HVAC Technician in FL

How to Become an HVAC Tech in Florida

HVAC systems are vital across the country and even more critical when combatting the heat and humidity of Florida. A career as an HVAC technician is an excellent way to earn a competitive salary in a highly-demanded field.

Education and Training

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    Florida Career College

    • West Palm Beach, Lauderdale Lakes


    FORTIS College
    Combines classroom instruction, lab work and career services to help students entry level positions.

    • Cutler Bay, Orange Park, Pensacola, Port St. Lucie


    Lake Technical College

    • Eustis


    Pinellas Technical College
    Industry certifications include EPA Refrigerant Handling Certification (Section 608), ESCO Workplace Readiness Certification, NCCER Certifications; 750 hour course

    • Clearwater, St. Petersburg


    Southern Technical College
    10 month diploma program gets you ready for HVAC-R employment.

    • Auburndale, Brandon, Fort Myers, Orlando, Port Charlotte, Sanford, Tampa


    Tulsa Welding School
    Affordable, 7 month refrigeration technologies program.

    • Jacksonville


    Universal Technical Institute
    7 month program that for entry-level careers in HVACR including certifications like NATE, R410a and OSHA.

    • Orlando, Miramar


How Long Does It Take?

Online educational certificate programs, such as the ones above typically take up to 1 year to complete.

The duration of your prerequisite training and education when preparing for Florida’s HVAC licensing exams will be at least 4 years.

Florida demands educational and practical experience as a part of their vocational training requirement, which can be achieved in various manners.

Students may opt to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC Technology, which typically consists of 2,000 hours of experience over the course of 4 years. Others may pursue an apprenticeship for the entirety of that time and learn solely on the job, spending at least one of those years of training as a foreman.

Students may also pursue a combination of classroom-style education and hands-on work experience, combining a certificate or Associate’s degree program with a shorter experience as an apprentice.

How Much Does It Cost?

Online educational certificate programs, such as the ones above, may cost between $1,200 and $3,000.

HVAC certificate programs and Associate’s degrees at trade schools and vocational colleges may range from $1,200 to $15,000, depending on completion time.

Bachelor’s degrees in HVAC technology may range from $15,000 to $35,000.

The price of Florida’s different certifications and licensing varies by jurisdiction but may range from $100 to $200 for acquiring the actual license.

Costs for training programs also vary depending on the degree level and time commitment involved.

What Do You Study?

A foundational course on HVAC technology will address the following:

  • Proper installation and operation of cooling and heating systems.
  • Typical maneuvres HVAC technicians may perform when installing and fitting piping.
  • The 4 primary components that comprise the vapor-compression refrigeration cycle.
  • The functions and desirable characteristics of system refrigerants and how to recover, recycle, reclaim, and retrofit them.
  • Regulations dictated by the Environmental Protection Agency governing refrigerant handling and transport and residential energy laws.
  • The latest advances in green technology addressing any new developments and complexities in the engineering, installation, and repairing of HVAC systems.

Benefits of Taking the Course

Though a full-length degree program may provide consistent structure and guidance some students may need, a year-length course allows students to pay back their educational investment early on, gaining all the necessary foundational knowledge required to seek employment as a paid apprentice.

Taking both an educational course and seeking an apprenticeship as opposed to pursuing a 4-year degree or 4-year apprenticeship grants students the best of both worlds, preparing them for licensing examinations and more advanced certifications while also giving them hands-on technical experience and customer service skills that will enable them to hit the ground running and advance faster when working independently.

Salary

How Much Can You Make?

The national average salary for HVAC technicians is $54,690 per year, and Florida’s average wage for HVAC technicians is $46,850 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average salaries for Florida’s major cities include the following, according to Indeed.com:

  • Orlando: $25.57 per hour, $51,254 per year
  • St Pete: $25 per hour, $50,114 per year
  • Tampa: $24.71 per hour, $49,525 per year
  • Miami: $24.34 per hour, $48,778 per year
  • Jax: $23.23 per hour, $46,552 per year

Career Path

Florida requires all HVAC technicians to have a State Certified License, enabling contractors to work anywhere in the state, or a State Registered license, which limits labor to a specific county.

Various levels of licensing–Class A and Class B licenses, which exist for state-certified and state-registered license types–grant contractors flexibility in pursuing multiple career paths and levels of commitment to different fields in HVAC technology.

State License or Certification

Florida’s only statewide licensing requirement to become an HVAC technician is a State Certified or State Registered License. After completing the appropriate HVAC certification exam, a contractor will be granted this license and permitted to work across the state or in their specific county, depending on their license.

To become a licensed HVAC technician in the state of Florida, either a Class A or Class B Air Conditioning Contractor License is required. A Class A license allows you to work on any size of air conditioning unit, while a Class B license will enable you to work on units with 25 tons of cooling or less and a maximum of 500,000 BTU of heating.

In addition to these 2 classes, Florida offers two licenses: a State Certified License and a State Registered License. A State Certified License enables contractors to work anywhere in Florida upon passing the respective licensing exam. A State Registered License is county-specific, and contractors with this license may only work in the respective locality of their competence exam, restricting them to specific counties.

