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Become A Commercial Technician

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Working As A Commercial Technician

  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Stressful

  • $44,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Commercial Technician Do

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers—often called HVACR technicians—work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings.

Duties

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers typically do the following:

  • Use blueprints or design specifications to install or repair HVACR systems
  • Connect systems to fuel and water supply lines, air ducts, and other components
  • Install electrical wiring and controls and test for their proper operation
  • Inspect and maintain customers’ HVACR systems
  • Test individual components to determine necessary repairs
  • Repair or replace worn or defective parts
  • Determine HVACR systems’ energy use and make recommendations to improve their efficiency

Heating and air conditioning systems control the temperature, humidity, and overall air quality in homes, businesses, and other buildings. By providing a climate-controlled environment, refrigeration systems make it possible to store and transport food, medicine, and other perishable items.

Although HVACR technicians are trained to install, maintain, and repair heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems, many focus their work on installation, maintenance, or repair. Some technicians specialize in one or more specific aspects of HVACR, such as radiant heating systems, solar panels, testing and balancing, or commercial refrigeration.

When installing or repairing air conditioning and refrigeration systems, technicians must follow government regulations regarding the conservation, recovery, and recycling of refrigerants. The regulations include those concerning the proper handling and disposal of fluids and pressurized gases.

Some HVACR technicians sell service contracts to their clients, providing periodic maintenance of heating and cooling systems. The service usually includes inspecting the system, cleaning ducts, replacing filters, and checking refrigerant levels.

Other workers sometimes help install or repair cooling and heating systems. For example, on a large air conditioning installation job, especially one in which workers are covered by union contracts, ductwork may be installed by sheet metal workers, electrical work by electricians, and pipework by plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters. Boiler systems sometimes are installed by a boilermaker. In addition, home appliance repairers usually service window air conditioners and household refrigerators.

HVACR technicians use many different tools. For example, they often use screwdrivers, wrenches, pipe cutters, and other basic hand tools when installing systems. Technicians also use more sophisticated tools, such as carbon monoxide testers, voltmeters, combustion analyzers, and acetylene torches, to test or install system components.

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How To Become A Commercial Technician

Because HVACR systems have become increasingly complex, employers generally prefer applicants with postsecondary education or those who have completed an apprenticeship. Some states and localities require technicians to be licensed. Workers may need to pass a background check prior to being hired.

Education

A growing number of HVACR technicians receive postsecondary instruction from technical and trade schools or community colleges that offer programs in heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration. These programs generally last from 6 months to 2 years and lead to a certificate or an associate’s degree. To keep program costs lower, many schools are combining online lectures with in-class lab work.

High school students interested in becoming an HVACR technician should take courses in vocational education, math, and physics. Knowledge of plumbing or electrical work and a basic understanding of electronics is also helpful.

Training

Some HVACR technicians learn their trade exclusively on the job, although this practice is becoming much less common. Those who do usually begin by assisting experienced technicians with basic tasks, such as insulating refrigerant lines or cleaning furnaces. In time, they move on to more difficult tasks, including cutting and soldering pipes or checking electrical circuits.

Some technicians receive their training through an apprenticeship. Apprenticeship programs usually last 3 to 5 years. Each year, apprentices must have at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 144 hours of related technical education. Over the course of the apprenticeship, technicians learn safety practices, blueprint reading, and how to use tools. They also learn about the numerous systems that heat and cool buildings. To enter an apprenticeship program, a trainee must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Pass a basic math test
  • Pass a substance abuse screening
  • Have a valid driver’s license

Apprenticeship programs frequently are run by joint committees representing local chapters of various organizations, including the following:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America, Inc.
  • Associated Builders and Contractors
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America
  • Home Builders Institute
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
  • SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers
  • United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, and Service Techs
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all technicians who buy, handle, or work with refrigerants to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. To become certified, technicians must pass a written exam specific to one of three specializations: Type I—small appliances; Type II—high-pressure refrigerants; and Type III—low-pressure refrigerants. Many trade schools, unions, and employer associations offer training programs designed to prepare students for the EPA exam.

Whether having learned the occupation through postsecondary education or through other means, HVACR technicians may take several different tests that measure their abilities. These tests require different levels of experience. Technicians with relevant coursework and less than 2 years of experience may take the entry-level certification exams. These exams test basic competency in residential heating and cooling, light commercial heating and cooling, and commercial refrigeration. Technicians can take the exams at technical and trade schools.

HVACR technicians who have at least 1 year of installation experience and 2 years of maintenance and repair experience can take a number of specialized exams. These exams certify their competency in working with specific types of equipment, such as oil-burning furnaces or compressed-refrigerant cooling systems. Many organizations offer certifying exams. For example, North American Technician Excellence offers the Industry Competency Exam; HVAC Excellence offers a Secondary Employment Ready Exam, a Secondary Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology exam, and a Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology Plus exam; the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute offers a basic test and an advanced test in conjunction with the Home Builders Institute; the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association offers the entry-level Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator and Certified Industrial Refrigeration Operator certifications; and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) offers EPA certification and specialized-knowledge certificates.

