How to Become an HVAC Technician in New Hampshire
HVAC technicians are skilled professionals who are responsible for the installation, repair and upkeep of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems in commercial, industrial and residential areas. Other responsibilities of HVAC technicians include recording heat loads and losses, repairing the components of HVAC systems (wiring, pumps, valves, fans), sketching and reading blueprints and educating clients on energy efficiency. Because temperatures often drop below freezing in the winter, New Hampshire is a prime location for HVAC technicians to seek work [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in New Hampshire
HVAC technicians are not required to hold statewide certification or licensure to work in the state of New Hampshire. There is a voluntary certification for oil heating technicians available through the New Hampshire Department of Safety. Also, federal EPA Section 608 certification is mandatory for anyone who works with refrigerants, whether they hold any other certification or not.
Most employers will require their employees to have a high school diploma or GED, but there are no other educational requirements to work as an HVAC technician in the state. However, the best way to prepare for career in the HVAC field is through a combination of education and training. This can be achieved by either completing an apprenticeship under the supervision of a licensed HVAC contractor, or by completing a post-secondary educational program.
HVAC Apprenticeships and Educational Programs in New Hampshire
Working as an apprentice under an HVAC journeyman or licensed contractor is a way to gain educational training as well as work experience, all while getting paid. The New Hampshire Department of Education supports adult education and offers electrical, plumbing and machining apprenticeship programs. You can also find apprenticeships by checking local job listings and contacting contractors and contracting companies in your area.
There are two agencies responsible for the accreditation of HVAC schools: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). New Hampshire currently does not have any colleges or universities that offer accredited HVAC programs, but there are several schools in the state that offer HVAC training programs.
- Manchester Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program in HVAC. This program can be completed in two to three years, depending on how many credit hours you take per semester. Manchester also offers the following certificate programs: Advanced HVAC, Air Conditioning/Refrigeration and Heating Services. The certificate programs can be completed within two years, and all classes count toward the degree program.
- New Hampshire School of Mechanical Trades in Manchester offers the following certificate programs: Air Conditioning Technician, Refrigeration Technician and Oil Heat Technician. You can also take a combination of the courses. The EPA exam is included in the AC Tech certificate program for an additional fee. All programs are 120 hours long. Taking a combination of the courses does take longer.
- The Granite State Trade School, located in Raymond, offers an online HVAC course as well as a certificate program that can be taken two nights a week over four semesters. This program consists of 300 educational hours. It is also one of the lowest priced two-year programs in the country.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in New Hampshire
All HVAC technicians who will be handling and working with refrigerants must take the exam to obtain EPA section 608 certification. This certification is mandatory, regardless of the city or state you live in or what level of education or experience you have. There are four different categories in which you can test for this certification: small appliances, high-pressure appliances, low-pressure appliances and universal (which applies to all appliances).
Additionally, you can get the voluntary certification offered by the NH Department of Safety. To get this certification, you must fill out an application, pay a fee, have at least 4,000 hours (two years) of work experience and have certification through either the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) or North American Technician Excellence (NATE). Once you hold this certification, you must renew every two years and complete six hours of code update.
There are three levels of NORA certification: Bronze, Silver and Gold. A minimum of 80 hours of classroom instruction and a certification exam are required for Bronze certification. To upgrade to silver, you must complete 20 hours of continued education and have three years work experience as well as pass the exam. To achieve gold certification, you must have five years work experience and silver certification. You must also complete four advanced training modules.
Technicians must have at least two years work experience and pass the NATE exam and a specialty exam to obtain NATE certification. There may also be other local or regional specific certifications, permits or registration within the state. HVAC technicians should check on these prior to beginning work or working in a new area of the state.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
The number of HVAC workers in the state of New Hampshire is expected to grow by 8.7 percent by the year 2026. There were 2,020 HVAC workers in the state in 2016, and with the predicted growth rate there should be 2,200 workers in the field by 2026.
The national average salary of an HVAC technician is $49,530 per year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), New Hampshire HVAC technicians were making an hourly average of $24.26 and an annual average of $50,470 in 2017. The highest earners in the state were making a yearly average of $76,080.
Working as an HVAC Technician in New Hampshire
HVAC systems generally require replacement every 10 to 15 years. Additionally, they need system checks annually, sometimes seasonally. And then troubleshooting and repairs will be needed on occasion. Therefore, there will always be a need for workers in this field.
HVAC technicians usually work for HVAC contractors, whether it be an independent contractor or a larger contracting company. Many HVAC technicians go on to be contractors themselves and run their own businesses.
In New Hampshire, you can expect to find the most job opportunities in the cities of Manchester and Portsmouth. Portsmouth is also one of the highest paying regions for HVAC technicians in the state, along with the southwest nonmetropolitan area of New Hampshire.