Table of Contents
Have you ever thought about becoming an HVAC technician? HVAC is a lucrative field that’s overflowing with jobs right now like no other field.
If you live in Washington State, the average salary is even higher than the national average, and there are many ways to become an HVAC technician. This guide will discuss in detail, the viable options for getting HVAC training done in Washington.
What you will learn in HVAC training
HVAC training can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, and you will learn a great amount about Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and possibly Refrigeration. Some of the topics you’ll learn about HVAC include installing HVAC equipment to comply with federal, state, and local law, and handling equipment safely.
You will also learn about subjects such as natural gas piping, ACR tubing, sheet metal operation, duct sizing, ergonomics, the mechanical code, refrigerant handling, ergonomics, best practices, and even customer relations. These programs will prepare you for certifications required in Washington as well, so that you will be better prepared for your new career.
HVAC Schools in Washington
In Washington State, there are many brick and mortar institutes where you could learn HVAC. One the most prominent institutes is the HVAC School, offering separate specialized courses in each field of HVAC like Air Conditioning or the Heat Pump Fundamentals and Gas Furnace - Troubleshooting course.
Northwest HVAC/R Association Training Center is another good option for students looking for the traditional classroom experience. They offer a full-time 9 month long programs that comes with a job placement guarantee. Their curriculum includes a whole variety of subjects, including boilers, electricity, gas codes and installations, mathematics, and oil service.
HVAC Business and Technical Institute is another trade school in Washington State providing HVAC training. The school offers a variety of short classes on subjects like Understanding Gas & Electric Furnaces, Understanding Electrical Circuits, RCW/WAC Update, and EPA Prep & Test.
If you already have a job or are just too busy to attend school, you could always participate in an online program tailored for HVAC training. Most of these programs are geared towards earning a certificate, and provide EPA Section 608 certification exam preparation.
Ashworth College is one such school that offers a 4-month- long HVAC training including preparation for EPA Section 608 certification.
Penn Foster Career School offers extensive training in the field of HVACR, and their program comes with EPA certification exam voucher, preparation materials, and registration as well.
HVAC Training Solutions offer a self-paced program and provide a unique learning environment aimed at teaching the basics of HVACR. ESCO Institute offers a wide range of learning materials from manuals and textbooks to DVDs.
In Washington State, you are not mandated by law to have a license to work in the field of HVAC, but you are required to have an electrical license. There are two different electrical licenses in Washington State - the trainee level, which requires no prior experience or training to obtain; and the journey level, which you need to have in order to work alone in HVACR.
A trainee must work under the supervision of a journey or master level electrician. A trainee license is valid for two years, and there is a requirement of 24 hours of class per year to be able to renew the certificate. You can sign up or get more information at the state’s Licenses and Inspections department. And be sure to notice that you save a few dollars by paying online!
A journey electrician for HVAC can either follow the general journey course, which includes all specialties, or concentrate just on the necessary areas for HVAC. There are two journey certificates that apply specifically to HVAC workers in Washington: 6A and 6B.
The 6A license is more extensive, and therefore requires more hours of work. A minimum of 4000 hours experience is required. The license is good for three years, and during that time 48 hours of classroom instruction must be completed.
The 6B is a “restricted” license, and is only valid for work in residential and small-scale commercial buildings. It requires 2000 hours of experience, with 24 hours of classroom experience during its term.
In both cases, the experience can be as a trainee in Washington, or verified military experience, or equivalent experience in another state.
If you’re moving to Washington from another state that has equivalent requirements, you can ask that state to provide a notarized letter saying you meet the requirements.
More information on Washington’s requirements for electrical licensing and how it applies to HVAC technicians is found on the state’s L&I site.
Special Requirements for Seattle
If you’re going to be working in Seattle, though, there is an additional licensing requirement is requiring if you’re working with gas piping or refrigerants.
For refrigerants, the type of license varies depending on what class refrigerant you’re using. Also, one license covers contractors, and another covers employees working on buildings owned by their employers.
To be eligible to take the refrigeration exam in Seattle, you must first meet the following requirements:
3 years experience as an apprentice or as a journeyman conducting AC or refrigeration repairs
2 years of full-time study in a recognized school of technology, plus one year work experience
2 years work experience, plus one year of full-time study in a recognized trade school
You can find out more and register on the City of Seattle’s website.
For a gas piping license, there is a separate exam. To be eligible for this exam, you need to be a licensed plumber, obtain a certificate of completion from an approved gas piping mechanic class, and have at least 6 months combined experience as a gas piping mechanic or as an unlicensed worker supervised by a gas piping mechanic. More details are on the city’s website.
Other cities may also have special requirements; be sure to check with local licensing and inspections offices.
Average Income for an HVAC Tech in Washington
Good news for new HVAC technicians in Washington State: The average income is higher than national average. The average hourly wage for HVAC technicians is $26.09 per hour. The starting hourly wage is $15.21 and goes up to $42.48.
The average yearly salary for HVAC technicians in Washington State is $54,280 per year. The starting salary is $31,630 and ranges upward to $88,360. Compared to the national hourly wage of $13.83 - $30.19 and salary range of $30,213 - $71,242, Washington State definitely has the lead.
The HVAC industry is a lucrative field to get into, as the job market growth and stability compares to no other industry. If you happen to live in the state of Washington, you might be in luck, since HVAC has a booming industry in Washington State with an increase in job numbers and higher-than-average salary.
It might take some time and effort to learn HVAC and get the proper certifications, but it will be all worth it in the end, as there is no shortage of demand for skilled workers in this growing industry. If you are considering taking the leap and getting into the world of HVAC, consider your in-state options, as there is a plethora of resources to use in Washington State.