Career Definition for a Furnace Repair Technician
Furnaces are the workhorses of a home or other structure and are typically overlooked until problems arise, making life miserable for owners. Furnace repair technicians return a furnace to normal function by interpreting the data from diagnostic tools, such as voltmeters and combustion analyzers, and adjusting system controls accordingly. Fuel requirements for furnaces have evolved over time, and they burn either natural gas, fuel oil, coal, or wood. Furnace repair technicians must be familiar with the specific needs of each, according to Trane (www.trane.com), a leading furnace manufacturer.
|Education||HVAC certification program, apprenticeship, on-the-job training|
|Job Skills||Mechanical aptitude, problem solving and communication skills|
|Median Salary (2017)||$47,080* per year (heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)||15%* (much faster than average) (heating, air conditioning, refrigeration mechanics and installers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
While some furnace repair technicians learn their skills on the job, employers prefer to hire those who have completed a certified heating, ventilation, air conditioning and cooling (HVAC) program, due to the increasing sophistication of furnaces today. Programs range from six months to two years in length, depending upon the desired specialty and the certificate or degree conferred. Students begin by learning the theory of temperature control, heat distribution, and equipment design, and progress to hands-on repair using various devices. Students are also schooled in environmental laws and compliance. After completing an HVAC program, students typically complete a 6-12 month apprenticeship in the field.
Furnace repair technicians should have problem-solving skills and be adept with a variety of tools, particularly measurement gauges. Furnace malfunctions are disruptive and unsettling, causing their owners to sometimes take their frustrations out, ironically, on the person who can repair the problem. Furnace repair technicians should be sympathetic and be able to convey complex repair information in an understandable and reassuring manner to home and business owners.
Career and Economic Outlook
Employment for all HVAC mechanics, including furnace repair technicians, is projected to increase by about 15% from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average expected for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), (www.bls.gov). Concern for the environment has prompted the development of new energy-saving systems, and furnace repair technicians skilled in keeping them in good working order will be in demand. The median annual salary for HVAC mechanics was $47,080 in May 2017, per the BLS.
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Alternate Career Options
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Home Appliance Repairer
Home appliance repairers service appliances in customers' homes and businesses. They use diagnostic tools and instruments to determine why a broken appliance isn't working, estimate the costs to fix it, and carry out the work to get the appliance running again. In addition to on-the-job training, some home appliance repairers attend company-sponsored seminars and courses to learn how to repair certain manufacturer's appliances. Aspiring home appliance repairers can also find related post-secondary education programs. Any repairer who works with refrigerants is required to hold Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) licensing; voluntary professional certifications are also available. Possession of a driver's license is essential because most repair jobs are done on-site at the customer's residence or place of business. The BLS reports that job growth for home appliance repairers is expected to decline 4% from 2016-2026. Workers in this field earned median pay of $38,160 in May of 2017, according to the BLS.
Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical systems for residential and commercial customers. They may put electrical systems in new constructions according to blueprints or troubleshoot problems in existing systems, making repairs or replacements of parts as needed using special instruments and tools. Electricians perform their work according to the standards of the National Electric Code, as well as any applicable state or local regulations. Aspiring electricians with a high school diploma can complete a 4-year apprenticeship; those who complete a related post-secondary education program can get that time spent counted toward the apprenticeship requirements. State licensing is required. Electricians can expect job growth of 9% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. The agency also reports that electricians earned median pay of $54,110 in 2017.