How to Become an HVAC Technician in Maine
The career of an HVAC technician is a high paying one with a steady growth rate. HVAC technicians are skilled workers who install, troubleshoot and repair heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems in homes, office buildings and other commercial buildings. HVAC technicians must be able to read blueprints, especially when dealing with installation. They also keep up with heat loads and losses, make sure systems are up-to-date with all codes and regulations, and keep their clients informed on how to use their systems efficiently and when to upgrade their systems. HVAC workers are high in demand in all areas, but especially in states like Maine where heating systems are a necessity because of the frigid, snowy winters [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Maine
There are no specific requirements for becoming an HVAC technician in Maine. Since there are no statewide regulations regarding HVAC workers, it is left up to the employer to decide what requirements the employee must meet. Individual cities and counties may have different permitting conditions, so you will need to check those before you start looking for work. Some cities may require you to acquire an electrical permit to install wiring, while others may require building permits to install new systems. Anyone who handles refrigerants is required to hold EPA Section 608 certification.
There are no educational requirements to work as an HVAC technician in the state of Maine, but most employers will prefer to hire someone who has at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Enrolling in a post-secondary HVAC program or apprenticeship can provide you with the specialized knowledge and training that you need to succeed as an HVAC technician
HVAC Programs in Maine
The two traditional agencies responsible for accrediting HVAC programs are HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). Currently, Maine does not offer any programs that are accredited by either organization. However, they do offer a few non-accredited programs that will provide the training you need. Here are a few choices:
- Southern Maine Community College. Southern Maine Community College offers two Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree programs: Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration and Plumbing and Heating. The degree programs are a combination of general education and hands-on training. They can be completed in about two years. This school also offers certificate programs in Heating, Plumbing and Refrigeration and Air Conditioning. This program can be completed in approximately one year.
- Northeast Technical Institute. The Northeast Technical Institute offers a hands-on training HVAC/R program that can be taken full-time, or part-time through evening classes. If you take full-time classes, the program can be completed in 24 weeks (approximately six months). If you take part-time classes, the program can be completed in about 45 weeks or one year. Externships are available with this program.
You can also get the education and training you need to prepare you to work in the HVAC field through an apprenticeship. A great place to begin looking for available apprenticeships would be the State of Maine Department of Labor. You can also check for union and non-union programs in your area, as well as local job postings.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Maine
According to The Clean Air Act, anyone in the United States who works with or handles refrigerants must be certified to do so. This certification, known as EPA Section 608 certification, is attained through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There are four subcategories to this certification: Type 1 (small appliances), Type 2 (high-pressure appliances), Type 3 (low-pressure appliances) and Type 4 (universal, for all appliances).
Maine does not have a statewide license for HVAC technicians; however, different cities, counties and regions may have licensing or permitting requirements. Some areas may require you to have an electrical permit to install HVAC system wiring, or a limited electrician license to work in refrigeration. You can contact the Maine Electricians’ Licensing Board for further information. Educational and work experience may be required, and you will have to pass an exam for the limited electrician license. There may be other region-specific permits required, especially when installing new HVAC systems. You will need to inquire about local requirements before you begin working, not only if you are just starting out but also if you are going to be working in a different part of the state.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the HVAC field are growing at a national rate of 15 percent. There were 2,160 HVAC technicians at work in the state of Maine in 2016. That number is not predicted to change in the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026. But this does not mean that you should not consider becoming an HVAC technician in the state. Because HVAC systems will continually need updates and need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years, HVAC technicians will continue to be needed.
HVAC technicians in the state of Maine make a good living. According to BLS data, in May 2017 the average hourly wage of these workers was $23.65, and their average annual salary was $49,200. Based on their education and experience, some HVAC workers earn as much as $63,220 annually in the state.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Maine
Many HVAC technicians work for contractors. Some start off working for a contractor, then go on to get their own contracting license. You may also find work with construction companies.
In Maine, Portland is the highest paying city and employs many of the state’s HVAC workers. Another high employment area for HVAC workers in the state is the Southwest Maine nonmetropolitan area. Lewiston is another high paying city to consider.
Working in the HVAC field can be rewarding, both financially and in the sense that you will help make people’s living and work environments more comfortable on a daily basis. It is also a stable job with a high growth rate. If you are considering working as an HVAC technician, Maine is a great state to work in.