How to Become an HVAC Technician in Illinois
People who are physically fit and have strong attention to detail and critical thinking skills might consider applying for HVAC technician jobs in Illinois.
In addition, professionals in this field can enjoy this lucrative, rewarding career or go into business themselves by becoming private HVAC contractors.
Education and Training
Aspiring HVAC technicians in IL need specialized training to learn how to safely use the proper equipment and perform the required duties for the job. People wondering how to become an HVAC technician in Illinois generally have the following two training options to choose from:
- Enroll in an HVAC program at an Illinois trade school or community college
- Learn on the job while participating in an HVAC tech apprenticeship
HVAC Technician School in IL
Many aspiring HVAC techs learn the tools of the trade by completing a formal education program.
Qualified industry professionals teach students the necessary skills they need to succeed in the HVAC profession, including:
- Fundamentals of Electrical, Heating and Cooling Systems
- Commercial and Residential Refrigeration
- Blueprint and Schematic Reading
- Welding and Sheet Metal Fabrication
- Basic Mathematics
- Load Calculations, Hydronics, and Psychometrics
- HVAC System Troubleshooting and Diagnostics
If you plan on eventually starting your own HVAC company, you might also consider taking some business courses. Taking a communication class to learn effective ways of talking with clients and coworkers can also be a good idea.
Like other jobs in the skilled trades, HVAC technicians complete hands-on training to develop the hand-eye coordination and dexterity they need for the job. Schools often have on-campus labs and workshops where HVAC students can work on different types of ventilation systems while their instructor supervises and ensures they use the proper safety measures they learned during their classes.
If you prefer, you can complete your HVAC technician training through an Illinois Department of Employment Security-approved apprenticeship. Local contractors and construction companies may offer jobs to trainees who want to become HVAC technicians in Illinois.
Apprentices typically perform entry-level tasks alongside licensed professionals, including:
- Completing simple maintenance tasks on heating and cooling units
- Helping employers and supervisors service HVAC systems on-site and in-store
- Cleaning air ducts
- Replacing refrigerant
- Helping diagnose malfunctions in HVAC equipment and systems
Specific duties and program lengths vary, depending on what each employer needs from their apprentices. Typically, trainees earn the necessary hours to complete their apprenticeships in about two years.
Illinois HVAC Technician Requirements
Since there is no statewide licensing or certification requirement for HVAC technicians in IL, standards vary across different counties.
Depending on which part of the state you live in, you might need to earn one of the following North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certifications:
- Certified HVAC Professional (CHP-5)
- Ready-To-Work Certificate
- HVAC Support Technician
Why Obtain a Credential?
Even if the county you live in allows uncertified techs to qualify for HVAC technician jobs in Illinois, you might consider obtaining one of these credentials to help improve your chances of getting hired. Having an additional certification is an excellent way to prove your skills and expertise to potential employers.
While each locality determines the official requirements for HVAC technicians in IL, any tech planning to work on refrigeration units must have an official Section 608 Technician Certification from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This certification proves that you understand proper methods for repairing, servicing, or disposing of equipment that can release refrigerants into the atmosphere.
Types of Certifications
Depending on the specific requirements of your employer, you might need to obtain one of the following EPA certifications to qualify for HVAC jobs in Illinois:
- Type I: For servicing small appliances
- Type II: For disposing of or servicing high-pressure appliances
- Type III: For servicing low-pressure equipment and appliances
- Universal: For servicing all types of appliances and equipment
HVAC Technician Salaries in IL
Although the average HVAC technician salary in Illinois is roughly $37,453, your annual earnings may vary depending on where you live and work. The list below offers regional salary information for techs in different cities to help you determine how much HVAC techs make in your area.
- Chicago $39,982
- Decatur $37,932
- Rockford $37,947
- Springfield $36,616
- Peoria $33,995
- Elgin $40,349
- Kankakee $33,404
As you can see, HVAC techs working in large, densely-populated cities tend to make more than those in smaller towns. Your skill level and work experience play an important role as well. For example, HVAC technicians in IL with more experience can make upwards of $70,000 per year. You might also earn higher wages if you have a formal education or an official certification.
HVAC technician jobs in Illinois require physical stamina, strong attention to detail, and a thorough understanding of fundamental construction and machine maintenance principles. During their workdays, HVAC techs perform duties like:
- Installing ventilation and refrigeration systems
- Repair or install electrical components and wiring
- Maintaining air conditioning systems and gas and electric heating units
- Inspect and repair heating and cooling systems
- Consult with builders and construction teams on ventilation system needs for a new structure
- Traveling to homes and businesses to respond to maintenance calls
Physical Demands of HVAC Jobs in Illinois
While on the job, HVAC technicians in IL typically need to sit, stand, kneel, or stoop down in uncomfortable positions for extended periods of time. Techs must also be able to lift 25 to 100 pounds and work in confined or cramped areas. Depending on the job site, an HVAC tech might perform their workday duties outdoors in hot, cold, rainy, or humid weather.
Reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that HVAC technician jobs will likely increase by about five percent over the next ten years, which translates to over $40,100 job openings becoming available between 2021 and 2031. Hopefuls who complete a formal education program and earn an official HVAC certification typically have an easier time finding work than other applicants.