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Air Conditioning Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an air conditioning technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training programs, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

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Air conditioning technicians work in industrial, commercial and residential settings installing, repairing and maintaining HVAC systems. These positions require only a high school diploma, but many employers prefer those who have completed a training program or apprenticeship. Certification and licensure may be required in this field.

Essential Information

Air conditioning technicians may sometimes be referred to as HVACR technicians and are responsible for installing, maintaining and repairing heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems. These professionals work in industrial, residential and commercial settings.

Required Education Trade School/Community College
Other Requirements Apprenticeship or on-the-job training; Certification and licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-24) 14% for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $47,380 for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Education Requirements

Although air conditioning technicians can learn the skills needed for their trade on-the-job, many employers prefer to hire those who have completed a formal training program. Training programs last from six months to two years and may be found in trade schools and community colleges. Students enrolled in these programs learn about equipment design and construction, electronics, temperature control, installation, maintenance and repair.

Another training option is to complete an apprenticeship, which involves a combination of paid on-the-job training and classroom instruction. Formal apprenticeship programs typically last between three and five years. Apprentices learn about care and use of tools, blueprint reading and safety practices, as well as legislation and regulations regarding refrigerant products. They also learn about the theory and design of air conditioning, heating, refrigeration and ventilation systems.

Some states require that air conditioning technicians pass a test and gain licensure. Work experience and completion of an apprenticeship program may also be required. Air conditioning technicians must also be certified in the proper handling of refrigerants by passing a written examination. A number of other different certifications and licenses may be earned to signify competency in handling different types of equipment, such as a high-pressure boiler operator's license, natural gas certification and oil burner license.

Job Duties

Some typical job duties of air conditioning technicians include reviewing blueprints, installing air conditioning systems, testing systems for proper functioning, performing emergency repairs, maintaining tools, ordering supplies, and making routine adjustments to maximize operational efficiency. They may also record data when inspecting systems, such as temperature of equipment, fuel consumption and hours of operation. Air conditioning technicians must recover and properly dispose of refrigerants when servicing air conditioning equipment since refrigerants can be harmful to the environment. They may also sell service contracts to clients in order to ensure long-term client relationships.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Due to an increase in the number of residential and commercial buildings being built, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated that jobs for HVACR mechanics and installers would increase 14% during the 2014-2024 decade. The mean annual salary of these workers was $47,380 as of May 2015, according to BLS reports.

Air conditioning technicians can receive training through a community college, trade school or apprenticeship program. Some states require licensing and certification of air conditioning technicians. The average annual salary for these workers is about $47,000.

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