HVAC Service Specialists: Job Outlook, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) service specialist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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HVAC service specialists are trained in the installation and maintenance of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. They are expected to be trained in reading blueprints and performing testing of ventilation systems. HVAC specialists can receive training through certificate, degree or even apprentice programs and enter a field that is rapidly growing.

Essential Information

HVAC service specialists install and/or maintain heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. Most positions in the field will require the completion of a certificate, degree or apprenticeship program, and some states require HVAC service specialists to be licensed.

Required Education Certificate, Associate Degree or Apprenticeship
Other Requirements Some states may require licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 14%* (all HVACR technicians, including refrigerator specialists)
Median Salary (2015) $45,110* (all HVACR technicians, including refrigerator specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

HVAC Service Specialist Job Duties

The BLS stated that most HVAC workers have training in both installation and maintenance, but may choose to specialize in one or the other. Installers must adhere to safety procedures to handle, remove and dispose of old equipment. They must also be able to read blueprints, perform testing on ductwork and fabricate materials to specifications. Commercial installers may work with large equipment, supervise crane lifts and organize complex ventilation systems.

Commercial and residential maintenance requires service specialists to use technical equipment to diagnose and verify that everything is running properly. Technicians may need to replace old or broken equipment and ensure materials and systems meet regulatory standards.

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Requirements to Become an HVAC Service Specialist

HVAC service specialists may obtain technical training through either a certificate, degree or apprenticeship program. Many certificate programs can be completed in 6-9 months and cover HVAC fundamentals, electrical wiring and systems maintenance. Associate degree programs take two years to complete and offer courses in mechanical refrigeration, heating systems, troubleshooting and repair. Apprenticeship programs last 3-5 years and combine on-the-job training with classroom coursework, including blueprint reading, welding and mathematics.

Some states require that HVAC service specialists obtain licensure, especially for those who handle environmentally hazardous materials, such as refrigeration coolants. Although each state has different guidelines, most require that specialists possess a certain amount of education and experience in order to qualify for the license exam. Organizations, such as the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute or the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, offer several certification options for HVAC installers, maintenance workers and service specialists to demonstrate mastery of professional skills related to the trade.

HVAC specialists perform installations and maintenance on heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. They can receive training through certificate, degree and apprenticeship programs that can take anywhere between 6 months of 5 years. Those entering this field, however, will find a growing market where they may earn a median salary of $45,110 a year.

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