How to Become an HVAC Technician in Utah
Utah is home to many mountains and valleys, causing varying temperatures and weather conditions from season to season. Therefore, the residents of the state depend upon heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems all year to provide a comfortable home or work environment. The proficient trade workers who install and service these systems are called HVAC technicians. HVAC technicians may work in homes, factories, hospitals, office buildings, restaurants, schools or any building that relies on climate control. They may install new systems, remove older ones and diagnose and repair problems on systems that aren’t working properly. HVAC technicians must be familiar with all components of HVAC systems and how they function. They must also be able to read blueprints and be familiar with all local and federal codes and regulations regarding HVAC systems. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Utah
HVAC certification, licensing and permitting varies by state. In Utah, a contractor’s license is required to assemble and install complete systems and to work on jobs that total more than $1,000 in value. This license can be obtained through Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. A license is not required for any work less than $1,000 or to service systems, and HVAC technicians may work on complete systems if that work is done under the supervision of a licensed contractor.
HVAC workers in Utah must also take the certification exam given by the Rocky Mountain Gas Association if they will be working on gas appliances. National certification from the Environmental Protection Agency is also required for any HVAC worker who plans to handle refrigerants, no matter their license status.
HVAC Apprenticeships and Educational Programs in Utah
HVAC systems are constantly evolving and becoming more complex. This career can also be dangerous if you don’t follow proper safety guidelines and aren’t up-to-date on your knowledge of HVAC systems and their components. These are good reasons for HVAC technicians to complete post-secondary and/or on-the-job training. There are two ways to train to become an HVAC technician: through the completion of an apprenticeship program or an HVAC certificate or degree program at an accredited school.
Apprenticeship programs combine classroom instruction with paid, on-the-job training. These programs typically last three to five years. There are plenty of choices for apprenticeship programs in Utah.
- The Utah Career Center has a five-year apprentice program sponsored by the Utah Mechanical Contractors Association. This program consists of 1,800 hours of on-the-job training per year from a certified journeyman. Students also attend classes three nights a week for the duration of this program. When they have completed the program, they will receive a journeyman certificate.
- Salt Lake Community College provides apprentices with the educational courses for their apprenticeship, while they are responsible for finding their own work sponsor (employer). This is a four-year program in which students will complete a minimum of 576 classroom hours and 8,000 work hours. This program prepares students to take the EPA Section 608 certification exam and the Rocky Mountain Gas Association (RMGA) exam.
- Mountainland Technical College also offers an apprenticeship program in which you can enroll in the educational courses but find your own sponsor. The program consists of 360 classroom hours and can be completed in about two years. Upon completion, students will receive an HVAC apprenticeship program certificate and be prepared to take the exams for both the EPA certification and the RMGA.
When looking for an educational program, many aspiring HVAC technicians choose to take training programs that are accredited. The two main organizations who accredit HVAC schools are HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). At this time, Utah does not have any programs that are accredited by either of these organizations. However, there are a couple of programs in Utah that have been accredited by the Council on Occupation Education, which has also been authorized by the U.S. Department of Education to provide accreditation to schools. They are:
- Davis Applied Technology College. Davis Applied Technology College offers an HVAC certificate program that is taken through night classes and can be completed in two years. This program also prepares students to sit for the EPA Section 608 and RMGA certification exams.
- Fortis College. Fortis College has campuses across the United States, including one in Salt Lake City. This program prepares students for entry-level work as an HVAC technician.
Certification and Licensing for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Utah
It is important to remember that if you are working for a licensed HVAC contractor or on jobs that total less than $1,000, a Utah contractor’s license is not necessary. There may also be county or regional permits within the state, so you should check that before you begin working. The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing in Salt Lake City regulates the contractors’ licenses for the state. Those applying for this license must pay an application fee, provide proof of liability and workers compensation insurance and take the required exams. You will also have to pay exam fees. This license must be renewed every two years, and six hours of continued education must be taken prior to renewal.
Furthermore, there are two specific certifications HVAC workers in the state must hold if they are planning to work on gas appliances and refrigerants. Within the state, anyone who performs work on gas appliances must pass the exam administered by the Rocky Mountain Gas Association. Anyone handling refrigerants, regardless of the state they work in, is required to pass the exam to gain Section 608 Certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Most accredited training programs and apprenticeship programs in Utah prepare HVAC technicians to take these exams.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
The job growth rate is high across the United States for HVAC technicians, and especially in Utah. Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) indicated that there were 3,550 HVAC workers in the state in 2016. By 2026, it is predicted that there will be 5,050 HVAC techs in Utah, which is an impressive 42 percent increase.
The salary for HVAC workers in Utah is good as well. The most current data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that HVAC technicians in the state make an average of $24.18 hourly and $51,600 annually. Those starting off as apprentices will probably make about half of the average, but with time and experience they will likely earn much more. The most experienced HVAC workers in the state make as much as $75,790 annually.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Utah
The steadily growing population and variant temperatures make Utah an ideal place to work as an HVAC technician. You can expect to work for a contractor until you get your own contractor license. You may work for an independent contractor who only employs a few people or for a larger contracting company. Salt Lake City employs almost half of the HVAC professionals in the state, and it is also the highest paying city. Other places in the state to consider working are Clearfield, Ogden, Orem and Provo. If you are interested in a job that pays well and offers steady work, working as an HVAC technician in Utah is a smart career move.