HVAC technicians can count on job security and career growth, so if you like to solve mechanical problems, this job is worth a closer look. Technicians in HVAC — which stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning — install, service and repair heating and air conditioning units in residential and commercial buildings. They make sure the equipment that regulates indoor temperature, humidity and air quality is in good working order.
Also known as HVAC installers and HVAC mechanics, these technicians work on all the systems in the acronym while others specialize. (Good to know: HVAC is also sometimes written as HVAC/R to include refrigeration systems.) HVAC technicians may install and fix units, but installers typically only install them.
HVAC repairs can be considered an emergency, so technicians can expect to work at odd hours, especially during the peak heating and cooling seasons.
- Install new HVAC systems in residential and commercial buildings
- Diagnose and fix existing HVAC systems, using digital gauges and meters
- Install electrical components and wiring
- Clearly explain HVAC problems and solutions with customers
- Follow government rules on proper handling and disposal of fluids and pressurized gasses
Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent for an entry-level position. Some companies want technicians who have served an apprenticeship. Such programs generally last from six months to two years and include classes and on-the-job training. Increasingly, companies also look for candidates who have completed a trade school program, which lasts from 18-24 months.
Requirements for certification and licensing vary by state. Technicians who work with refrigerants must pass an EPA certification exam. Advanced certification is not typically required but may provide new employment opportunities. Multiple certifications exist through manufacturers and trade organizations. Employers often prefer candidates with a clean driving record.
- Have good problem-solving and diagnostic skills
- Have good dexterity
- Possess the physical strength to move heavy equipment
- Possess the physical stamina to work in extreme temperatures and to stand or crouch for long periods
- Have excellent communication and customer service skills
- Are mathematically and mechanically inclined
- Have good interpersonal skills