HVAC Education and Training Requirements in Oregon
Undergraduate Education Options
HVAC training in the State of Oregon is the first step in pursuing a career in that field. Enrolling in a certificate or career diploma program is one available option. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This career pathway is offered at five community or technical colleges in Oregon. The number of credit hours in the program determines the time it takes to complete, which ranges between one and two years. However, students studying part-time may take longer to complete the program.
An alternative training path is to complete an apprenticeship that combines classroom instruction with on-the-job training. The four-year HVAC technician/installer apprentice program is available at two community colleges in Oregon. The hourly pay may vary at each college and increases as the program progresses. The type of training and work experience influence the entry-level salary of an HVAC technician.
The seven technical training programs in Oregon require either a high school diploma or a GED, and students must be at least 18 years of age. Several programs require passing a placement test in reading and math, or having taken the algebra in high school or college and received a grade of “C” or better. The HVAC classroom curriculum includes electrical, refrigeration, and environmental control systems topics that focus on installation and repair of wiring, controls, switches, heat pumps, ductwork, and other components of HVAC residential and commercial units. Three training programs provide specialized training in refrigeration systems and handling refrigerant. All seven Oregon HVAC trade schools are designed to prepare students for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Section 608 Technician Certification, which is required to work as a HVAC technician or installer.
HVAC training may be applied towards an Associate of Applied Science Degree, such as in Facilities Maintenance Technology. Alternately, the class credits many be applied towards another technical career pathway or apprenticeship, such as an electrician or sheet metal worker.
After completing HVAC career training, a certificate program, or apprenticeship; the next step is HVAC certification by passing the EPA Section 608 Technician Certification test. There are three types of certification or a universal certification that permits working with all types of HVAC units. Some HVAC training programs offer study guides for the test or include all or a portion of the test fee.
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- Certificate - HVAC
Work as an HVAC technician
Entry-level employment involves installing or servicing HVAC systems at residential or commercial jobsites. The typical starting position is a HVAC Service Technician Trainee or HVAC Installer Trainee. The projected employment growth rate over the next decade for HVAC Technicians and Installers in Oregon is at 18%, which is comparable to the average for all jobs in the state.
In Oregon, after two years of HVAC installation work (4,000 hours) plus specialized training through school, an apprenticeship, or other approved program; an HVAC technician or installer can apply for a license. The license is required for any contracted work that costs at least $1,000, including all labor and materials. Depending on the type and scope of work, one of the following licenses may be most appropriate: Limited Maintenance Specialty Contractor-HVAC/R, Commercial Specialty Contractor, Residential Specialty Contractor, or Residential Limited Contractor. Additional licensing requirements must be met to advance to a supervisor position.
The Limited Maintenance Specialty Contractor-HVAC/R license does not require an exam. This three-year license costs $75. Commercial and residential contractor licenses, on the other hand, require passing an open-book exam with 80 multiple-choice questions. The cost of the exam is $85. The license fee for a commercial or residential contractor is $325 and must be renewed every two years.
HVAC technicians can choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Sciences, or another related field of study. Some college credits from HVAC training programs may be transferable to a bachelor degree, which typically takes four years to complete. A bachelor degree can lead to a Master of Science degree with approximately another two years of study. Obtaining a PhD through a doctorate program requires several more years of study. Some form of engineering degree is required to design HVAC systems.
The Oregon Limited Maintenance Specialty Contractor-HVAC/R license does not have any continuing education requirements to renew every three years. However, all residential and commercial contractor licenses have continuing education requirements to renew. Residential contractors must complete eight hours of continuing education every two years, while commercial contractors must complete 16 hours or more.