HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) technicians are trained professionals who work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control air quality and temperature in buildings.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the main duties of HVAC technicians also referred to as Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (HVACR), are as follows:
- “Install, clean, and maintain HVACR systems
- Install electrical components and wiring
- Inspect and test HVACR systems and components
- Discuss system malfunctions with customers
- Repair or replace worn or defective parts
- Recommend maintenance to improve system performance
- Keep records of work performed”
HVAC systems control humidity, temperature and overall air quality in various structures, such as homes, offices and other buildings. HVAC technicians are required to understand the individual needs of these systems and how to install them in accordance with the relevant government regulations.
If you are interested in this field, you might want to learn about becoming a HVAC technician in 5 steps, as listed below:
How to Become an HVAC Technician in 5 Steps
Even though HVAC installation and repairing is a technical job, it does not require a college degree. Therefore, those looking for careers with low barriers to entry might want to consider becoming HVAC technicians.
Step 1: Get a High School Diploma or Equivalent
This is the minimum level of education that is required to be eligible for HVAC programs. High school students can get a head start in their HVAC training by taking courses in math, vocational education and physics. Students are recommended to complete shop courses in plumbing, electrical work and basic electronics.
Step 2: Complete a Training Program
HVAC technicians are required to receive postsecondary training from technical and trade schools or community colleges. There are numerous institutes across the US that offer programs in heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems. These programs typically last 6 months to 2 years and can lead to a certificate or an associate’s degree.
Step 3: Get Some Experience
Newly graduated HVAC technicians start off by working under the supervision of experienced technicians. They learn the basics such as cleaning furnaces or insulating. That is followed by performing more difficult and technical tasks, such as cutting and soldering pipes and checking electrical circuitry.
This experience requirement can also be fulfilled by enrolling in an apprenticeship program, which typically lasts 3 to 5 years. During the apprenticeship, technicians are taught about safety practices, correct usage of industrial tools, blueprint reading and the inner workings of various heating and cooling system components. Apprenticeship requirements may vary from state to state. In some cases, contractor associations or unions may sponsor apprenticeship programs.
Step 4: Get Your Certification and License
All technicians who buy, sell, work with or handle any kind of refrigerants need to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. Many schools and training institutes offer programs that prepare students for the EPA certification exam. In addition to certification requirements, some states also require HVACR technicians to be licensed. You are advised to check with your local authorities for more details on this.
Step 5: Continue Your Education
To advance in your career as an HVAC technician, you are advised to opt for additional degree programs. HVAC technicians can pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree or can complete multiple certifications to add to their credentials. Additional credentials can be in dealing with heat pump pool heaters, commercial furnaces, residential boilers or unit ventilators, among other equipment. A bachelor’s degree can add skills in control theory, hydronic system design, commercial HVAC system design, contracting issues and energy and audit analysis.
How Much Can I Make as an HVAC Technician?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers made $47,610 in 2018 in annual median wages. The top-paying industry for these professionals was wholesale trade, which paid an annual median income of $51,050 in 2018.
Job Growth for HVAC Technicians
As per data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for HVACR Technicians are expected to grow by 13%, in the years from 2018 to 2028, creating 46,300 new jobs. The growth rate for HVACR technicians is much higher than the average for all occupations, which is at 5%.