What is an HVAC Technician?

July 8, 2021

Before we answer this question, let’s first understand what is HVAC and what does it stand for?

HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. It is a system that regulates indoor temperature, air quality, and humidity to ensure comfort and a healthy environment within residential, commercial, and industrial spaces.

The heating component warms the air during cold weather, the ventilation component circulates and replenishes fresh air, and the air conditioning component cools and dehumidifies the air during hot weather.

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.

Now, let’s address the question at hand: What is an HVAC Technician? The skilled individuals operating in this field are known as HVAC technicians or HVAC techs. In certain instances, these professionals are also responsible for installing and maintaining refrigeration units, earning them the title of HVACR or HVAC/R technicians.

What Do HVAC Technicians Do?

The role of an HVAC technician encompasses a diverse range of responsibilities. These professionals are primarily tasked with installing, repairing, and maintaining heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems.

HVAC technicians are skilled in inspecting and diagnosing equipment, troubleshooting issues, performing repairs or replacements of faulty components, and ensuring the overall functionality and efficiency of HVAC systems.

Additionally, they may be involved in routine maintenance, system tests, calibrating controls, and advising clients on energy-efficient practices. With their expertise, HVAC technicians are crucial in creating and maintaining comfortable and well-regulated indoor environments.

Job Description

The job description of an HVAC technician encompasses a wide range of responsibilities related to heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems.

Here are some key aspects of their role:


HVAC technicians install various HVAC equipment and commercial refrigeration systems, including furnaces, heating and air conditioning systems, heat pumps, ventilation systems, and refrigeration units. They follow blueprints, specifications, and manufacturer instructions to ensure proper installation.

Repairs and Maintenance

HVAC technicians diagnose, troubleshoot, and repair malfunctions or issues in HVAC systems. They conduct inspections, identify faulty components, and perform necessary repairs or replacements to restore optimal functionality. Regular maintenance tasks such as cleaning coils, lubricating parts, and inspecting electrical connections are also part of their responsibilities.

System Testing and Performance Evaluation

HVAC technicians perform tests and measurements to assess the performance of HVAC systems. They use specialized tools to check airflow, temperature, pressure, and refrigerant levels. Based on the results, they make adjustments or recommendations to improve efficiency and performance.

Customer Service

HVAC technicians interact with clients, providing guidance and answering questions about HVAC systems. They may advise on energy-efficient practices, recommend suitable equipment upgrades, and explain maintenance procedures to ensure longevity and optimal performance.

Safety and Compliance

HVAC technicians adhere to safety guidelines and industry regulations to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of clients and the environment. They handle refrigerants responsibly, follow electrical codes, and maintain a clean and organized work environment.

Documentation and Reporting

HVAC technicians maintain work records, including service reports, maintenance logs, and equipment inventory. Accurate documentation helps track repairs, identify recurring issues, and facilitate future maintenance or upgrades.

Working Conditions of an HVAC Technician

HVAC technicians work in various environments, such as residential, commercial, and industrial settings. An HVAC technician’s job can be physically demanding, requiring lifting, climbing, and working in tight spaces. They may be exposed to different weather conditions while working outdoors.

Safety precautions and protective gear are necessary due to potential occupational safety hazards from electrical systems and refrigerants. Travel to job sites is often required, and work schedules may include evenings, weekends, and on-call shifts. HVAC technicians may work independently or as part of a team, interacting with clients and collaborating with other professionals.

How to Become an HVAC Technician?

Thanks to the nature of the job, HVAC technicians are in great demand across the globe. Because of the particular 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 an excellent time to enter this industry with a suitable 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. Starting with an HVAC degree is possible, but there are better routes to becoming a professional HVAC service technician.

We recommend signing up for a full-time HVAC training program to learn the ropes like any other profession. Education is essential to understanding refrigeration, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning fundamentals and nuances.

An associate degree in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration gives you a solid foundation. You can gain theoretical knowledge and practical training to develop the critical skills needed as a full-time HVAC technician.

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). Know more about How to get HVAC Certified.

HVAC Apprenticeships

Look for apprenticeship programs offered by HVAC contractors, trade unions, or industry organizations. These programs combine classroom instruction with hands-on training, allowing you to work alongside experienced professionals and develop practical skills. For instance, various local associations (the Air Conditioning Contractors of America or the Associated Builders and Contractors) offer HVAC apprenticeship program opportunities.

Apprenticeships typically last 3-5 years, during which you’ll receive a stipend or hourly wage while learning the trade. It’s an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience, refine your skills, and build a network in the industry.

HVAC Licensing Requirements

Familiarize yourself with the licensing requirements specific to your location, as they vary by state or country. Some areas may require HVAC technicians to hold a license or certification to work independently or handle specific tasks.

Prepare for and take HVAC certification exams, such as those offered by organizations like North American Technician Excellence (NATE) or the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES). These certifications validate your knowledge and skills in specific areas of HVAC systems.

Stay updated with industry trends, technologies, and regulations through ongoing training and continuing education. This ensures you remain competitive and maintain your professional credentials.

