How to Become an HVAC Technician in Nebraska
Working as an HVAC technician in Nebraska is a great career choice for new high school graduates and older workers looking for a change. This career is growing rapidly throughout the country, and new jobs are becoming available all the time. The pay is good because this is a skilled trade. To become an HVAC tech in Nebraska, you will need to train with a journeyman or master technician. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Nebraska
The state of Nebraska has set no specific requirements for learning to work in HVAC. However, you will need to check with each city or county you may want to work in, to see if there are any requirements for certification and licensing. Generally, if you choose a post-secondary HVAC program to complete, enroll in an apprenticeship program or begin some combination of these two options, you will be prepared to meet the requirements anywhere in the state.
HVAC Programs in Nebraska
HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation accredit post-secondary academic programs in HVAC technology. Unfortunately, Nebraska does not have any accredited programs, but there are other good options:
- Metropolitan Community College, Omaha. Students in Omaha can complete an associate’s degree or certificate program at Metropolitan in HVAC and refrigeration. These programs prepare students to begin working and earning as apprentices. The school also offers career certificates in heat pumps, heat systems, air conditioning and refrigeration.
- Central Community College, Grand Island. Options at Central include an associate’s degree in HVAC and refrigeration, a diploma in HVAC and refrigeration, and a certificate in basic refrigeration. Total tuition costs for the degree program for Nebraska residents is currently $6,200.
- Southwest Community College, Milford. At Southeast Community College students can complete an 18-month associate’s degree program that includes refrigeration as well as HVAC. Graduates are prepared to begin working in the industry in an entry-level or apprentice role.
An alternative to enrolling in a community college program is to find a registered apprenticeship position through Nebraska’s Department of Labor. The department will help you find a position with a union or non-union organization. In an apprenticeship, you will train on the job and earn a salary while also taking classes.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Nebraska
If you plan to work as an HVAC technician in Nebraska, you won’t need to register with the state until you become a contractor and hire employees. HVAC contractors have to apply to the Department of Labor and show proof of having purchased worker’s compensation insurance for each employee.
Certain cities in Nebraska may have additional requirements for licensing or registration of HVAC workers. Lincoln, for example, licenses HVAC technicians at the apprentice, journeyman and master levels. To register as an apprentice, you must have a master technician sponsor you. To become a journeyman or master contractor HVAC worker, you have to apply through Lincoln’s Building and Safety department, submit a fee and pass the appropriate exam.
Omaha is another city that licenses air conditioner workers through its Planning Department. Applicants are required to score at least 75 percent on exams appropriate to their license level. Options include: apprentice, journeyman, contractor, commercial or residential air conditioning, and sheet metal. Licensing requires certain numbers of hours of work experience, some of which can be substituted with classroom hours.
If you will be working with refrigerants, regardless of the level of your licensing or registration, you will need to be Environmental Protection Agency Section 608 certified. The Clean Air Act requires that any refrigerant worker anywhere in the U.S. pass an exam to become certified before handling these materials.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Growth is very strong for HVAC careers right now. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field are growing at 15 percent, and that is much faster than average growth across all jobs in the United States. This growth means that careers in HVAC are stable and should be for years to come.
Another benefit of getting into the industry is that salaries are also strong. In Nebraska in 2017, the national average income for an HVAC worker was $47,120. There is always a potential to earn more than this with experience, specialties and other factors.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Nebraska
HVAC work is physically demanding and can be dangerous if you don’t follow safety guidelines and wear the correct gear. It can also be rewarding, though, and challenging on a daily basis.
Most workers are employed by HVAC contractors, but you should be able to find other opportunities, such as in industrial settings or with government and public agencies. In Nebraska, look for the most positions in and around the bigger cities of Omaha, Lincoln, Bellevue and Grand Island.