How to Become an HVAC Technician in Rhode Island
To become an HVAC technician in Rhode Island, you must be prepared to take classes and train on the job. A few years of working as an apprentice will lead to an exciting and rewarding career working on heating, ventilation and refrigeration and air conditioning systems. In Rhode Island, there are licensing requirements, but with the right training these are not difficult to meet. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, you need to complete an apprenticeship with a certain number of hands-on training hours in order to become a licensed HVAC tech. You also need to meet the required number of hours of classroom learning. There are multiple ways to meet these state requirements, though. You can go through a college program to meet the classroom requirement, as well as some of the training hours. You can also choose to complete an apprenticeship program with classroom instruction.
HVAC Programs in Rhode Island
Academic HVAC programs are accredited by the Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and HVAC Excellence. Rhode Island does not have any programs that are accredited, but there are several available that are considered acceptable by the state agency responsible for licensing.
- NETTS, Pawtucket. The Pawtucket campus of NETTS offers students an HVAC and refrigeration program that is focused on hands-on learning. Graduates are prepared to work in the industry and will have 4,000 hours to apply to licensing as well as federal certification for working with refrigerants.
- New England Institute of Technology, East Greenwich. This two-year program culminates in an Associate in Science degree. Graduates are prepared to begin working in entry-level positions and are ready to pass several certification exams.
- MTTI, East Providence. At MTTI’s satellite campus in East Providence, students can learn and train for careers in HVAC. The program is 900 hours and takes about 30 weeks to complete, with both day and evening class times available. Graduates are ready for employment and to work toward licensing with additional on-the-job training.
Rhode Island requires that HVAC techs learn in the classroom and on the job, which means finding an apprenticeship is also necessary. Apprenticeships are generally available through local unions, like the UA Local 51 in East Providence, and through non-union groups like Associated Builders and Contractors of Rhode Island. You can also contact the state’s Department of Labor and Training to find a registered apprenticeship program.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Rhode Island
Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training licenses journeymen and master HVAC technicians, as well as contractors. Journeyman licensing includes limited and unlimited options. A limited license requires 4,000 hours of work training and 288 classroom hours. The unlimited license requires that you complete 10,000 hours of training and at least 144 hours of classroom learning. Up to two years of an academic program can replace some of the 10,000 hours.
Master licensing also includes limited and unlimited options. To qualify for the limited license you must have had a journeyman’s limited license for at least three years. For an unlimited master license you need to have worked as an unlimited journeyman or a limited master for one year or more. To get these licenses you also must pass an appropriate exam.
All refrigeration workers must also be certified through the Environmental Protection Agency Section 608 program. This is required for all workers who handle refrigerants, according to the Clean Air Act, a federal law.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
The career outlook for HVAC workers around the country is positive right now. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth is currently 15 percent. This means you will enjoy good job stability if you meet the requirements for working as an HVAC technician. You’ll also earn a good salary. The average salary in 2017 for HVAC techs in Rhode Island was $52,640 per year and $25.31 per hour, higher than the national average.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Rhode Island
HVAC technicians work with their hands and often in uncomfortable positions. This can be physically demanding work, although it is most often done indoors. Most HVAC techs work for contractors, but there are a few other types of potential employers, like industrial companies, large construction or development companies and government agencies.
In Rhode Island, you should be able to find many great opportunities to start working once you meet the requirements. Most job openings will be in the bigger cities of Providence, Warwick, Cranston and Pawtucket. With the right training, you’ll be working in this field anywhere in the state in no time.