Learning to install and maintain air conditioning systems calls for specialized training and, in some cases, state or EPA licensure. However, it doesn't look like the call for qualified air conditioning mechanics will be slowing down any time soon.
Air conditioning equipment mechanics service air conditioning systems. They may work for manufacturers, contractors, service and repair shops, the government, large organizations or themselves. They install systems, including the main equipment, ducts, vents, thermostats or other parts.
|Required Education||Vocational training|
|Other Requirements||EPA licensing and/or state licensing may be required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||14%*|
|Mean Salary (2015)||$47,380*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
During the winter when air conditioning is not being used, mechanics perform inspections and routine maintenance on systems. When a problem arises, mechanics perform repairs and conduct follow-up testing.
Mechanics may have to work in very hot or uncomfortable environments to fix or install equipment. They may have to travel to different locations to provide service for clients. Although their work hours may increase during hotter season, most mechanics work a steady number of hours throughout the year. This is due to year-round service contracts required by manufacturers and contractors.
Requirements for Air Conditioning Equipment Mechanics
Although air conditioning equipment mechanics may receive training on the job, many employers prefer workers with some formal training. High schools may offer courses that are relevant to the industry, such as electronics, blueprint reading, basic math and science courses. Technical schools and junior colleges offer certificate and associate's degree programs in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration or air conditioning technology. These programs can take anywhere from six months to two years to complete.
Apprenticeships are another way to gain experience in the field. Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), in conjunction with local schools and employers, has developed apprenticeship programs that may last from 3-5 years.
Some states require air conditioning equipment mechanics to be licensed. Licensing requirements usually include passing a written exam and sometimes completing an apprenticeship or its equivalent in job experience. Mechanics who handle refrigerants must also receive certification under the Clean Air Act.
There are other certifications that may also be beneficial for air conditioning equipment mechanics. North American Technician Excellence (NATE) administers 21 certification exams. Relevant certification exams include air conditioning installation air distribution installation and air conditioning service.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job openings for HVACR technicians will increase by 14% from 2014-2024, which is a much faster rate than average. The mean annual salary for these workers in 2015 was $47,380, according to the BLS, with the field's highest 10% making almost $71,690 per year or more.
Employment opportunities for air conditioning mechanics through 2014 are expected to increase at a much faster rate than the national average for all occupations. To train for a career in this field, you may find some relevant high school courses offered, while technical schools and community colleges offer certificate and degree programs that take 6-24 months to complete. Apprenticeships, meanwhile, can last 3-5 years. Professional certifications are available and can work to your benefit.