How to Become an HVAC Technician in Kentucky
HVAC technicians work in the skilled trades, installing, maintaining and repairing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. They work throughout Kentucky on new buildings, residential buildings, commercial buildings and even in industrial settings. They are highly skilled and have been trained and then licensed by the state. This is a growing field as demand continues to grow for qualified individuals. You can become an HVAC worker and enjoy a great salary and job security by spending just a few years learning and training. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Kentucky
All HVAC workers in Kentucky must be licensed through the state. There are three levels of licensing: apprentice, journeyman and master contractor. To begin your career in HVAC you will need to become an apprentice. To do this, one option is to enroll in an apprenticeship program. These programs are usually run through local unions and provide both classroom learning and paid apprentice work with training. You can also start with a post-secondary academic program in HVAC, but you will still need to find a master HVAC contractor to apprentice with in order to get licensed.
HVAC Programs in Kentucky
Kentucky is home to just two accredited HVAC programs at post-secondary institutions. These are accredited by HVAC Excellence. There are, however, other programs available that are not accredited but that may provide what you need to prepare for an apprenticeship. Additionally, there are several apprenticeship programs throughout the state—if you enroll in one of these you will not need to complete a certificate or degree program.
- South Central Kentucky Community and Technical College, Bowling Green. The HVAC Excellence accredited programs at the Bowling Green campus include several options for students. The school offers certificates in environmental system repair helper, environmental system repair, and domestic air conditioner and furnace installer. It also has a diploma program in HVAC and an associate’s degree in air conditioning technology.
- Sullivan College of Technology, Louisville. Sullivan Tech’s accredited programs include both a certificate and an associate’s degree in HVAC with refrigeration. These programs prepare students for entry-level work and apprenticeships and to pass the exams for refrigeration and safety certifications.
- Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Lexington. Although not accredited, Bluegrass does offer students several options for HVAC training. These include an associate’s degree in HVAC, a diploma in HVAC and certificates in environmental control system services or helper, domestic air conditioner and furnace installer and refrigeration mechanic.
An alternative to earning a degree or certificate to launch your HVAC career is to enroll directly in an apprenticeship program. Many are run by local plumbing, pipefitting and HVAC unions, like Local 502 in Louisville. This particular program offers apprentices 246 hours of classroom instruction and up to 2,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training. There are similar non-union programs, like the one offered by Associated Builders and Contractors, Indiana/Kentucky Chapter.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Kentucky
Kentucky’s Department of Housing, Buildings, and Construction is responsible for licensing HVAC apprentices, journeymen and contractors in the state. While training on the job, you must apply to be licensed as an apprentice. Apprentices must work under supervision of a contractor and under direct supervision of a contractor or journeyman.
With two years and 3,000 hours of work experience, you can apply to become a journeyman HVAC technician in the state. To become a licensed contractor or master HVAC worker, you must have worked as a journeyman for at least two years. Each level also requires passing an appropriate exam in order to get licensed. Any HVAC worker dealing with refrigerants must be certified through Environmental Protection Agency Section 608 certification. To become certified you have to pass an exam.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Careers in HVAC are on the rise everywhere, including in the state of Kentucky. Across the country, the growth in HVAC jobs is impressive at 15 percent. Thousands of new jobs will be available in the coming years for qualified and licensed technicians.
Salaries for HVAC workers reflect the degree of training required. In Kentucky, the average annual income, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $42,850.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Kentucky
Most HVAC technicians work for contractors or are contractors themselves, running their own small businesses. Other job opportunities are with government agencies, industrial companies and large commercial or construction companies. In Kentucky, you’ll find the most opportunities for work in the larger cities, including Louisville, Lexington and Bowling Green.
HVAC work can be a rewarding career, as you get to help people every day, making their living and work environments more comfortable. It’s also a stable career that offers a chance to earn a great living. Kentucky is a good place to get started for a future career in HVAC.