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Oil Heat Technician: Job Outlook & Career Requirements

Oil heating systems are used in many homes and businesses across the country. Learn about the job duties, training requirements and earnings for oil heat technicians here.

Career Definition for an Oil Heat Technician

Oil heat technicians service, repair and replace the operating components of oil heat furnace systems. Often working alone and unsupervised for a repair shop or retailer, oil heat technicians make service calls to residences and businesses that have oil heating systems. A typical service call may include checking safety valves, adjusting temperature controls, repairing electrical elements or replacing pipes, as well as performing general maintenance on oil burning furnaces. Oil heat technicians who work for retailers may also sell operational upgrades or new furnaces to their customers.

Education Requirements A certificate or two-year degree from a technical school or college
Skill Requirements Mechanical skills, customer service, math and reading skills
Career Outlook (2016 to 2026)* 15% growth (for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics)
Median Annual Salary (2017)* $47,080 (for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics)

*Source: U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Employers prefer to hire technicians who have a certificate of completion from a technical school or are graduates of a 2-year college. An inexperienced oil heat technician may initially be hired as an apprentice. Certification programs at technical schools can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of years to complete. Core coursework may include topics in furnace design and operation, tank and burner maintenance, installation, pump repair and motor replacement. The potential for advancement is best for oil heat technicians who continue their education and acquire advanced certifications.

Skills Required

Good mechanical skills and customer service skills are necessary for oil heat technicians. Math and reading skills are essential for understanding service manuals and equipment operating guides.

Career and Salary Outlook

Employment in the field of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics will continue to grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026, as older technicians retire and oil heating systems are upgraded to operate more efficiently, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Experienced oil heat technicians should continue to find work with companies that service large commercial and residential properties.

The BLS reported that the median salary for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians was $47,080 as of May 2017. With a certificate from a technical school and enough experience, oil heat technicians can go on to become boilermakers, furnace repair shop owners or refrigeration technicians (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Alternate careers in this field include:

Boilermakers

Boilermakers are responsible for installing and fixing boilers, dams, storage tanks and other large vessels that contain gases and liquids. A high school diploma is typically required in order to enter the field, and boilermakers often complete a 4-5-year apprenticeship program as well. The BLS reports that job opportunities for boilermakers are expected to increase by 9% nationwide, or as fast as average, from 2016 to 2026. As of May 2017, boilermakers were paid median yearly wages of $62,260 (www.bls.gov).

Electricians

Electricians install and service control, communications, electrical power and lighting systems for companies and private residences. In addition to earning a high school diploma, aspiring electricians usually complete a 4-5-year apprenticeship, which can help them fulfill the requirements for a state license. As reported by the BLS, electricians can look forward to a 9%, or as fast as average, growth in jobs from 2016 to 2026. In May 2017, electricians earned median annual wages of $54,110, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).


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