Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) technician is one of the top vocational career choices in the United States. HVAC certification courses will give you the skills and knowledge you will need to be successful. HVAC technicians work on ventilation, heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the air quality and temperature in buildings. They work in a variety of different environments. HVAC technician salary is competitive and the future job outlook is very good.
On-the-job training was very common for this career path. But, because HVAC systems are becoming increasingly complex, many people are choosing to complete an HVAC certification course.
Career at a Glance
|2015 Median Pay||$45,110 per year
$21.69 per hour
|Typical Entry-Level Education||Postsecondary nondegree award|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|On-the-job Training||Long-term on the job training|
|Number of Jobs, 2014||292,000|
|Job Outlook, 2014-24||14% (Much faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2014-24||39,600|
Duties and Responsibilities
HVAC certification courses teach students how to carry out complex tasks. Common HVAC technician duties and responsibilities include:
- Use design specifications or blueprints to repair or install HVAC systems.
- Install controls and electrical wiring and test everything works properly.
- Connect systems to air ducts, water and fuel supply lines, and other components.
- Test individual components to determine if repairs are needed.
- Maintain and inspect customers HVAC systems.
- Replace or repair defective or worn parts.
- Determine HVAC system’s efficiency and make recommendations to improve performance.
HVAC Certification and Training
Many students apply to an HVAC certification program. With an HVAC technician certification, you could begin working within 6 months!
It is becoming less common, but some HVAC technicians learn their skills exclusively with on-the-job training. Many techs begin by helping experienced technicians with basic tasks, such as cleaning furnaces or insulating refrigerant lines. As they progress, they move on to more difficult tasks, including checking electrical circuits or soldering and cutting pipes.
Some HVAC technicians complete an apprenticeship program instead of attending an HVAC certification course. This takes much longer, usually 3-5 years. Each year an apprentice must complete at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. They must also complete a minimum of 144 hours of technical education. During the apprenticeship, technicians learn blueprint reading, safety practices, and how to use tools. They also learn about the various systems that cool and heat buildings. These are the requirements to enter an HVAC apprenticeship program:
- 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
Certifications, Licenses, and Registration
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all HVAC technicians who handle, buy, or work with refrigerants to be certified. To become certified, technicians must pass a written exam based on the area they want to specialize in: Type I—small appliances; Type II—high-pressure refrigerants; and Type III—low-pressure refrigerants. Many unions, trade schools, and employer associations deliver training programs designed to prepare students for the EPA exam.
HVAC Technician Salary
Apprentices usually earn about half that of an experienced technician. As they learn more and have more responsibilities, they receive salary increases.
Most technicians that complete the HVAC certification program end up working full time. HVAC technicians occasionally work evening or weekend shifts. During peak seasons (hot summer and cold winter) technicians may work overtime due to the increased demand and repair needs.
HVAC Technician Jobs
The BLS has projected HVAC technician jobs will grow by 14% over the next ten years. This growth is expected to create more than 39,000 new HVAC technician jobs by 2024. Now is the perfect time to search for HVAC certification course and enroll!
HVAC technician job opportunities are expected to be excellent. Especially for those who have completed an HVAC certification program or through an apprenticeship. Candidates with exceptional technical and troubleshooting skills will have the best opportunities. Employers are having more and more difficulty finding qualified technicians to maintain, install, and repair complex new systems.
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers held about 292,000 jobs in 2014, of which 63 percent were in the plumbing, heating, and air conditioning contractors industry. About 1 in 10 were self-employed in 2014.
HVACR technicians work mostly in homes, schools, stores, hospitals, office buildings, or factories. Some technicians are assigned to specific jobsites at the beginning of each day. Others travel to several different locations, making service calls.
Customer-service skills. HVAC technicians often work in business offices or customers’ homes. It is important they are punctual, friendly, and polite. Sometimes repair technicians have to deal with unhappy customers whose air conditioning or heating isn’t working.
Detail oriented. HVAC technicians must maintain clear records of all work. These records usually include the time the work took place, the nature of the work, and a list of parts and equipment that were used.
Math skills. Technicians need to be able to calculate correct load requirements. This ensures that equipment properly cools or heats the required space.
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. HVAC technicians could spend long hours standing and walking. The continuous physical activity can be tiresome.
Physical strength. HVAC technicians may have to support and lift heavy components and equipment.
Time-management skills. HVAC techs regularly manage daily maintenance calls. They should be able to complete all necessary tasks or repairs while keeping on schedule.
Troubleshooting skills. HVAC certification courses will teach technicians to identify problems on malfunctioning air conditions, heating, and refrigeration systems, and then determine the best way to repair or replace them.