I get inquiries on a regular basis from people who are interested in “getting into the business” as they say, and they’re looking for training on how to perform the electrical troubleshooting and refrigeration system servicing tasks required of a technician who services air conditioning equipment. Their profile, pretty much exclusively male, varies somewhat when it comes to background, and experience, and age.
“I’ve been an electrician (or carpenter, or plumber, or another trade of choice) for years, and I’ve been thinking about getting into the A/C business”, is one profile, while there are others who are younger,currently in fast food, retail, truck driving, or something else totally unrelated to a trade or craft.
Regardless of their age and background, they are usually calling because they’ve been doing an on-line search for something like “air conditioning training” or “air conditioning school”, or maybe even “air conditioning training videos” because they’ve already made the decision not to go to a trade school or community college for their training, but instead want to learn on their own at home.
And, also regardless of their profile, they often have other questions beyond the technical side of the HVAC, or HVACR if you prefer, business. Questions (and often some false assumptions about) licensing and/or certifications required for employment, or for becoming independently employed in HVAC repair and service are common. And in some cases, we even get questions about whether or not the HVACR business is a good business to get into, employment-wise as far as avoiding seasonal layoffs, or business-wise as far as, well, being able to find enough business to stay in business.
Yes, it’s quite a conundrum for those not familiar with the HVAC craft and the business of it, and there’s so much to know… but in this, and the segments to follow, I’ll do what I can to educate those who are uninitiated regarding the specifics of “getting into the A/C service business”, dispel some of the myths that are common to our craft, and, if nothing else, help someone decide that the HVAC business isn’t for them.
I’ll begin by addressing the question of licensing… for a company-employed technician, not an independent operator.
The answer to the question, “What kind of license do I need?” or the statement/question of assumption, “I need to get licensed, so what do I do?” is, it depends on what state you’re in.
Some states, such as Kentucky, require that any technician who performs service on air conditioning equipment must obtain a license. And, there may also be a requirement, such as there is in Kentucky, that every technician working in this field needs to complete a given number of hours of continuing education annually in order to renew that license. Other states may have no requirement whatsoever for somebody who is employed as an A/C service technician.
Note that what I’m talking about here is “Licensing” not “Certification”. They are two completely different subjects. Obtaining a certification, whether it’s a trade or industry certification, or government-required one, involves testing to demonstrate competency. That’s pretty much a given. When it comes to technician licensing, though, there may be some testing involved, and then again, maybe not. In some cases, the only requirement to get technician-licensed as an employee to begin with, is to pay the required fee.
To figure out where you fit in regarding the subject of technician license requirement, do some research. There are several HVAC-related sites that you can visit and ask questions about what’s required (or not) to get started as an A/C technician in your particular state, and if there’s one thing you can take to the bank about those in the HVACR community, there is always someone willing to respond to your inquiry on a thread or discussion board about “getting into the HVAC business”… that is, if you’re serious about it… more on that later.
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