Ultimately, Florida offers 4 licenses to prospective HVAC technicians: a Class A State Certified License, a Class B State Certified License, a Class A State Registered License, and a Class B State Registered License.

You may work with a state-certified or registered license, though if you only possess the latter, your work will be limited to certain jurisdictions. You must be at least 18, have a high school diploma or GED, complete a training program, and gain experience in the industry to qualify for either of Florida’s HVAC licensing exams.

Additional Certifications

A wide variety of additional certifications are available to HVAC technicians, enabling them to work in higher-demand specialties and increase their earning potential.

The nonprofit organization North American Technician Excellence (NATE) offers an additional certification emphasizing various HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair technicalities. Completing the NATE exam and earning this license may increase an HVAC technician’s annual salary by up to $20,000.

The HVAC Excellence certification, managed by the ESCO Institute, is another high-level HVAC certification that can increase a technician’s earning potential. This certification addresses the fundamentals of air conditioning and refrigeration systems.

Additional certifications offered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit HVAC technicians to work with more technically-advanced aspects of refrigeration systems. The EPA 608 certification addresses servicing and repairing air conditioning systems under the compliance of environmental laws and regulations. The EPA 609 certification educates technicians on servicing and repairing air conditioning and refrigeration systems used in motor vehicles.

Apprenticeships

Though Florida requires 4 years of vocational training to gain licensing as an HVAC technician, acquiring an apprenticeship is optional to meet these criteria.

Still, an apprenticeship can be an excellent way for prospective technicians to start earning early, even before receiving state licensing, and it can grant students hands-on experience and customer service skills a degree program may cover more superficially. The cost of extensive education may be unaffordable for some, so an apprenticeship enables students to get paid while still learning the necessary skills to work independently.

Students may pursue both an education and an apprenticeship, optimizing their training by completing a 1-year course or certificate program and following up with an apprenticeship, paying back their initial educational investment.

Entry-Level Job Description

An entry-level HVAC technician will primarily assist senior technicians and supervisors. Though specific tasks may vary based on a technician’s license class, technicians will be expected to aid in installing and repairing heating, cooling, and ventilation systems for residential and commercial clients.

In addition, they may be required to provide physical support with equipment and part management and engage in managerial tasks such as documenting services and calculating price estimates.

When not actively installing or servicing systems, entry-level HVAC technicians may be asked to interpret blueprints and communicate with customers empathetically and effectively in a comprehensive manner, even for clientele unfamiliar with HVAC terminology.

Skillsets or Requirements

Technical skills required for a career in HVAC technology may range drastically based on the specific tasks assigned; still, there are some criteria a technician will be expected to fulfill regardless of the distinct nature of the job.

Problem-solving skills applicable to identifying faults in air conditioning systems are essential when repairing pre-existing systems, as is the general ability to work efficiently and effectively.

Communicating a potential issue to customers without complicated jargon is vital to performing quality service.

Beyond these soft skills, an HVAC technician is expected to be able to read blueprints, as well as perform the basic electrical, mechanical, and construction skills that may accompany installing or repairing an HVAC system in compliance with any relevant laws and regulations. Due to the increasingly advanced nature of HVAC technology, a technician is also expected to be familiar with navigating computer software.

Career Outlook

Given the perpetual demand for HVAC system installations, maintenance, and unpredictable emergency repairs, this profession offers an abundance of prospects for those pursuing a financially and intellectually-stimulating occupation.
Pros & Cons of the Job

HVAC technicians in Florida are afforded a vast array of accessible pathways to bolster their income through additional certifications, such as the NATE Exam or the HVAC Excellence Certificate. Due to Florida’s climate and air conditioning systems’ constant need for maintenance and upkeep, a career in HVAC technology provides tradespeople with exceptionally high job stability.

HVAC technicians and similar contractors can maximize their returns on their educational investments, earning early in their careers by working as apprentices. HVAC technicians also have the luxury of working flexible hours since clients’ air conditioning systems may need repairs around the clock.

Being an HVAC technician is a physically demanding career, even disregarding any personal risks involved. Working frequently in confined spaces, such as attics and crawl spaces, and operating with electrical components only increases the risk of injury. Though the career may offer flexible work hours, this may also lead to undesirable scheduling, working into the evening and on weekends.

Is it a promising career?

Being an HVAC technician is a promising occupation with tremendous opportunities for career development. After acquiring adequate licensing in Florida, technicians can seek employment with larger companies that provide benefits and structured scheduling, offering employees seniority and job security due to their established reputation.

Alternatively, technicians may choose self-employment, which grants flexible hours, competitive pay, and potentially higher earning potential, should they pursue an entrepreneurial path and start their own business.

Career Growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the forecasted growth rate for careers in heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installation from 2021 to 2031 is 5%, which matches the average growth rate across all occupations. Additional openings are expected to arise–nearly 41,000 per year–due to a retiring workforce and heightened demand for increasingly trained technicians because of the increasing complexity of HVAC systems.

Search HVACR Certified Technician Programs

Get information on HVACR Certified Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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