How to Become an HVAC Technician in Missouri
As an HVAC technician in Missouri, you can expect to earn a good living and enjoy great job security while doing work that is challenging, useful and different every day. This is a career that involves a skilled trade, so expect to do some classroom learning and training on the job in an apprentice role before you can become an independent worker. The few years you put into that education and training will be well worth it in the end, as you become a successful HVAC technician. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Missouri
Missouri is one of a few states that do not require HVAC technicians or contractors to be licensed. The requirements for becoming an HVAC worker, if there are any, are determined by cities and counties. It may be useful to check with the area in which you hope to work before beginning your journey to become an HVAC tech, but in general the best way to start out is to enroll in either a post-secondary academic HVAC program or an apprenticeship.
HVAC Programs in Missouri
Post-secondary HVAC programs are accredited by the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. You can rely on these programs to provide you with the education needed to start an HVAC career:
- Hillyard Technical Center, St. Joseph. Hillyard offers a program for high school students. It takes two years to complete and offers young people a way to get a jumpstart on this career and to be ready for an apprenticeship position.
- State Technical College of Missouri, Linn. State Tech’s accredited HVAC program combines classroom learning with hands-on training. It also includes an internship to really prepare graduates to begin working.
- Jefferson College, Hillsboro. The HVAC and refrigeration program at Jefferson is a two-year associate’s degree program. It prepares students to begin working in entry-level and apprenticeship positions.
An alternative to starting with a post-secondary degree is to enroll in an apprenticeship program that provides both classroom learning and work experience. The Missouri Division of Workforce Development can connect you with an apprenticeship position in the state.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Missouri
There is no statewide licensing or certification for HVAC workers in Missouri, but many cities and counties do require licensing. One example is St. Louis County, which requires licensing for mechanical workers, including those in the HVAC profession. The Department of Public Works licenses apprentices, journeymen and mechanical contractors. To be an apprentice you must be enrolled in an appropriate program. To qualify for a journeyman license requires 7,500 hours of combined classroom and work experience and a passing journeyman exam score.
The city of Springfield also requires that mechanical workers be licensed. Journeyman and master contractors must be licensed, but apprentice licensing is not required. Many other local governments in Missouri license only contractors and business owners.
All HVAC workers in the state who handle refrigerants must be additionally certified. The federal Clean Air Act requires that these workers pass an exam to achieve Environmental Protection Agency section 608 certification.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
The outlook for careers in HVAC is very strong.Growth in jobs is 15 percent, much faster than average job growth. This rate applies to the entire country, but growth is also locally strong, and you can expect to find many great opportunities for HVAC jobs throughout Missouri in the coming years.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that HVAC workers in the state earned an average of $46,930 per year and $22.56 per hour in 2017, rates close to the national average for this career.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Missouri
HVAC technicians usually work for HVAC or construction contractors. There may also be some opportunities to work for different types of companies or government agencies, and with a few years of experience on the job you can become a contractor and hire other techs.
The greatest job opportunities in Missouri are in and around the bigger cities, including Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Columbia and Independence. Regardless of where you hope to work, though, just a few years of training and learning are all you need to work in this exciting skilled trade.