging and interesting job that provides you with a good living for years to come.