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]

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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

In Kentucky, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers earn an average annual wage of $48,080, which is slightly below the national average of $51,390. The wage distribution in the state ranges from the 10th percentile, earning $30,660, to the 90th percentile, earning $70,440. This wage information is also detailed for several regions within Kentucky, showing variations across the state.

National vs. Local Salaries (Annual)

Location Average Annual Wage
United States $51,390
Kentucky $48,080

Salaries and Percentiles by Region in Kentucky (Annual)

Region 10th Percentile Median 90th Percentile
Bowling Green, KY $30,530 $48,460 $65,830

HVAC Trends in Kentucky

In Kentucky, the employment for Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers is projected to grow by 5% from 2020 to 2030, from 6,190 to 6,470 employees. This reflects a steady but somewhat slower growth compared to the national average of 6%. Annually, around 620 job openings are expected in Kentucky, due to both new job creation and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation​ (O*NET OnLine)​.

Employement Trends

Location 2020 Employment 2030 Projected Employment Projected Growth Annual Job Openings
Kentucky 6,190 6,470 5% 620
United States 415,800 (2022) 438,800 (2032) 6% 37,700

Sources of data:

  • For employment trends and projections: Projections Central’s 2020-2030 long-term projections.
  • For national employment and wage data: The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2022-2032 employment projections.

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.

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How do I get my HVAC license in Kentucky?

To get your HVAC license in Kentucky, you will need to complete an apprenticeship or training program, pass a trade exam, and have at least 2 years of experience. You can find apprentice programs through technical schools, community colleges, or unions. Once you have completed an apprenticeship or training program, you will need to take a trade exam. The exam covers topics such as safety, refrigeration, and heating systems. After passing the trade exam, you will need to have at least 2 years of experience working in the field before you can apply for your HVAC license in Kentucky.

How much do HVAC technicians earn in the state of Kentucky?

In Kentucky, HVAC technicians earn an average salary of $42,850 per year. However, pay can range from $24,000 to $64,000 per year depending on experience and certification. Many HVAC technicians also receive benefits such as health insurance and paid vacation days.

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