Those working in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry often work with environmentally damaging gases and other substances. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency requires workers in this field to pass certification exams prior to working on various HVAC systems. Those interested in working in this field have a number of options for earning an EPA approved HVAC certification.
Many vocational and technical schools as well as community colleges offer training designed to teach students the skills to attain a HVAC EPA certification. Program length will vary depending on the specific school a student attends, but these programs generally last for less than one year. In addition to onsite training, a student can also choose to complete certification programs through some schools completely online. Students will receive a certificate or diploma from the school upon completion of the program.
Though the specific courses required to complete a training program will vary, programs have similar course offerings as the goal of these programs is to pass the EPA examination. Students will complete courses in residential and commercial heating and cooling units, gain knowledge of the chemicals used in these systems, learn about the electronic and manual control mechanisms that operate the systems and how to troubleshoot faulty operation. On-site programs will include significant hands on instructional training.
The short length of these training programs can help a student to quickly learn skills needed by employers. The demand for trained technicians should continue to grow in coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, providing numerous career opportunities for those with an EPA HVAC certification. These training programs can also be useful for a person working in the home repair field to develop more skills allowing him to complete a wider range of work. Many schools also cover the cost of the student’s first attempt to pass the EPA examination.
At the completion of a certification program, a student will take an examination to prove competency. There are three different types of certification that a person can have: small appliances, high pressure and low pressure. To receive a certification, a student must pass a core skills test and then at least one of the three specific certification examinations. For example, a student that passes the core exam and the high pressure exam can only work on high pressure systems. A person passing all four examinations receives a universal certification. These examinations focus on proper handling of environmentally hazardous materials, in particular the recovery and recycling of gases contained in air conditioning and refrigeration units. The examinations also cover leak testing for various systems, recharging of systems and safe practices.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers; December 2009
- Remington College: HVAC Certification Exams Available to Remington College Students
- Penn Foster Career School: HVAC Technician
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Overview of Issues on EPA Certification Test; August 2010