Training and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||240,480|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||4.4%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||13,760|
- Certificates and associate degree programs from community colleges and technical schools can be valuable in gaining employment.
- Many employers prefer candidates with a certificate or degree or that are from a formal apprenticeship.
- Many of the programs provide traditional classroom learning and computer-simulated and hands-on practical learning.
- HVAC training programs take from six months to two years to complete.
HVAC apprentice programs typically last from three to five years. Apprenticeship programs are often operated by joint committees representing local chapters of various organizations.
What you study:
- Automated HVAC controls
- Motors and motor controls
- HVAC system maintenance
- Cold water air conditioners and domestic appliances
- Electricity basics
- Installation of HVAC systems
- Air quality problem solving
- Industrial and commercial refrigeration systems
A quick intro of the work of HVAC techs. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
HVAC technicians install, maintain and repair heating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Many HVAC technicians have the opportunity to specialize in installation or in maintenance and repair. They can also specialize in heating, air conditioning or refrigeration.
A typical day depends on your specialty. An HVAC technician may test components and electrical circuits with electrical test equipment, repair or replace defective equipment wiring or components. HVAC technicians also regularly test and check installed equipment to ensure the equipment meets safety codes and regulations.
At the beginning of the day most HVAC technicians don't know all the tasks there going to perform or all their work locations. As a HVAC technician you'll typically solve a variety of problems and meet new people. You'll work with different types of people on a daily basis.
One of the perks of the job is the fast pace during busy times helps the work days pass quickly; boredom is rare for this occupation. You don't have to perform repetitious tedious tasks all day long. The job also provides a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis.
As a HVAC technician you may work in uncomfortable cold or hot conditions. You'll need to take safety precautions to avoid injuries. You may repair and/or install systems in factories, businesses and homes during a day.
Certifications and Licensing
In some states and localities HVAC technicians must be licensed. Also, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all technicians who purchase or work with refrigerants to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. Numerous trade schools, employer associations and unions provide training programs designed for the EPA exam.
HVAC technicians who complete relevant coursework and have less than two years of experience are eligible to take "entry-level" certification exams. Those with at least one year of installation experience and two years of maintenance and repair experience can take specialized exams.
Numerous organizations provide certification exams which can be taken at technical schools. Certifications show a technician has specific competencies. Some employers look for industry-certified HVACR technicians.
Full-time versus part-time: HVACR technicians typically work 40 hours per week and may occasionally work evening or weekend shifts. During peak seasons they may work overtime and irregular hours. Only about four percent of the technicians work less than full-time. Some HVAC technicians are self-employed.
Work location: Depending on the company they work for, HVAC technicians they may work in homes, offices, schools, hospitals, stores, factories, shopping malls and other locations. They often travel to several locations during a day making service calls. HVAC technicians typically work indoors but sometimes they may work outdoors on heat pumps and other type of equipment.
- The Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) provides certification programs along with useful information about the programs. The General Operations Manual for AHRI Certification Programs covers the procedures and policies common to all AHRI Product Performance Certification Programs. Product specific operations manuals are available for every certification program. The website also provides a variety of useful resources.
- Air Conditioning Contractors of America provides information about education events and online learning. The website also provides information about certification programs and apprenticeship programs.
- HVAC Excellence a not-for-profit organization improves competency through validation of the technical education process. HVAC Excellence sets standards and insures they've been met. HVAC Excellence Programs discover areas of weakness in education. The organization also helps employers hire competent technicians. HVAC Excellence also provides two technician certifications.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook -- Produced by the US Department of Labor, this article on HVAC tech careers is comprehensive with various statistics and text-book like descriptions.