How to Become an HVAC Technician in South Carolina
HVAC work can be physically demanding but also rewarding. As an HVAC technician, you’ll be responsible for maintaining, installing and fixing heating and cooling systems that keep people comfortable inside their homes and in commercial buildings. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in South Carolina
South Carolina only has statewide requirements for contractors. To become a technician, you can choose from a couple of options: complete an academic program, enroll in and complete an apprenticeship program or do a combination of both. Municipal licensing in South Carolina for journeymen HVAC techs requires two years of training, which can be either two years of an apprenticeship or one year of apprenticeship plus a two-year academic degree.
HVAC Programs in South Carolina
HVAC programs at technical or community colleges are accredited by the Partnership for Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) and by HVAC Excellence. You do not have to choose an accredited program, but these are guaranteed to provide a quality HVAC education.
- Central Carolina Technical College, Sumter. Central Carolina, which is accredited by HVAC Excellence, offers two certificate programs in HVAC. These include a basic air conditioning and heating certificate for 39 credit hours and an advanced air conditioning and heating certificate for just 22 credit hours. The advanced program is designed to be taken following the basic program for a more complete education.
- Greenville Technical College, Greenville. Also accredited by HVAC Excellence, Greenville’s program includes several options. Students can earn a diploma, certificate or a two-year Associate of Science degree.
- Fortis College, Columbia. Fortis has a campus in Columbia that offers a program for future HVAC technicians. The program includes plenty of hands-on laboratory training and prepares students to land entry-level positions in the industry.
Apprenticeship programs in South Carolina can also provide hands-on training, while some also include classroom hours. Check with local unions and non-union professional organizations to get connected with a master HVAC worker or contractor for an apprenticeship position.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in South Carolina
In South Carolina, you do not need to be licensed at the state level to work as an apprentice or HVAC technician. You will only need state licensing if you become a contractor. HVAC contractors in the state are regulated by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Contractor’s Licensing Board. To become a contractor you must pass an exam.
While the state government does not require licensing for journeymen or master HVAC technicians, you can become licensed through the Municipal Association of South Carolina. To become a journeyman, you must have two years of work experience and training, and one of those years can be substituted by a two-year degree. To become licensed as a master HVAC tech, you must first be a journeyman and have a total of four years of work experience. Both levels also require passing an exam. Not all cities require licensing, but if you get a license through the association you will be able to work anywhere in South Carolina
If your job will involve handling refrigerants, and many HVAC jobs do, you will need to become certified at the national level for refrigeration. The Clean Air Act requires that all refrigerant workers achieve Environmental Protection Agency Section 608 certification, which requires passing an exam.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
You can expect to see strong job growth in HVAC careers well into the future, which means good job stability. HVAC jobs are currently growing at a rate of 15 percent, thanks to new construction and economic growth as well as the evolving technology that requires HVAC systems to be upgraded often.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for HVAC techs in South Carolina is $42,110, so you will also make a good living in this career.
Working as an HVAC Technician in South Carolina
The majority of HVAC techs work for contractors. After a few years of experience as a technician, you may choose to become a contractor and small business owner. With that comes more responsibility but also greater flexibility and income.
For the most job opportunities as you start out in your HVAC career, look in the major population centers of the state: Columbia, Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Rock Hills and Greenville. With good job growth in this industry you should be able to find work anywhere as long as you have trained and gotten a good education.