If you're looking for a steady skilled profession that pays a living wage, you might want to consider becoming a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technician. In 2016, HVAC technicians made a median salary of $45,910 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The profession is expected to grow much faster than normal in the coming decade, meaning the demand for this kind of work is projected to rise, leading to higher rates of employment for HVAC technicians. This healthy outlook is bolstered by the emergence of new technology, like personal heating and cooling devices, that require skilled labor to install and repair. In fact, energy agencies in the government are offering educational institutions funding to train new HVAC technicians in anticipation of this rise in demand.
HVAC technicians install heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems, which includes connecting these systems to existing fuel and water supply lines and installing the electrical wiring necessary to run these systems. Technicians also can be contacted to repair or perform routine maintenance on these systems. Some technicians specialize in one of these systems and some only do installations or only do repairs and maintenance. In this article, we'll be going over the requirements to become an HVAC technician in Columbia, Maryland. We'll be discussing the various associations, average salaries, and educational requirements for the area.
How Does Columbia, Maryland Compare?
In Columbia, Maryland, HVAC technicians make a little bit less than the national average, making approximately $44,379 per year. However, there is a lot of variance in this number, and technicians can make anything from $38,114 and $52,121 according to Salary.com. The large variance can be attributed to the aforementioned specialization of technicians, as some who can handle more complicated installations and repairs will be paid more than those that provide more basic services. There will also be variance depending on the number of years the technician has been doing the work, as more experienced technicians typically earn more money for a job than those that are new to the profession. Lastly, the size and reputation of the company they work for may also cause a difference in earnings, as larger corporations that are better known may be able to charge more for services than smaller, locally owned businesses. Roughly 10% of HVAC technicians are self-employed and can, therefore, set their own rates.
Becoming an HVAC technician in Maryland requires a license, which is relatively common. Eleven states do not require a state license, but even in these states, there may be a requirement to get licensing through a local agency. Licenses in Maryland must be obtained through the Maryland Board of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors.
However, Maryland is distinctly different from other states in its HVAC licensing as it requires all of its HVAC technicians to obtain at least an apprentice-level license. This means that to become an HVAC technician in Maryland, you will be required to complete a full on apprenticeship. This method does have its advantages as some people benefit more from the hands-on learning structure of an apprenticeship as opposed to learning from a classroom setting. It's also advantageous as the apprentice actually earns money while they are learning the trade. The most popular apprenticeship programs in Maryland are offered through the Maryland Division of Labor, Licensing, & Regulation. This government agency gives money to businesses in order to encourage them to take on new apprentices. Hopeful HVAC technicians can plan on completing at least 2,000 hours of training over the course of four years to gain entry-level proficiency in the field. This typically includes at least 144 hours of classroom style learning as well. There is a specific apprentice license that must be obtained after the first semester through the State Board of HVACR Contractors There is an organization, named the Maryland Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association, that can help newcomers get acclimated to the industry.
Educational and Job Requirements in Columbia
While this may seem like an awful lot to remember, it's important to keep in mind that accredited educational institutions in the Columbia, MD area have programs available that will walk you through the whole process from start to finish. Enrolling in an accredited institution is a straightforward way to become a professional HVAC technician. We will go over three different programs below.
• Brightwood College
1520 South Caton Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21227
The program at Brightwood boasts the ability to help you become an HVAC technician in as little as 48 weeks. They also put a special emphasis on the EPA Section 608 Certification for Stationary Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, a certification that is particularly important if you plan on working in refrigeration. Their curriculum offers enough hands-on and classroom learning to help you succeed in passing the licensing exams. Tuition at Brightwood will cost between $16,000 and $19,000 according to their website. Their graduates have gone on to work in retail stores, factories, office buildings, and residential buildings.
• All-State Career School
2200 Broening Highway
Baltimore, MD 21224
The All State Career School prides itself on preparing students for the Environmental Protection Agency's Refrigerant Transition and Recovery Certification test, which will bolster the employment opportunities of all its graduates. All-State also helps out with interview techniques, job placement, and teaching students how to fill out applications. They also place a special emphasis on computer-controlled appliances, which are growing in popularity. This program also lasts 48 weeks and costs roughly $19,000 in tuition costs, but 83% of their graduates were able to get placed in jobs upon graduation.
• Lincoln Tech
9325 Snowden River Parkway
Columbia, MD 21046
Right here in Columbia, Maryland, Lincoln Tech offers its program for roughly $21,500, including all the supplies you will need. Lincoln Tech offers the opportunity to work at their on-campus Green House, which trains students in new and emerging technologies, such as solar thermal and geothermal heating. They also prepare students for the Environmental Protection Agency's refrigerant test. In addition to educational requirements, you will also need to have a certain skill set to be successful as an HVAC technician. There are a lot of employers hiring for HVAC Technicians, though some call them HVAC Installers, HVAC Mechanics, HVAC Helpers, HVAC Controls Technicians, or even HVAC Service Technicians. Most jobs require you to:
• Possess knowledge and experience in electrical work, both high and low voltage.
• Have strong communication, teamwork, and problem solving skills.
• Be professional, reliable, and punctual.
• Survey and diagnose existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems for repairs.
• Possess excellent customer service skills and be able to suggest facility improvements.
• Possess knowledge of Mechanical Systems and Controls.
• Provide project team with technical direction and assists with programming, electrical terminations, commissioning, graphic development, test and startup as required.
• Utilize a variety of hand tools and test equipment, and maintains tools and equipment for proper functionality.
This is only an example of the different skills employers are looking for right now in the Columbia, MD market for HVAC technicians.