How to Become an HVAC Technician in Indiana
Knowing how to become an HVAC tech is important in starting off your career in this rewarding skilled trade. In Indiana, there are no specific requirements, but most people entering the field begin by finding a post-secondary HVAC degree or certificate program or by beginning in an apprenticeship role. With either option, the idea is to learn in a classroom setting and get hands-on training before landing a job as an HVAC worker. Before you get started, make sure you know what the licensing requirements are in the city or county in which you hope to work. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Indiana
Unlike some states, Indiana has not set any statewide rules or regulations for the licensing of HVAC technicians, the workers who install, repair, maintain and inspect heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems in homes and commercial buildings. Many cities, counties and other local governments throughout the state do have their own requirements, so it is important to find out what those are if you have a specific area in mind for starting your career.
In general, employers who hire HVAC workers prefer to hire those with some educational background. This means completing either a post-secondary HVAC program or enrolling directly in an apprenticeship program. The latter typically provides the classroom work as well as on-the-job training with a salary.
HVAC Programs in Indiana
Academic, post-secondary programs in HVAC are accredited by the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. Indiana does not have any PAHRA-accredited schools, but all of the programs for HVAC offered at Ivy Tech Community College campuses are accredited by HVAC Excellence.
Ivy Tech offers HVAC programs at several campuses throughout the state, including Bloomington, Kokomo, South Bend, Evansville, Terre Haute, Lafayette and Muncie. Ivy offers courses that are lab-based, so even without an apprenticeship you have the opportunity to learn hands-on skills. Students can choose between a 21-credit certificate or 32-credit technical certificate program. Either takes one year or less to complete.
There are also several apprenticeship programs available in Indiana for learning to be an HVAC tech, mostly run through local unions. In Indianapolis, for instance, Local 440 Plumbers, Pipefitters and HVAC Service Technicians offers apprenticeship positions. The requirements for enrolling include being at least 18 years old, having a high school diploma or GED, having a valid driver’s license and passing a WorkKeys Assessment Test. These requirements are similar for other union apprenticeships throughout the state
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Indiana
With no statewide requirements for licensing of HVAC workers, it is up to individual cities and counties to determine if technicians need to be licensed. Many only require licensing for contractors. Working as an apprentice or a journeyman hired by a contractor, you likely won’t need to be licensed. If you want to become a contractor, however, you will need to find out how to get licensed.
In South Bend and St. Joseph County, licensing for HVAC contractors requires a completed application form, an age of 21 or older, four years or more of work experience, reference letters, a $50 fee and the purchase of an original surety bond. In Indianapolis, workers and contractors both need to be licensed. Contractors must pay a license fee, submit an application and have purchased a surety bond and liability insurance. For workers who are not contractors, there are work experience requirements and exams that must be passed depending on the license type.
Environmental Protection Agency Section 608 certification is required for any HVAC worker who handles and works with refrigerants. It is a requirement for workers anywhere in the U.S. and is guided by the Clean Air Act. You need to pass a test to get certified, and most HVAC programs will prepare you to pass it.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
HVAC careers in Indiana and throughout the country are on the rise. The growth in new jobs is 15 percent, which is much higher than average job growth, providing stability for new workers in this field. The average annual salary for HVAC technicians in Indiana is $44,060, and the average hourly wage is $21.18.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Indiana
As an HVAC technician in Indiana you will most likely work for a contractor. Some contractors focus on residential systems only, while others work in commercial buildings, like large office buildings, hospitals or government buildings. With a few years of experience you will have the opportunity to become a self-employed HVAC contractor. Most jobs for new HVAC workers are available in the larger cities in the state, including Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville and South Bend.