When you think of Washington, DC, you usually think of politics, but there are other career choices there as well. Career options in Washington DC include the service industry of HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair.
HVAC technicians in Washington DC rake in the second highest salaries for the industry in the nation. The average salary is $59,090 per year, and it is one of the areas with the highest concentration of available jobs for HVAC technicians. This article will explain how to become licensed as an HVAC technician in the District of Columbia.
Old-Fashioned Training for a Modern Career
Before you can be licensed as an HVAC technician, you must be properly trained. Heating and air technicians are trained in a hands-on manner. In Washington, DC, you can follow two career paths. You can either work as an apprentice or attend a formal vocational training program.
There are many vocational schools that you could choose to attend in the District of Columbia. A traditional trade school is a state of the art learning center for the novice HVAC technician. Student technicians learn about cutting edge technology and environmentally-friendly green upgrades while learning how to repair the older heating and air systems.
There are numerous trade schools in nearby Virginia that provide the training and opportunities to learn skills that are vital to a career in HVAC installation and repair. You can get started by finding a HVAC school near you by filling out the form below. It only takes a few seconds!
If you are planning to service or install refrigeration, heating or air conditioning equipment in Washington, DC, you must be licensed. There are fees, exams, and requirements that must be met before you can be issued a license from the Board of Industrial Trades. We discuss these requirements below.
Working as an HVAC technician in Washington, DC provides you with a lucrative salary after you are an established technician. In the beginning, you must pay a $65 application fee for HVAC license applicants. There is also an $85 exam fee.
You must be at least 18 years before you can apply and receive an HVAC license in Washington, DC. You must provide documentation of your age and identity. This documentation includes two 2” x 2” passport size, good-quality photos of the face.
If you don’t own your own HVAC business, you must submit a notarized employment verification letter on company letterhead to prove that you are an employee of an HVAC business.
The Board of Industrial Trades of the Occupational and Professional Licensing Administration provides forms for scheduling exams and verifying your training along with the application form for new applicants. You must not owe any outstanding debt to the District of Columbia government. You must not owe any past-due child support. You must also submit a copy of a government-issued ID.
Applicants must submit a Certificate of Completion of an apprenticeship program. If you attended and graduated from an HVAC training school, a copy of a graduation certificate in a sealed envelope must be mailed directly from the school to the Board.
After you submit your application and it’s approved by the DC Board of Industrial Trades, you will either receive an apprenticeship or contractor license or be allowed to sit for the refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic exam.
HVAC technicians learn to safely recover refrigerants and to charge refrigeration systems. The refrigerant mechanics must have the Section 608 EPA certification to be able to purchase the refrigerants. Universal certification allows you to be licensed to service all three types of appliances: Type I small appliances, Type II high-pressure appliances, and Type III low-pressure appliances.
Refrigeration and air conditioning exams must be passed before earning licensure. There are three open book exams. The exam questions are all multiple choice.
The Journeyman Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Exam contains 60 questions, and you are allowed two hours to complete it. The Master Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanical Limited exam contains 70 questions, and you have three hours to complete this portion. The Master Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanical Unlimited exam is an 80 question exam.You are allowed three and a half hours to complete this exam.
The exam that you take determines your licensure level in the District of Columbia. The Journeyman exam leads the way to the contractor level license. The Master Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Unlimited exam leads to the Master Mechanic license. The Master Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Limited exam leads to the Master Mechanic Limited license.
The Master Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic Limited License and the Master Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic License require five years of work experience and a passing score on the written exam. Those with the limited license may only install, repair, or provide maintenance services on air conditioning systems of 25 compressor horsepower or smaller, or the equivalent tons of refrigeration in the system.
The examination for the master mechanic license tests the theoretical and practical knowledge of installing, maintaining, repairing, and replacing of air conditioning systems larger than 25 compressor horsepower.
Pearson Vue handles the examination process for the Board of Industrial Trades in the District of Columbia. If you are unable to appear at the scheduled time for the exam, you will forfeit your application and examination fees.
The International Mechanical Code produced by the International Code Council and updated in 2015 is a reference that can be used during the exam. You may also refer to a copy of the book Modern Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, published in 2004. The authors of this reference are Andrew D. Althouse, Carl H. Turnquist, Alfred F. Bracciano, Daniel C. Bracciano and Gloria M. Bracciano. Modern Refrigeration and Air Conditioning contains technical content as well as theory and service techniques. This book teaches the novice and refreshes the master mechanics. The service call scenarios and the correlations to HVAC Excellence and PAHRA standards are of particular interest to the test taker.
Both of these books are industry-standard reference materials. These reference materials should be reviewed thoroughly prior to the scheduled exam date. Although the exam is open book, you will be working within a time limit, and you will need to be familiar with each so that you can retrieve the necessary information at a moment’s notice.
Open book exams sound easy, and they should be; however, relying on the book to retain the knowledge is not sufficient for passing these exams. Each applicant for this licensure must have hands-on experience and working knowledge of the theory. These tests show your skill level as well as your knowledge of the HVAC textbooks.
If you haven’t yet chosen a career path, the HVAC service industry is one field that you should explore, especially in Washington, DC. The salary is lucrative, and the work is plentiful in this region. With the right training and licensure, you could be your own boss as a commercial contractor or residential installer.
If you prefer being an employee without the headaches of management, there are plenty of opportunities for you as well. The future is bright for HVAC technicians in Washington, DC.