The Pros of an HVAC Career

  • High Demand: HVAC technicians are in high demand, as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems are essential in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. The ongoing need for installation, maintenance, and repairs ensures job opportunities.
    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers make $23.38 per hour (average median income) or $48,630 annually. With substantial work experience, you can command a better wage.
  • Job Stability: The HVAC industry offers job stability due to the constant need for HVAC services. As long as buildings require climate control systems, there will be a demand for skilled technicians to install, maintain, and repair them.
  • Competitive Salary: HVAC technicians often enjoy competitive salaries, especially as they gain experience and expertise. Skilled technicians with certifications and specialized knowledge can command higher wages and better job prospects.
  • Variety of Work Environments: HVAC technicians work in a range of environments, from residential homes to large office buildings. This diversity adds excitement and the opportunity to work on different types of systems, ensuring a varied and engaging career.
  • Problem-Solving Opportunities: HVAC technicians face various challenges and problem-solving opportunities daily. Troubleshooting and diagnosing issues with HVAC systems require critical thinking and the ability to find efficient solutions, making the work intellectually stimulating.
  • Opportunities for Advancement: With experience and additional training, HVAC technicians can advance in their careers. They may take on leadership roles, move into project management, or specialize in energy efficiency, system design, or sustainable HVAC technologies.

Cons of Working as an HVAC Technician

  • Physical Demands: The job can be physically demanding, involving lifting heavy equipment, climbing ladders, and working in confined spaces. HVAC technicians must be physically fit and prepared for the physical exertion required in the field.
  • Time-Pressure and Urgency: HVAC technicians often work under time pressure, especially when responding to emergency service calls. The need to quickly diagnose and resolve issues can be stressful, requiring the ability to work efficiently and effectively in high-pressure situations.
    HVAC technicians may have irregular work schedules, including evenings, weekends, and on-call shifts. They must be prepared to respond to emergency calls or work during non-traditional hours to meet client needs.
  • Continuous Learning and Adaptation: The HVAC industry is constantly evolving, with new technologies and regulations emerging. HVAC techs must commit to ongoing learning and professional development to stay up-to-date with industry trends and maintain their skills.

Despite the challenges, many HVAC professionals find the rewards and opportunities for growth in the industry to outweigh the drawbacks. An HVAC career can be fulfilling and financially rewarding with the right skills, dedication, and adaptability.


Skills and Competencies

Besides overseeing the installation of heating systems, air conditioners, cooling systems, and residential and commercial refrigeration units, testing HVAC systems and components in a lab setting, and understanding and working with electrical circuits, wiring, and HVAC components, which constitute the practical aspects of the job, here are few of the skills and competencies required to be a successful HVAC technician:

  • Strong technical knowledge of HVAC units, electrical components, and controls
  • Mechanical aptitude and proficiency in using tools and equipment
  • Problem-solving skills and ability to analyze and resolve issues efficiently
  • Attention to detail in following specifications and safety guidelines
  • Excellent customer service and communication skills
  • Effective time management for completing tasks and responding to emergencies
  • Adaptability to learn new skills and keep up with industry advancements
  • Strong commitment to safety and adherence to safety protocols
  • Ability to work well in teams and collaborate with colleagues and contractors
  • Professionalism, integrity, and ethical conduct in all work interactions.

Ready to start your career journey as an HVAC tech? Consider enrolling in the associate degree program offered by the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT).

Our program provides a well-rounded education that covers various aspects of HVAC techniques, electrical components, refrigeration, and troubleshooting techniques.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by requesting more information. Start your journey toward a successful HVAC career now!


Earn your degree in HVAC from NEIT and begin your new career path today!



What are the education requirements to become an HVAC technician?

The education requirements to become an HVAC technician typically include a high school diploma or equivalent. However, many aspiring HVAC techs pursue further education by completing a certificate or associate degree program in HVAC technology or a related field.

These programs provide comprehensive training in HVAC techniques, electrical components, refrigeration, and troubleshooting the various heating and cooling systems, preparing individuals for a successful career in the industry.

What types of courses are included in an HVAC technician degree program?

An HVAC technician degree program typically includes a variety of courses that cover essential knowledge and skills needed in the field. These courses may include:

  • HVAC Fundamentals
  • Electrical Systems
  • HVAC System Design
  • Heating Systems
  • Air Conditioning Systems
  • Refrigeration Principles
  • Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
  • System Controls and Automation
  • HVAC Troubleshooting and Maintenance:
  • Building Codes and Regulations

Is there a certification or licensing exam required to become an HVAC technician?

To become an HVAC technician, certification and licensing exams are often required in many regions. Specific requirements vary, so research local regulations. Organizations like NATE and RSES offer standard exams assessing knowledge and competence in HVAC systems. Some regions may require HVAC techs to obtain a license or meet specific requirements to work independently. Complying with certification and licensing is essential for a successful HVAC career.

Do I Need to Do an HVAC Apprenticeship?

While it is not always mandatory, an HVAC apprenticeship can benefit aspiring HVAC techs. Apprenticeships provide a valuable opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced professionals. By working alongside seasoned technicians, apprentices can learn essential skills, gain industry knowledge, and develop a strong foundation in HVAC systems.

How long does it take to become an HVAC technician? 

If you are looking for an HVAC program, a typical degree takes two to three years at most community colleges or trade schools. However, you can complete NEIT’s associate degree in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration in as little as 18 months.