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How to become a HVAC technician and take advantage of continuing education programs

HVAC issues are the kind of problems that make homeowners and renters alike say “Jesus take the wheel” a la early 2000’s Carrie Underwood and really, really mean it.

That’s part of the reason why the industry is set to grow at about double the average rate. There’s just more need for specialized HVAC technicians, everywhere from commercial to residential work, in small towns and big cities alike. In the next few years, the need for HVAC technicians is set to outstrip the workforce.

Industry Outlook

As of about 2015, the HVACR systems market was an $81.1 billion market. The market is expected to grow by 5.5 percent each year through 2020, leading to opportunity worth of $130.7 billion by that time, according to the News.

But according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the industry could see a talent shortage of over 138,000 employees by 2022. Contractors and businesses will have to try to fill positions left by those retiring, and industry growth will open needs for new positions as well.

HVACR is about to experience a boom, but they aren’t quite ready for it yet. That’s what makes HVAC and HVACR education so important right now.

How To Become a HVAC Technician

HVAC and HVACR programs are very popular at trade schools given the growth that the industry is set to experience. So popular, in fact, that every school on my Ten Best Trade Schools in the United States article has a comprehensive HVACR program. In some cases the HVACR program is the very reason that school made the list! These programs can consist of anywhere from a few months to two years of education depending on whether you go for a certificate or an associates degree.

Another option for breaking into the HVAC industry (and perhaps the more traditional method) is an apprenticeship. This is a great way to learn the skills while getting paid for it. If you know a business willing to take you on after high school, great! If you know you want an apprenticeship, but don’t have any leads, I listed a few options below to help point you in the right direction.

If you want to break into HVAC, find a local chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors. This organization sponsors craft training and apprenticeships in a variety of trades. Its formal apprenticeship programs are registered with the United States Department of Labor. Through their website, you can contact a local office and apply for an apprenticeship program in HVAC. They state that no previous education is required, but that some form of education might show dedication to learning the trade.

If you really want to start your HVAC career at a trade school, but don’t have the funds, look for schools that have scholarships that offer money for specific fields like HVAC. Always put as much research into your scholarship options as you did your school options, you can find a lot of help that way. You should also look into scholarships from private businesses in your desired industry or through your community.

At Smart Service, we offer a scholarship for anyone attending or planning to attend an accredited program in the skilled trades or a related field (basically any field service occupation) either full time or part time. Administered by the Delaware County Foundation, the Smart Service Scholarship Fund awards $2,000 once a year to students entering into skilled trades education and training programs. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but the deadline is September 1st so make sure to fill out an online application before we pick the winner!

Continuing Education for HVAC Technicians

Given the size of the looming talent shortage I mentioned earlier (about 138,000 by 2022) brand new technicians aren’t going to be able to completely fill the gap. Because older technicians set to retire in the next five years represent the primary cause of this gap, the industry will have a tremendous need for the knowledge and skills these individuals possess.

That’s why technicians looking to get more experience and knowledge are going to be so crucial. Supplementing your on-the-job experience with classroom work or training programs is a great way to set yourself apart. One way to do that is through certificates from universities and trade schools that offer majors in HVAC and HVACR. Most schools that offer a full degree for HVAC also offer shorter certificate programs for continuing education programs. Check out my list of Ten Best Trade Schools in the United States and you’ll see that a lot of them offer the programs that you’re looking for!

In some states, including Ohio, Kentucky, Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma, continuing education is part of the requirement for maintaining a state contractor’s license. The same places that allow you to renew certifications can offer other training programs for those looking to diversify their skill-sets. Websites like and local institutions like trade schools are a great place to start looking.

Those interested in going back to school are also eligible to receive our scholarship! Even if you’ve been in HVAC for years and are thinking of specializing in commercial HVAC or just getting a better knowledge base, Smart Service is happy to support people who chose to work in the field service industry. Just fill out our online application by September 1st to put yourself in the running for our $2,000 scholarship.


Continuing education and training is important in any job, but doubly so in HVAC, where technology is changing and the industry is set for a monumental growth swell. The key to continuing to innovate and thrive in this industry is education: both for those just starting out and even for technicians who are already certified.