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Become A Hvac Technician

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Working As A Hvac 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

  • $39,826

    Average Salary

What Does A Hvac 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 Hvac 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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Hvac Technician Career Paths

Hvac Technician
Lead Technician Operation Supervisor Assistant Branch Manager
Branch Operations Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Plumber Foreman
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Facilities Manager
Director Of Facilities
12 Yearsyrs
Engineer Engineering Manager Plant Manager
Director Of Plant Operations
14 Yearsyrs
Chief Engineer Facilities Manager Director Of Facilities
Director, Facilities & Operations
7 Yearsyrs
Building Engineer Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Service Manager Operations Manager Assistant Director
Environmental Services Director
10 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Supervisor Field Service Technician Project Engineer
Estimator Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Supervisor Maintenance Manager
Facilities Maintenance Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Chief Engineer Operations Manager Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Sheet Metal Mechanic Foreman Field Supervisor
Field Operation Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Plumber Forklift Operator Carpenter
General Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Sheet Metal Mechanic Material Handler Installer
Installation Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Lead Hvac Technician
8 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Building Engineer Chief Engineer Maintenance Manager
Operations And Maintenance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Field Engineer Project Engineer
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Maintenance Manager Facilities Manager
Regional Facilities Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Engineer Senior Software Engineer Technical Manager
Technical Operations Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Service Manager Delivery Driver Service Technician
Technical Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Hvac Technician 4.0 years
Hvac Mechanic 3.9 years
Hvac-R Technician 3.9 years
Hvac Specialist 3.8 years
Heating Technician 3.1 years
AC Technician 2.9 years
Hvac Installer 2.7 years
Hvac Apprentice 1.6 years
Top Careers Before Hvac Technician
Technician 8.9%
Installer 3.5%
Supervisor 3.1%
Mechanic 2.9%
Owner 2.7%
Manager 2.5%
Top Careers After Hvac Technician
Technician 8.8%
Owner 3.9%
Supervisor 2.9%
Engineer 2.3%

Do you work as a Hvac Technician?

Hvac Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

95.0%

Female

3.6%

Unknown

1.4%
Ethnicity

White

60.9%

Hispanic or Latino

17.2%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

47.9%

Carrier

28.4%

French

4.3%

Russian

2.8%

Romanian

1.4%

Hindi

1.4%

Filipino

1.4%

Chinese

1.4%

German

1.4%

Arabic

1.4%

Vietnamese

0.9%

Mandarin

0.9%

Hmong

0.9%

Korean

0.9%

Ukrainian

0.9%

Italian

0.9%

Urdu

0.9%

Cherokee

0.5%

Zulu

0.5%

Bosnian

0.5%
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Hvac Technician Education

Schools

Lincoln Technical Institute

11.4%

Ferris State University

11.0%

Universal Technical Institute

8.4%

Refrigeration School Inc

7.3%

Community College of the Air Force

6.6%

University of Phoenix

6.0%

Northern Virginia Community College

4.9%

Apex Technical School

4.2%

Everest Institute

4.0%

Pennsylvania College of Technology

3.8%

El Paso Community College

3.5%

Porter and Chester Institute

3.5%

Hudson Valley Community College

3.3%

Delta Technical College

3.3%

Liberty University

3.3%

A-Technical College

3.3%

Trident Technical College

3.1%

Technical Career Institute

3.1%

Environmental Technical Institute

2.9%

Wake Technical Community College

2.9%
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Majors

Heating And Air Conditioning

37.1%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

21.7%

Business

7.1%

Electrical Engineering Technology

6.0%

Electrical Engineering

3.7%

General Studies

3.1%

Automotive Technology

2.5%

Mechanical Engineering

2.4%

Industrial Technology

2.2%

Criminal Justice

1.7%

Engineering

1.7%

Precision Metal Working

1.4%

Computer Science

1.4%

Graphic Design

1.4%

Education

1.4%

Management

1.1%

Electrical And Power Transmission Installers

1.1%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

1.1%

Accounting

1.0%

Psychology

0.9%
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Degrees

Other

45.6%

Certificate

17.5%

Associate

17.2%

Bachelors

10.0%

Diploma

6.8%

Masters

1.5%

License

1.2%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Hvac Technician Videos

Becoming an HVAC Tech

A Day in the Life of an HVAC Tech.

Another Day in the Life of an HVAC Technician

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Real Hvac Technician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Hvac Technician SILA Heating & Air Conditioning White Plains, NY Sep 20, 2016 $74,344 -
$71,344
Hvac Service Technician Janal Heating & Air Conditioning Mountain View, CA Apr 16, 2015 $64,043
Hvac Technician Island Energy Inc. Vineyard Haven, MA Nov 29, 2016 $55,869
Lead Hvac Service Technician Star Service Inc. of Mobile Mobile, AL Mar 15, 2010 $53,040
Lead Hvac Service Technician Star Service Inc. of Mobile Selma, AL Mar 15, 2010 $53,040
Hvac Technician Island Energy Inc. MA Jul 05, 2016 $51,528
Hvac Technician S and S Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning LLC Linden, NJ Jan 26, 2010 $50,318
Hvac Technician HVAC Mechanical Maintenance Co., Inc. Vienna, VA Apr 14, 2009 $45,822

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Top Skills for A Hvac Technician

  1. Package Units
  2. Hvac
  3. Air-Conditioning Systems
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Maintained and serviced HVAC equipment including small residential, split systems and package units up to and including 25 tons.
  • Serviced and maintained HVAC units for residents as needed by replacing filters, cleaning and examining units for any needed repairs.
  • Examine heating, refrigeration and air-conditioning systems for signs of defects or malfunction Serviced electrical, and mechanical controls.
  • Inspected HVAC systems and their components for the purpose of evaluating condition, identifying necessary repairs and recommending preventative maintenance.
  • Repair and troubleshooting to chillers, cooling tower, reheat water pumps, chilled water pumps and cooling tower water pumps.

What is it like to work as a Hvac Technician

4.0

Good job. Pay getting bad.

March 21, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Hvac Technician.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Hvac Technician?

Love the constant change and challenge of the work. Being outside and on the go instead of in a building or office all day... Show More

What do you NOT like?

As minimum wage increases and prices increase, the wages are not changing for the Technicians already in the field. New come in at a higher rate and as a result the more experienced people are losing money... Show More

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Top 10 Best States for Hvac Technicians

  1. Alaska
  2. North Dakota
  3. Connecticut
  4. Nevada
  5. Iowa
  6. District of Columbia
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Illinois
  9. New Jersey
  10. Wisconsin
  • (50 jobs)
  • (129 jobs)
  • (260 jobs)
  • (175 jobs)
  • (385 jobs)
  • (43 jobs)
  • (489 jobs)
  • (672 jobs)
  • (550 jobs)
  • (419 jobs)

Top Hvac Technician Employers

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Jobs From Top Hvac Technician Employers

Hvac Technician Videos

Becoming an HVAC Tech

A Day in the Life of an HVAC Tech.

Another Day in the Life of an HVAC Technician

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