HVAC technicians install and service air conditioning, heating, refrigeration and other ventilation units by employing knowledge obtained through educational pursuit and skills gained during an on-the-job training through the completion of an apprenticeship. HVAC technicians in Michigan require licensing. In addition, certification offers such techs more career opportunities. Although it is possible to become an HVAC technician solely through on-the-job training, most employers require at least an associate's degree from an accredited institution, and many apprenticeship programs will not entertain applications lacking college level studies in HVAC.
Graduate from high school with a strong foundation in mathematics, mechanical drawing, chemistry, physics, blueprint reading, computer software applications and electronics. As an HVAC technician, you will be reading schematics and diagrams as part of your job duties, so a strong core of reading and mathematics (including algebra) is critical. Chemistry and physics will aid you in understanding the chemicals used in the equipment and how to manipulate those chemicals to service and maintain the equipment.
Attend and graduate from an HVAC technician associate's degree program at a post-secondary technical center or a local community college, with a minimum of a 2.0 grade point average. Some reputable programs in Michigan include Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, Northwestern Technological Institute in Southfield and Lansing Community College in Lansing. Expect to study a strong foundation in the principles of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, while refining those skills in a laboratory. You will learn how to test, troubleshoot, repair and maintain electrical and mechanical HVAC components and systems. Also expect to take required general education course, including public speaking, English, and math such as Algebra and Trigonometry. A course in the use and maintenance of microcomputers is a requirement as well. Refer to the resources section for a complete outline of an HVAC program offered by Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich.
Apply for and complete an apprenticeship program in HVAC. An HVAC apprenticeship will last three to five years and consists of on-the-job training that will prepare you for licensure in Michigan and national certification. A minimum of three years experience is required to apply for licensure in Michigan. The Michigan HVAC Vocational Training Center offers an extensive apprenticeship program that includes 630 hours of classroom and lab training, in addition to 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. This program take four years to complete and will prepare you for licensure in Michigan. In addition, they can help you with job placement upon successful completion (see Resources).
Obtain national certifications while completing your internship. The North American Technician Excellence organization offers the opportunity to certify with more than 22 tests designed to gauge a technician’s applied knowledge of HVAC. The highest designation is the Senior Level Technician. Although anyone can sit for the exams, it is recommend that you have one year of experience for installation technician certification, two years of experience for service technician and five years of experience for senior level technician certification. You can contact Oakland Community College in Auburn Hills, Mich., at (248) 232-4121 to obtain information on testing dates and locations. Alternatively, you can view the NATE’s website to learn specifics on certifications available (see Resources).
Get your license to work as an HVAC Technician in Michigan. The Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth’s Mechanical Division oversees the licensing of HVAC Technicians. You will need to submit an application for licensure and once approved, sit for an exam in Lansing, Mich., to receive your license. If approved, you will receive a card in the mail 10 days before the exam to allow admission. The exam will cover all aspects of HVAC, including troubleshooting, installation, service and maintenance. Refer to Resources for the complete application and more information regarding exam, licensing procedures and dates to take the exam. Upon passing, you will receive notification and your Mechanical Contractors license.
Continuing your education beyond the associate’s degree to include a bachelor's or a master's in HVAC Engineering Technology will further your career by qualifying you for a position as a Project Management or Director.
If you have any felonies or are currently on parole, you must disclose this on your application for licensing. Failure to disclose this information will result in denial of your opportunity to sit for the exam and gain licensure.