When homeowners or businesses are suffering from discomfort due to a malfunctioning HVAC system, HVAC contractors are the individuals who save the day with their skills and knowledge. How do aspiring HVAC contractors get their start, though? If you’re looking to enter this rewarding and lucrative field, it’s important to understand the proper process to ensure you can enjoy long-term success.
Decide How You’ll Begin
There are essentially two paths you can take when you begin your journey to become an HVAC contractor. You can choose to start in a formal training program, or you can choose to learn in an apprenticeship under a Master HVAC contractor. However, the area that you live in and the licensing required to work in your area may differ on what you need to get started. Traditional classroom training, such as the kind found in trade schools, will equip you with more head knowledge that you can then apply in the field. Typically schools will have a variety of classroom information that will benefit you as a professional HVAC contractor. For example, you will likely learn how to evaluate and repair different systems in addition to the basics of how to run your own business. Some trade schools will even provide you with training for marketing and accounting so that you can have the knowledge needed to start your own business. On the other hand, apprenticeship training gives you more hands-on experience. For example, it is common for a student at a school to learn and get tested on repairing a system a handful of times before graduating. However, with an apprenticeship, it’s likely that you will repair an HVAC system a handful of times each week. With both paths having its advantages, many people are deciding to go through trade school and then move into apprenticeship programs. That way they have the hands-on experience and the knowledge needed to run their own business.
Get a License
If you want to make money as a trusted HVAC contractor, a license is an absolute must. In fact, it’s typically required by law in most regions if you want to market your services. Working without a license is illegal in most places due to the potential dangers of working on an HVAC system. The good news is that a license isn’t terribly expensive to acquire in most states. After completing the required number of hours of training, you’ll take a test that will ensure you have learned what you need to know. Luckily, the training and hours of work needed for your license can typically be acquired through an apprenticeship or through some schools. Depending on the types of systems you want to work on and if you also want to open the doors between residential and commercial systems, you may want to go through multiple apprenticeship programs.
Build a Reputation
Once licensed, you’ll want to build your reputation and your skills as a proficient HVAC contractor. Many individuals choose to do this by working for a larger HVAC company so that they can hone their skills and make good money without taking on much risk. Depending on how comfortable you are with every aspect of the HVAC business, you may want to work for that company well past the time you are proficient with repairing systems, that way you can get better at managing customer expectations and customer satisfaction. In addition, this is a great stage to move forward with various certifications until you become a Master HVAC contractor. Some companies will even pay for the exams needed for your certifications since it can help their business fulfill more customers’ needs. In these cases, it’s likely that you are expected to stay with the company for a number of months after the certification has been earned so make sure that you understand what is expected of you before leveraging them to get your certifications funded.
Increase Your Pay
One of the biggest reasons that HVAC professionals start their own business is because they want to get a larger percentage of the money paid to get repairs done. To give yourself the best chance of increasing your pay and improving your work flexibility, you’ll want to start your own HVAC company. While this process can be challenging while you get everything organized, it is ultimately quite rewarding when you’re able to build a new business from scratch. With the right mix of customer satisfaction and a good online presence, you’ll ensure that you have a solid business for years to come. When making the transition from employee to contractor, make sure that you are following whatever your employment contract is. Many companies have a non-compete clause and may not allow you to contact previous customers within a certain time frame of you leaving the company. This is an important detail to understand as it may make it harder for you to get your first customers once you become a contractor.
Every good HVAC technician is always learning. Even those who have been working in the field for decades still learn new information from time to time. If you want to truly be successful as an HVAC contractor, make sure that you take every opportunity to learn something new, even if it’s something small. This will give you a strong foundation to be able to assist homeowners with all of their HVAC needs.