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Electrician Vs. HVAC Tech

It's common for electricians and HVAC techs to travel to different worksites and use some similar tools. The scope of their duties and types of systems they work on differ, however. Read on to learn more about how their training and duties compare.

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Comparing Electricians to HVAC Techs

Electricians and HVAC techs are construction specialists with distinct qualifications. Electricians install and maintain electrical systems while HVAC techs install and maintain heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Electricians High school diploma and apprenticeship; license $52,720 9%
HVAC Techs Postsecondary certificate; certification $45,910 15%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Electricians vs. HVAC Techs

Electricians put new wiring into buildings or replace old wiring as part of their regular duties. HVAC techs may also run wiring to connect new HVAC systems or equipment to thermostats and power sources. Electricians are qualified to wire all indoor and outdoor electrical systems while HVAC techs are qualified to work specifically and only on HVAC equipment.

Since electricians typically learn through apprenticeship programs, it's more common for an electrician to be responsible for supervising apprentices and electrician's helpers. HVAC techs do not have supervision as a primary responsibility. Both types of professionals have a higher-than-average rate of injury on the job and must wear safety equipment.

Electricians

Electricians work on electrical systems. They need to be in good shape because their work involves physical labor, such as carrying equipment and materials. They also need to be able to work long hours.

Electricians must have strong attention to detail because their work can be dangerous and they must ensure that building codes and regulations are followed. Working during evenings and weekends is normal for most electricians, although those that work for factories may have more consistent work hours. Most electricians work for electrical contractors.

Job responsibilities of an electrician include:

  • Examining technical documents
  • Installing wiring and electrical systems in new buildings
  • Connecting electrical systems to power supplies
  • Replacing defective wiring or electrical systems
  • Collaborating with engineers and construction specialists
  • Supervising apprentices

HVAC Techs

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers are also known as HVACR techs. These professionals are trained to work with what the acronym implies: air conditioning systems, furnaces, and refrigeration systems. Many work for contractors while others have their own business. It's normal for HVAC techs to be required to work during the evening or on weekends. HVAC techs can spend a great deal of time traveling from house to house or business to business. They should have strong troubleshooting skills so that they can correctly identify issues that need to be repaired.

Job responsibilities of an HVAC tech include:

  • Installing HVAC equipment
  • Wiring HVAC equipment
  • Providing customers with maintenance information
  • Performing equipment maintenance
  • Documenting work

Related Careers

If a career as either an electrician or an HVAC tech is something you're considering, then you may want to use the links here to learn more about what elevator mechanics and solar thermal installers do. Both of these careers share some similarities to the work of electricians and HVAC techs because they involve installing equipment and connecting equipment to power supplies.

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