Heating and air conditioning technicians maintain, install and repair climate-control systems in homes, businesses and industries. Trade schools and community colleges offer HVAC programs, or aspiring technicians can learn the trade while on-the-job with an experienced technician. Job prospects for candidates who have completed a training program or a formal apprenticeship are excellent. Some states require technicians to be licensed or certified.
|Required Education||Postsecondary training program or apprenticeship|
|Other Requirements||State licensure or certification|
|Projected Job Growth||21% from 2012-2022*|
|Median Salary (2012)||$44,630*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Heating and Air Conditioning Technician Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported median annual salaries for heating and air conditioning technicians, also known as HVACR (heating, air conditioning and refrigeration) technicians, of $44,630 in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). Those in the top ten percent of the salary range earned $70,820 or more during the same time. Apprentices can expect to earn about half the hourly wage paid to their more experienced co-workers, but as they gain experience and knowledge, rates will typically increase. Most technicians also receive benefits like health insurance and retirement plans, reimbursement for continued education and uniforms.
Heating and Air Conditioning Technician Career Information
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry is growing rapidly and job opportunities exist in all areas, including installation, service and sales. The BLS projected that employment of qualified technicians is expected to increase 21% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). This predicted growth is based on the need for new climate-control systems, the large number of existing systems that will need to be replaced and the increasingly complex technology of newer systems.
A successful technician will master aspects of several trades including electrical, plumbing and sheet metal. Because of the emerging technologies of climate-control systems, most employers seek job candidates who have completed technical training or a formal apprenticeship. Many trade schools, community colleges and junior colleges offer programs in heating and air conditioning technology. Course topics cover equipment design and construction, installation basics, maintenance and repair.
Apprenticeship programs offer apprentices paid on-the-job training combined with classroom instruction. Courses include blueprint reading, climate-control system theory and safe practices. Apprentices begin their education by assisting experienced technicians with simple tasks such as cleaning furnaces or carrying materials. Eventually, apprentices are given increasingly difficult tasks, according to their knowledge and ability.
Licensure and Certification
Some states require HVAC technicians to be licensed; however, requirements vary by state. Certification also demonstrates expertise in HVAC principles. North American Technician Excellence, Inc. (NATE) offers certification for HVAC technicians and many training programs are aligned with NATE testing and certification criteria. Other certifications are available including credentials for technicians who specialize in certain equipment, such as oil-burning furnaces. Obtaining certifications can give technicians an edge over other job candidates and can lead to career advancement in the form of a higher salary or positions of greater responsibility, such as service manager or supervisor.