HVAC Systems Technician: Job Description & Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a HVAC technician. 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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In 2014-2024, HVAC technician job opportunities are projected to increase at a much faster than the average of all occupations, so a career in the HVAC field might show some promise for you. There are at least two training pathways to entering the HVA technician occupation.

Essential Information

HVAC systems technicians help maintain climate-controlled environments in buildings by keeping the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems running smoothly and efficiently. They need to be in good physical shape to perform their job duties and should ideally be skilled in dealing with the public. HVAC technicians typically have some postsecondary training and may need to be licensed.

Required Education Postsecondary education or apprenticeship
Other Requirements Licensure and/or certification
Projected Job Growth 14% between 2014 and 2024*
Average Salary (2015) $47,380*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of an HVAC Systems Technician

HVAC systems technicians' duties are primarily the installation and service of HVAC systems in commercial buildings and residential homes. This generally includes inspection, maintenance, repair and testing duties. Technicians may work on either new or existing HVAC systems, and they may specialize in one kind of HVAC system, such as heating, cooling or refrigeration. They may also specialize in either maintenance or repair.

Because work can fluctuate seasonally due to weather causing different heating and cooling demands, HVAC systems technicians often sell maintenance contracts so they can stay in business. They must also ensure that refrigerants used in HVAC systems are properly disposed of or recycled so as not to damage the environment.

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Requirements for an HVAC Systems Technician

Educational Requirements

HVAC systems technicians can learn the skills needed for their careers on the job under the guidance of more experienced technicians. However, employers today prefer candidates who have had formal education. Technicians can acquire their education through technical schools, community colleges, union-sponsored apprenticeships or the armed forces.

Technical schools, community colleges and universities offer certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree programs in HVAC technology. Curricula may include courses such as HVAC systems design, heating and cooling systems, and mechanical refrigeration systems.

Apprenticeships last 3-5 years and are offered through local chapters of professional organizations, such as the Air-Conditioning Contractors of America and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association. They include classes similar to the ones offered by HVAC programs in schools, as well as paid on-the-job training.

Licensing Requirements

Some states require HVAC systems technicians to be licensed. Licensing requirements always include passing a test and may also include education and experience components. In addition, technicians who buy or handle refrigerants must be certified, which usually means passing a written test.

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic and installation jobs were projected to grow 14% from 2014-2024, which was much faster than the average for all career fields. However, workers may experience periods of unemployment between projects. Heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers earned an average yearly salary of $47,380 in May 2015.

Through community colleges, technical schools or apprenticeship programs, you can become an HVAC technician. Licensure requirements can vary by state, but generally include elements of formal education and practical experience. If you plan on dealing with refrigerants, you must pass a test in order to become certified.

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