Heating, refrigeration and air-conditioning technicians are required to complete HVAC courses and on the job training for most employers. In addition, they are required to pass a certification exam in order to become licensed, though the requirements for certification vary by state or locality. The actual certification exams vary by location as well, with some areas focusing on the knowledge of electrical codes and others geared more toward specific HVAC knowledge. Most certifications also require the completion of an apprenticeship program and up to five years of experience in the field.

An additional certification is typically required for technicians who plan to work with refrigerants. Technicians in this field must pass a written examination on the specific aspects of this specialization.

There are three certification types for HVAC technicians who plan to specialize in refrigeration. The first certification (Type I) is for the servicing of small appliances. Type II is required for those working with high-pressure refrigerants, and Type III technicians are certified in low-pressure refrigerants. The examinations for these certifications are administered by organizations, which have been approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Typically, theses organizations include contractor associations, building groups, unions, and trade schools.

Many students interested heating, refrigeration, and air-conditioning opt for HVAC online training in order to prepare them for their career and for the certification exams. HVAC classes can easily be taken online, and once the courses have been completed the student can begin searching for an employer to fulfill the apprenticeship requirement.

Typically, a student who chooses to take HVAC courses and earn certification will have a background in or take classes in shop math, mechanical drawing, electronics, blueprint reading, chemistry and computer applications throughout high school. These courses provide a good learning base for entering into the HVAC field.

During the course of study for HVAC, students may be required to take a number of different exams in order to measure their skills. For students who have completed the HVAC coursework, but have less than one year of experience in the field, there is a series of exams available to test their basic competence in areas such as residential heating and cooling, commercial refrigeration, and light commercial cooling and heating. These are entry-level certification exams and are most commonly administered to technicians at postsecondary and secondary schools.

Technicians who have at least one year of HVAC experience in installation and two years of experience in repair and maintenance are offered a number of exams to certify their skills in working with different types of equipment.

Although certification is not required for advancement in the field of HVAC, most employers prefer that technicians acquire certification in the field or specialty in which they are working. With the growing need for HVAC technicians, those entering the field are much more likely to find employment and career advancement with one or more certification.

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