Certifications can be helpful because they show that the technician has specific competencies. Some employers actively seek out industry-certified HVACR technicians.

Some states and localities require HVACR technicians to be licensed. Although specific licensing requirements vary, all candidates must pass an exam.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. HVACR technicians often work in customers’ homes or business offices, so it is important that they be friendly, polite, and punctual. Repair technicians sometimes must deal with unhappy customers whose heating or air conditioning is not working.

Detail oriented. HVACR technicians must carefully maintain records of all work performed. The records must include the nature of the work performed and the time it took, as well as list specific parts and equipment that were used.

Math skills. HVACR technicians need to calculate the correct load requirements to ensure that the HVACR equipment properly heats or cools the space required.

Mechanical skills. HVACR technicians install and work on complicated climate-control systems, so they must understand the HVAC components and be able to properly assemble, disassemble, and, if needed, program them.

Physical stamina. HVACR technicians may spend many hours walking and standing. The constant physical activity can be tiring.

Physical strength. HVACR technicians may have to lift and support heavy equipment and components, often without help.

Time-management skills. HVACR technicians frequently have a set number of daily maintenance calls. They should be able to keep a schedule and complete all necessary repairs or tasks.

Troubleshooting skills. HVACR technicians must be able to identify problems on malfunctioning heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems and then determine the best way to repair them.

Because HVACR workers often work in and around people’s homes, they may need to pass a background check before being hired.

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Commercial Technician Career Paths

Commercial Technician
Technician Team Leader Manager
Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Team Leader Project Manager
Product Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Team Leader Assistant Manager
Warehouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Hvac Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Hvac Technician Maintenance Supervisor Facilities Manager
Director Of Facilities
11 Yearsyrs
Hvac Technician Maintenance Supervisor Manager
Information Technology Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Systems Administrator Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Supervisor Superintendent
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Owner Maintenance Manager
Facilities Maintenance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Field Technician Lead Technician Owner/Operator
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Field Technician Lead Technician Operations Manager
Service Operations Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Field Technician Lead Technician Owner
Owner And Chief Executive Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Refrigeration Technician Electrician Service Manager
Installation Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Refrigeration Technician Foreman Shop Foreman
Technical Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Refrigeration Technician Foreman Business Owner
Entrepreneur
5 Yearsyrs
Electrician Service Manager Regional Service Manager
Area Service Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Electrician Maintenance Technician Supervisor Technical Supervisor
Technical Operations Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Electronics Technician Computer Technician Senior Service Technician
Technical Services Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Service Technician 3.4 years
Heating Technician 3.1 years
Technician 2.7 years
Cable Technician 2.2 years
Top Careers Before Commercial Technician
Technician 16.4%
Cashier 4.9%
Installer 4.6%
Manager 3.4%
Supervisor 3.2%
Driver 2.7%
Top Careers After Commercial Technician
Technician 12.3%
Supervisor 4.4%
Cashier 4.4%
Manager 3.6%
Driver 3.2%
Owner 2.8%

Do you work as a Commercial Technician?

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Commercial Technician?

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Top Skills for A Commercial Technician

  1. Customer Service
  2. Internet
  3. Trouble Calls
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Expanded territory in a downsizing economy with innovative strategies and excellent customer service.
  • Performed installation and troubleshooting for commercial and private Internet customers.
  • Experience with Remedy software for opening and closing tickets for trouble calls.
  • Conducted pest control services for a variety of industrial, commercial and residential accounts.
  • Schedule installation and service teams to desired locations; provide tools, equipment and technical support on a daily basis.

Commercial Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

80.9%

Female

10.5%

Unknown

8.6%
Ethnicity

White

61.4%

Hispanic or Latino

17.4%

Black or African American

12.0%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

3.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

62.5%

Carrier

25.0%

French

12.5%

Commercial Technician Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

15.8%

Austin Community College

8.8%

College of Southern Nevada

5.3%

Eastern Kentucky University

5.3%

Henry Ford College

5.3%

University of Arizona

5.3%

More Tech Institute

5.3%

Purdue University

5.3%

Florida State University

5.3%

Texas A&M University

3.5%

Troy University

3.5%

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

3.5%

University of Maryland - University College

3.5%

University of Northern Colorado

3.5%

St. Philip's College

3.5%

University of South Florida

3.5%

Interactive College of Technology

3.5%

Stark State College

3.5%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

3.5%

North Metro Technical College

3.5%
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Majors

Business

18.6%

Heating And Air Conditioning

11.7%

Electrical Engineering

11.4%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

6.9%

Electrical Engineering Technology

6.6%

Information Technology

4.8%

Computer Science

4.5%

Computer Information Systems

4.1%

Computer Networking

3.8%

Automotive Technology

3.1%

General Studies

2.8%

Management

2.8%

Communication

2.8%

Criminal Justice

2.8%

Biology

2.4%

Education

2.4%

Finance

2.4%

Environmental Science

2.1%

Project Management

2.1%

Music

2.1%
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Degrees

Other

38.1%

Bachelors

23.4%

Associate

18.3%

Certificate

7.9%

Masters

7.0%

Diploma

4.0%

License

1.1%

Doctorate

0.2%
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