How to Become an HVAC Technician in Massachusetts
A career in HVAC in Massachusetts can be a great choice for any new high school graduate or anyone looking for a career change. HVAC technicians work with heating, air conditioning and ventilation, doing installations and making repairs. They may also work with refrigerants, which requires special licensing in Massachusetts. Salaries and job growth are both strong in the state, so with just a few years of education and training you can expect stability and a great income in a career as an HVAC technician. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Massachusetts
HVAC technicians in Massachusetts typically have taken one of two paths to working in the field: earning a diploma or degree in HVAC technology or completing a union or non-union apprenticeship program. There are no requirements set out by the state for how you have to learn and train to work in HVAC.
But, if you hope to work in refrigeration, which many HVAC techs do, you will have to pass a test and get a license from the state. To be ready for refrigeration licensing you will need to be sure that it is a topic covered in your post-secondary program or apprenticeship.
HVAC Programs in Massachusetts
There are several choices for post-secondary programs in HVAC and refrigeration. These kinds of programs are accredited by the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. Massachusetts does not have any accredited post-secondary programs, but there are two PAHRA-accredited high school programs and plenty of non-accredited options for adult students
- Cape Cod Regional Technical High School and Shawsheen Valley Technical High School. These two tech high schools offer students accredited programs to train for a career in HVAC. Some colleges in the state will accept credits from these programs so that young graduates can apply them toward a degree.
- New England Institute of HVAC, Lowell. This school is one that is approved by the state of Massachusetts for refrigeration training. The program offers flexible class schedules, hands-on training, and it prepares students for refrigeration licensing through the state and the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Branford Hall Career Institute, Springfield. Also approved by the state for refrigeration training, Branford offers students comprehensive training in HVAC and working with refrigerants. Students are prepared for certification and licensing after graduating from this hands-on program.
- Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, Boston. This certificate program is approved by the state for refrigeration and offers students a complete education in both HVAC and refrigerants. Most students can complete the program in less than a year.
Both local unions and non-union organizations offer HVAC and refrigeration apprenticeships in Massachusetts. The state requires that apprenticeship programs include 8,000 hours of work experience, which is about four years. These hours are divided between required subjects, like air conditioning, service methods and installation. The state also requires that these programs include 150 hours per year of classroom work.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Massachusetts
HVAC workers in Massachusetts who do not work with refrigerants do not need to be licensed. However, having refrigerants on your skill list will make finding work much easier. The state’s Department of Public Safety licenses refrigeration apprentices, technicians and contractors.Environmental Protection Agency Section 608 certification is also required for refrigeration workers and can be achieved by passing an exam.
To be licensed as a refrigeration apprentice, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. To become a technician, you need a combination of classroom and training hours and a passing score on an appropriate exam. After holding the technician license for two years, you may qualify to become licensed as a refrigeration contractor, which also requires passing an additional exam and having 100 hours of continuing education.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
HVAC technicians can look forward to growth in the industry and thousands of new available jobs. The growth in the available jobs is 15 percent, much faster than average job growth across the country.
HVAC and refrigeration techs in Massachusetts earn more than their peers in other states. The average annual salary in the state is $59,100, as compared to the national average of $47,080, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Massachusetts
HVAC technicians usually work for contractors, so you can expect to get your first job with a contracting company. From there, you can work your way toward becoming a contractor and owning a small business if you choose that path.
The work of an HVAC tech can be dangerous, as accidents and injuries are not uncommon. However, following safety guidelines and wearing safety gear reduces the risks significantly.
There will be many opportunities for qualified HVAC techs across Massachusetts in coming years. Look for the greatest number of job openings in big population centers around Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Lowell. With academic courses and a few years of paid training, you can land a great job as an HVAC worker in Massachusetts.