How to Become an HVAC Technician in Michigan
HVAC technicians are skilled professionals who install, maintain and fix heating, ventilation and cooling systems in residential, commercial and industrial buildings.HVAC tech duties include installing systems, components and wiring, cleaning HVAC systems, making inspections, diagnosing and fixing problems, and communicating with and educating customers. Working in HVAC in Michigan is a great career option for people looking for a stable job and a good income. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Michigan
To work fully as an HVAC tech in Michigan you must be licensed through the state. Eligibility for licensing includes three years of work experience, but there are no specific education or apprenticeship requirements. To get that work experience, you may choose to begin as an entry-level assistant with an experienced HVAC technician or apply for an apprenticeship.
The state does not require any post-secondary education for HVAC workers, but employers may. A good way to start a career in HVAC is to earn a diploma, certificate or two-year degree from a community college or technical school. These programs will teach you the fundamentals of heating, cooling, ventilation and refrigerants. They will teach how to use the tools of the trade and how to clean, install, inspect and maintain HVAC systems. This does not, however, replace hands-on training, which you will need to get after or during coursework.
HVAC Programs in Michigan
HVAC training programs are accredited by HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). You do not have to attend an accredited school, but it is an advantage in that it provides potential employers with proof that you have learned according to industry standards and have received a high-quality education.
- Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor. Three programs offered here are accredited by HVAC Excellence. Students can choose between an associate’s degree and certificate programs in residential or commercial HVAC. They include hands-on training with tools provided and prepare graduates to work as apprentices.
- Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids. PAHRA accredits these degree and certificate programs. They both prepare students for apprenticeship positions and include hands-on as well as classroom learning.
- Northwestern Technological Institute, Southfield. Northwestern offers students a program in HVAC that takes about 10 months to complete. It has an employment rate of 93 percent for graduates.
- Lansing Community College, Lansing. Lansing has several HVAC programs, including a heating and air conditioning certificate or associate’s degree, and a degree in HVAC/R energy management engineering technology.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Michigan
HVAC techs in Michigan are licensed through the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. You can work as an apprentice or assistant before becoming licensed, but in order to perform installations and repairs and secure permits you need to have a mechanical contractor license. To become licensed, you have to submit an application with a $300 license fee. You also must prove you have three years of work experience in HVAC and get a passing score on the state’s required exam.
Federal regulations additionally require that all HVAC technicians and other workers who will be handling refrigerants be specially certified. The Environmental Protection Agency Section 608 certification is required under the Clean Air Act. To get certified you have to pass a test.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Job growth in HVAC is positive and strong throughout the country, including in the state of Michigan. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC careers are growing at a rate of 15 percent, which is much faster than average.
The salaries for HVAC professionals are also strong. In Michigan in 2017, the average annual earnings for HVAC techs was $49,350, which is higher than the national average.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Michigan
Heating, cooling and ventilation are important everywhere, but nowhere more so than in places where the weather and temperature change drastically. HVAC technicians will always be needed in Michigan, and they are often employed by HVAC contractors. Many workers in this field are self-employed and may be small business owners. Other employers include schools, government agencies, and retail and wholesale companies. While HVAC techs are needed throughout the state, you’ll find the most opportunities in the Detroit metropolitan area.
A career in HVAC is a smart choice for any high school graduate who enjoys working with their hands and earning a good living. Skilled trade careers are growing, and HVAC techs will continue to be in demand for years to come, in Michigan and elsewhere.