HVAC systems are the lifeblood of any indoor setting, whether you talk about homes, grocery stores, malls, offices, manufacturing facilities, airports, or hotels. Every commercial and residential property requires a solid HVAC system to ensure excellent air quality and effective heating and cooling.
What is HVAC and What Does It Stand For?
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning are collectively referred to as HVAC, and the professionals who work in this industry are called HVAC technicians or HVAC tech. Sometimes, the installation and upkeep of refrigeration units are also taken care of by these pros, in which case they are called HVACR or HVAC/R technicians.
What Does an HVAC Technician Do?
Typically, an HVAC technician is responsible for:
Testing various types of units, components, and electrical circuits to ensure they are fit for installation in a residential or commercial setting.
Installing climate control systems, heating and air conditioning systems, and refrigeration systems across residential and commercial projects.
Maintenance and Servicing
Ensuring the frequent maintenance and servicing of the installed HVACR units by visiting the sites.
Troubleshooting and Repair Work
Answering customer calls, identifying snags or glitches in the HVAC equipment, and resolving common HVAC issues.
Gauging the need to replace any HVAC parts or convincing the customer to buy a new HVAC system.
As mentioned above, HVAC tech or HVAC service technicians work to install, maintain, repair, or replace air conditioners, climate control systems, heating equipment, ventilation units, refrigeration equipment, and more.
Here’s a look at the various responsibilities of an HVAC technician:
- Reading blueprints and HVAC equipment specifications
- Assembling and installing HVAC/R units in residential or commercial buildings
- Cutting or drilling holes in building structures
- Installing solar panels, thermostats, humidistats, and timers
- Connecting HVAC systems to electrical, water, and fuel sources
- Ensuring that the HVAC units are working perfectly
- Testing HVAC components and systems according to the manufacturer’s specifications
- Testing piping or tubing joints for leakages
- Troubleshooting common HVAC system problems
- Cleaning and replacing air filters and other malfunctioning parts
- Inspecting, unclogging, and cleaning ducts
- Selling service contracts or AMCs for HVAC equipment maintenance or servicing
How to Become an HVAC Technician?
HVAC technicians are in great demand across the globe, thanks to the nature of the job. Because of the very specific skills and competencies that professionals in this domain require, AI and bots are less likely to replace HVAC tech jobs.
With steady job growth predicted in the foreseeable future for HVAC technicians, it is a good time to enter this industry with the right set of skills and qualifications. There are three primary ways to become qualified for the job.
While you might come across HVAC technicians who don’t have a college degree, that is not necessarily the case with all technicians in this sector. Yes, it is possible to start without an HVAC degree, but that isn’t the ideal route to becoming a professional HVAC service technician.
Like any other profession, we recommend signing up for a full-time HVAC training program to learn the ropes. Education is an essential part of learning the fundamentals and nuances of refrigeration, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.
The associate in science degree in RACH helps students understand the nitty-gritty of the subject and gain valuable practical experience in the labs. Formal training will enable you to become an entry-to-industry level tech with the perfect blend of scientific know-how and technical expertise.
And while the degree itself is a solid way to begin your journey as an HVAC service technician, employers sometimes prefer certified technicians.
Apart from learning the theory and getting hands-on training in the lab, some trade school training programs, like the one New England Institute of Technology offers, also prepare you for various HVAC certifications. Some employers or states require you to possess certifications like the North American Technical Excellence (popularly referred to as NATE).
Request more information about NEIT’s associate degree in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration now!
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An apprenticeship is also a great way to learn on the job and land rewarding gigs in the HVAC industry. Various local associations (the Air Conditioning Contractors of America or the Associated Builders and Contractors, for instance) offer HVAC apprenticeship program opportunities. These programs could last anywhere between three to five years.
Alternatively, you can find journeymen and apply for an interview with them. In some cases, it might be an unpaid internship in the beginning. However, if you prove your worth during the trial period, your employer will start paying you sooner rather than later.
