HVAC technicians work in many types of buildings, including residential and commercial, installing, repairing and maintaining HVAC systems. They may be trained on specific systems, but are usually generalists trained to work on many systems. Jobs in this field are growing faster than the national average for all careers.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning field technicians, better known as HVAC field techs, install, maintain and repair heating and air conditioning systems in buildings. HVAC techs who also work on refrigeration systems are referred to as HVACR technicians. HVAC field technicians can specialize in one type of system, though they're usually trained for all job functions. An HVAC field technician must be able to work in a variety of conditions, such as indoors without climate control and outdoors in any type of weather. It's not uncommon for technicians to work on rooftops or in small, cramped spaces. Apprenticeships are available as way of initially training into the field.
|Required Education||Apprenticeships are common; certificate and degree programs are also available|
|Other Requirements||EPA certification is typically required; HVAC professional certification is recommended; licensure may be required in some states|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||14%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$45,110|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
HVAC Field Technician Training and Certification
HVAC technicians are trained to work in many different conditions and maintain systems on a seasonal basis. In winter, when homes and businesses generally use their units for heating, a technician specializing in air conditioning performs maintenance on cooling systems and must handle hazardous coolants and dispose of them properly. Likewise, a heating technician works on heat pumps and ducts during the summer when heating systems are less likely to be in use and checks that they are clear of dust and not leaking hazardous fuels.
Many aspiring HVAC field technicians gain their training through apprenticeships. For technicians that desire formal training, certificate, 2-year and 4-year degree programs are available from technical schools and colleges. Technical school programs prepare HVAC techs to pass the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) certification test dealing with safety and proper disposal of refrigerants used in air conditioning and refrigerator systems. Programs include courses on the following principles:
- Electricity and currents
- Heating principles
- Air conditioning and refrigeration
- Blueprint reading
HVAC professional associations offer certification for field technicians with experience. These certifications often require techs to pass a competency exam.
Employment Outlook for HVAC Field Techs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HVAC technicians are in demand due to the increase in homes and buildings that need climate control systems (www.bls.gov). In fact, jobs for HVAC mechanics and installers were predicted by the BLS to increase 14% from 2014 to 2024. In 2015, the median annual salary earned by HVAC technicians was $45,110, reported the BLS.
HVAC field technicians often learn their trade through apprenticeship programs, but they can also choose to complete a certificate or degree program. Some jobs may require EPA certification and, depending on the state, licensure. The median annual salary for these positions is about $45,000.