How to Become an HVAC Technician in Oregon

HVAC technicians are the skilled trade workers that install, maintain and repair ventilation, air conditioning and heating systems in homes and commercial buildings. To become an HVAC worker in Oregon, you need to take courses to learn the foundational knowledge of HVAC systems and work as an apprentice to get on-the-job training for a few years. There are multiple paths you can choose to take to become licensed in the state, but all can result in a great career with a stable and good income. [Leer en español]

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Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Oregon

Oregon requires that HVAC technicians have a license through the state. To be eligible for a license, and therefore to begin working and earning in HVAC, you have to take classes and receive hands-on training. The state does not outline exactly how you have to meet these requirements. You can choose to complete a certificate or degree program at a community college, for instance, and then train with a contractor. Alternatively, you can skip college and enroll directly in an apprenticeship program that includes both hands-on training and coursework.

HVAC Schools in Oregon

Oregon has no HVAC training programs that are accredited by HVAC Excellence or the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation. These are the standard accrediting agencies, but Oregon is home to several non-accredited programs that can help you meet your goal of becoming an HVAC technician:

  • Portland Community College, Portland. Portland offers a Facilities Maintenance Technician degree, which teaches students how to work on HVAC systems and refrigeration. The school also has a certificate program in the same subject, which takes less time to complete, and a certificate for installing HVAC and refrigeration systems. Any of these programs can be followed by apprenticeship training for a career in HVAC.
  • Chemeketa Community College, Salem. Students at Chemeketa can choose to complete a program that provides on-campus classes as well as an apprenticeship through the Mid-Valley HVAC/R JAT Committee, a local union training committee. This program provides everything needed to be licensed upon completion.
  • Lane Community College, Eugene. This program also prepares students to become licensed HVAC workers when complete. Lane offers classes on campus and an apprenticeship with a local contractor.

Another way to get the classroom hours and on-the-job work experience needed to work in HVAC is to find an apprenticeship through unions and non-union organizations throughout the state. Oregon’s Apprenticeship and Training Division lists the apprenticeship committees that offer HVAC programs. Requirements for all of these programs are that you are 18 years of age when training begins, that you have a high school diploma or GED, and a C grade or better in one year of algebra.

Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Oregon

Licensing of HVAC technicians and contractors in Oregon is conducted through the Construction Contractors Board. There are two levels of licensing. The first is the Limited Maintenance Specialty Contractor license. This is for any qualified HVAC worker who has completed the appropriate hours of classroom time and at least 8,000 hours of work experience. There is no test to pass, only a fee and application to complete to get licensed.

The next level is the contractor license, which allows you to hire other HVAC workers. Getting this license requires passing an exam and also taking an additional 16 hours of coursework related to construction contracting. You will also need to have liability insurance and workers’ compensation for any employees.

Most HVAC programs in Oregon include training in refrigeration. To work with refrigerants, you must be licensed through the Environmental Protection Agency. Called section 608 certification, this license requires passing an exam.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

In Oregon, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers have an average annual wage of $61,480, significantly higher than the national average. The lower and upper wage percentiles in the state show a wide salary range, highlighting the varied earning potential within this occupation.

National vs. Local Salaries (Annual)

Location Average Annual Wage
United States $51,390
Oregon $61,480

Oregon Salary Percentiles (Annual)

Percentile Annual Low (10%) Annual High (90%)
Oregon $39,790 $83,710

HVAC Trends in Oregon

In Oregon, the employment for Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers is projected to grow by 11% from 2020 to 2030, increasing from 3,590 to 3,990 employees. This growth rate is accompanied by an estimate of 360 annual job openings within the state due to both new positions and replacements.

Employement Trends

Location 2020 Employment 2030 Projected Employment Projected Growth Annual Job Openings
Oregon 3,590 3,990 11% 360
United States 415,800 (2022) 438,800 (2032) 6% 37,700

Sources of data:

  • For employment trends and projections: Projections Central’s 2020-2030 long-term projections.
  • For national employment and wage data: The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2022-2032 employment projections.

Working as an HVAC Technician in Oregon

The working environment for HVAC techs can be pretty physically demanding and even dangerous. There are risks for accidents and injuries, but these are minimal if you know and follow safety guidelines.

Most HVAC technicians work for building or HVAC contractors, but some may be hired by government or public agencies or private companies. In Oregon, your greatest opportunities for employment will be in Portland, Salem and Eugene, but jobs are available throughout the state.

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Get information on HVACR Certified Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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