HVAC Licensing Requirements
While a license isn’t mandatory, it is a strong asset to possess. Not all US states need you to have an HVAC license, but it is best to make sure which ones require you to pass a written exam.
Being a licensed HVAC technician has its own set of perks. For starters, you will invariably have a more evolved skill set compared to unlicensed HVAC techs. Moreover, it will hold you in good stead when seeking employment.
The Pros and Cons of an HVAC Career
HVAC tech is a fantastic career choice from a long-term perspective, but you should know its advantages and disadvantages before you take the plunge.
Pros Of Working as an HVAC Technician
Excellent HVAC Technician Salary and Job Outlook
Work and Live Almost Anywhere
Trade professionals and HVAC technicians work for contractors and companies that offer installation, maintenance, and repair services. All kinds of indoor settings need these systems, meaning you are likely to find employment in any corner of the country (or world).
All About Problem Solving
With an HVAC tech job, it’s difficult to get bored. Each day there would be a set of exciting challenges that need troubleshooting and problem-solving skills.
Job satisfaction is also immense. You’ll learn the value of your work when your client appreciates you for fixing the AC on a hot summer night or when you get the heat up on a cold winter morning.
HVAC professionals are necessary for life’s daily proceedings. That kind of contribution will never fail to excite you!
Cons Of Working as an HVAC Technician
Occasional Long Hours
Technicians may have to work long hours occasionally, depending on the magnitude of a project or the time required to install or troubleshoot systems.
Occupational Safety Hazards
Lifting heavy equipment, using ladders, exposure to chemicals and harsh weather conditions, working in confined spaces (inside a duct, for example), and managing installation or repair work on roofs are some of the physically challenging aspects of the job. The risk of electrocution is also not unheard of in this profession.
HVAC technicians work in a variety of settings, including residential projects (homes, residential buildings, apartments, villas, or cottages), commercial projects (malls, stores, manufacturing facilities, hotels, resorts, airports, stations, and office buildings), and sometimes in outdoor settings, too.
Whether you are a self-employed professional or working under a contractor, the job is quite dynamic and requires you to be flexible. Depending on the ongoing projects or maintenance calls, you need to visit the job site and go about your job.
Skills and Competencies
As mentioned above, you must know the theoretical and practical aspects of installing and maintaining heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. After your formal training in the subject, you should be able to:
- Oversee the installation of heating systems, air conditioners, cooling systems, and residential and commercial refrigeration units
- Assess and improve the HVAC system performance
- Conduct the testing of HVAC equipment and components in a lab setting
- Understand and work with electrical circuits, wiring, and components
- Work with customers to figure out and resolve their problems
START YOUR HVAC CAREER
Earn your degree in HVAC from NEIT and begin your new career path today!
What safety issues are of particular concern to an HVAC technician?
HVAC technicians handle powerful ventilation, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration equipment and the job comes with its own set of occupational hazards and challenges.
This includes the risk of accidents, falls, exposure to harsh chemicals, working in extreme weather conditions, fatigue, and electrocution. However, following proper security measures and HVAC safety standards will avert these risks.
How much does a self-employed HVAC tech make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual median salary for HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers is $48,730. While the wages for entry-level HVAC technicians may not be very high, you can quickly work your way up the ladder to command a higher price tag.
Is HVAC a good career?
Yes, a long-term career in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technology is rewarding in financial terms and from a job satisfaction perspective.
With quality experience and the right set of skills, you can build a solid career in the HVAC/R industry. The top 10% of this industry’s professionals earn an annual salary of over $76,230 ($36.65/hour).
How long does it take to become an HVAC technician?
If you are on the lookout for an HVAC program, a typical degree takes anywhere between two to three years to complete at most community colleges or trade schools. However, you can complete NEIT’s associate degree in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration, split into a six-quarter curriculum, in as little as 18 months.