Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians are responsible for installing, maintaining and repairing systems in commercial buildings and residential homes. Read on to learn more about areas of specialization, earnings, job growth and training for HVAC technicians.
Professionals who install, fix and perform routine maintenance on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems are usually referred to as HVAC technicians. HVAC technicians who also work on refrigeration systems are known as HVACR technicians. As an HVAC technician or mechanic, you can work directly for local businesses, hospitals and other large organizations, or you may be employed by HVAC contractors and make service calls to residential and commercial buildings.
As a qualified graduate of an apprenticeship or formal training program, you could choose to work as a general HVAC technician or specialize in a single area, such as installation, heating or refrigeration. You could also become an air-conditioning, heating or refrigeration mechanic, or work as an appliance repair technician. Depending on your training and experience, you might also qualify for a position as a manufacturer's representative, plant maintenance technician or refrigeration and air-conditioning contractor.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers was expected to increase 21%, or faster than average, from 2012-2022. In May 2013, professionals employed in the field earned an average annual salary of $46,110, noted the BLS (www.bls.gov).
HVAC training programs can be found at trade schools, technical colleges and some universities. While most programs are available at the certificate level, some schools might allow you to transfer your certificate credits to an associate degree program in HVAC or a bachelor's degree program in HVAC. These are hands-on courses of study that teach you how to service and test HVAC systems in residential and commercial structures. In particular, you'll learn about heat pumps, furnace types, air-conditioning units and electrical systems; the planning and design of different HVAC systems might also be covered.
Some states require HVAC technicians to have a professional certification or certificate. Although each state has its own licensing requirements, you might need to complete a formal apprenticeship program and pass a test. A state certification is also required if you want to buy or use refrigerants, which requires a passing score on a written exam.