When it comes to choosing a career, the options can seem endless. One great option you may be considering is an HVAC technician.
Every day, more people are training to become HVAC technicians. The growing demand for HVAC technicians means that this is one of the most promising fields out there.
But whether or not you should go to school to become an HVAC technician is another question entirely. After all, training can be expensive and time-consuming.
Before you decide whether to attend HVAC school or not, here are some things you should consider first.
HVAC school & training options + costs
The first thing you should do when deciding whether to attend HVAC school is to look at your other options for training. You can receive HVAC training through a non-degree program, a trade school, apprenticeship, or pursue your Associate's degree:
- Non-degree training programs. It isn't necessary to get your associate's degree or attend trade school to become an HVAC technician, making non-degree training programs the cheapest and fastest option. Some programs are even free and help you get jobs. For example, Faraday's Online HVAC Training Program can be done completely online and is 100% employer-sponsored, meaning you pay nothing. Other programs cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.
- Trade school. If you're looking for a more hands-on experience but don't want to pay for a degree, attending trade school is a great option. Programs last anywhere from 6 to 24 months and cost $1,000 to $15,000.
- Associate's degree. If you prefer a more well-rounded education, obtaining your associate's degree from a community college may be best for you. These programs last 2 years and cost anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000.
- Apprenticeship. If you don't want to attend HVAC school, you can also jump straight into an apprenticeship. These last 3 to 5 years and you get paid to learn. The company that your apprenticeship is with is willing to train you in hopes that you will stay on full-time once you learn.
Factors to consider before deciding whether to go to HVAC school or not
Even if you decide that you want to attend HVAC school, there are some things you should consider before choosing one. These can help you decide which HVAC school to attend, as well as help you figure out if this is the right choice for you, in general.
Here are some of the most important factors to keep in mind when deciding whether to attend HVAC or not:
- Cost. As we just discussed, HVAC school can be expensive. Keep in mind that the costs may vary depending on the school you choose. You can find information about school costs by doing some research online. Make sure to look at the cost of tuition, books, and any other fees associated with the program.
- Time. How long will the program take? Some programs can last as little as six months, while others can last up to two years. Consider how long you want to go to school for, as well as how much time you are willing to dedicate to your education. In many cases, those who attend HVAC school have full-time jobs while they are in school which requires a lot of commitment.
- Location. Are there good options for HVAC schools near you or would you have to relocate? Alternatively, maybe you've been able to find a program online. Considering the location of the program is crucial for determining if it's right for you.
- Alternatives. Consider which other career paths interest you and what they require in terms of education and training. Is there another option that interests you just as much as HVAC but pays better and requires less education?
Pros of going to HVAC school
- Learn necessary skills. Going to HVAC school can help you improve your technical skills. You will learn about all the different components of an HVAC system and how they work together.
- Better employability. Attending HVAC school and obtaining HVAC certifications make you a much more attractive hire than someone with no experience.
- More job security. HVAC technicians already enjoy a low unemployment rate and a good job outlook, which means that you are less likely to lose your job in a slow economy. With all other things being equal, those who have more training are more likely to retain jobs than those who have none.
Cons of going to HVAC school
- Cost. As we have discussed, this is a major factor to consider. There is an upfront cost associated with going to HVAC school that can range from a thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. While HVAC technicians make decent salaries, this cost can be difficult to manage if you don't have the money saved up and may require you to go into student loan debt.
- Time. Many graduates are still expected to complete an HVAC apprenticeship. This means you may already be a year or two behind where you could have been if you didn't attend HVAC school and jumped straight into an apprenticeship.
How to become an HVAC technician without school
Even though HVAC school is one of the best ways to become an HVAC technician, it is not the only way. In fact, you can become an HVAC technician without even going to HVAC school.
Here are several ways to become an HVAC technician without attending HVAC school.
- Apprenticeship. If you don't have money to attend HVAC school or simply don't want to, you can become an apprentice. Most states require HVAC technicians to be licensed. To receive an HVAC license, you must have a certain number of hours of experience. You can get this experience as an apprentice. In most cases, you will work with a trained technician who will show you the ropes of installing and maintaining HVAC systems.
- Military experience. If you are in the military, you may be able to receive training in HVAC systems. This will depend on your job description. In many cases, military personnel who work as mechanics or technicians receive HVAC training.
Final thoughts on whether HVAC school is worth it
There is no correct answer to the question "is HVAC school worth it?". It all comes down to your personal situation and preferences.
If you want to learn about HVAC before jumping into a career or apprenticeship, attending HVAC school is a great option. Just be sure to compare the costs associated with each of the different training options.
If you would prefer to make money right away and start learning on the job, consider doing an HVAC apprenticeship instead of going to school.
Also, don't forget that Faraday's Online HVAC Training Program is completely free and can be done entirely online. We'll even help you find a job once you complete the program.