The professionals responsible for keeping indoor spaces cool in the summer and warm in the winter go by many names: air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic and installers; air conditioning technicians; HVAC technicians; HVACR technicians; HVAC service technicians; and simply HVAC techs. Demand for indoor climate control is high, which is one reason why the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts much faster than average job growth for HVAC workers through 2026.
HVAC Technician Definition
HVAC techs service the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems in homes, office building, factories, and schools. They may also work on solar panels and commercial refrigeration equipment.
What Does an HVAC Technician Do?
The majority of the job entails the installation, maintenance, repair, and replacement of HVACR units. Some individuals also specialize in major appliance repair; they are known as HVAC/R-MAR technicians. These professionals usually interact with home and business owners and may work in multiple locations on a daily basis. Lastly, they must abide by specific laws governing the refrigerants used in most HVACR equipment. Learn more about what an HVAC technician does.
Compared to the national average job growth rate of 7 percent for all occupations and general installation, maintenance, and repair occupations, HVAC technicians are predicted to see jobs added at a rate of 15 percent through 2026, according to the BLS.
Job Growth Factors
- Continuous demand for indoor climate control and refrigeration among the owners of homes and businesses
- Repair and replacement of older HVACR units
- An increase in residential and commercial building construction
- Retrofitting, replacing, and upgrading HVACR units to improve energy efficiency
- Air-conditioning, heating, and plumbing contractors
- HVAC technicians (self-employed)
- Private, local, and state educational services
- Retail trade work
- Wholesale work
Job opportunities tend to be better for those who’ve completed formal HVAC training programs because employers often prefer to hire candidates with this credential. Many HVACR systems use refrigerants, and HVAC technicians are required by law to obtain U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification to handle them.
Graduates of Midwest Technical Institute’s HVAC/R-MAR Technician training program are required to take and pass two of the EPA’s Section 608 Core HVAC certification exams: Type I for servicing small appliances and Type II for servicing or disposing of appliances with high to very high pressure, except MVACs and small appliances. MTI offers HVAC training in Springfield, East Peoria, and Moline, Illinois. An MTI HVAC program is also available in Springfield, Missouri. Illinois employed 6,640 HVAC technicians in 2016, and Missouri employed another 5,520.
The salaries of HVAC technicians can vary. Factors that influence how much HVAC technicians earn include credentials, specializations, work experience, the industry in which they work, and their location. For example, industry or specialized certifications can lead to career advancement and higher earnings. The BLS indicates that the industries that pay the most are aerospace product and parts manufacturing; the publishers of books, newspapers, directories, and periodicals; natural gas distributers; wired telecommunications carriers; and specialty hospitals. States that typically pay the most are the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Alaska, North Dakota, and New Jersey.
Graduates of MTI’s HVAC training programs in Illinois and Missouri typically make $24,626 a year.
HVAC Technician Skills
HVAC techs work on complex equipment and therefore must possess a combination of theoretical knowledge and technical skills. Many take HVAC classes to learn the concepts and practices necessary to perform the job.
- Basic electricity
- Blueprint reading
- Mechanical skills
- Troubleshooting skills
- Tool identification and uses
- Software: computer aided design (CAD), word processing, databases, industrial control, and facilities management
- Building and construction
- Equipment installation, maintenance, and repair
HVAC Technician Qualities & Traits
Some individuals are naturally well-suited for a career in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration industry because they have specific qualities and traits.
- Attention to detail
- Physical strength and stamina
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Good manners
- Time-management skills
- Near vision
- Manual dexterity
- Problem solving
The HVAC industry holds career opportunities beyond the servicing of traditional heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment. In some cases, additional training, work experience, or other credentials are necessary.
- Green HVAC Jobs: energy efficient HVAC practices and green construction
- HVAC Installer
- HVAC Operation Manager
- HVAC Distribution Manager
While individuals learn many of the skills necessary to work as an HVAC technician, they may also have natural qualities and traits that can help them in this profession.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
Completing a training program at an HVAC technician school is a common path to becoming an HVAC worker because employers typically prefer to hire applicants with this credential. Since most HVACR equipment uses refrigerants, many technicians obtain EPA certification in order to work with these potentially environmentally harmful substances.
Licenses and Certifications
Licensing requirements for HVAC technicians vary by state and locality. Technicians working with refrigerants must obtain EPA certification. Additional certifications, such as North American Technician Excellence (NATE) and HVAC Excellence, can validate a technician’s skills and knowledge to the industry and customers.
MTI requires students of its HVAC/R-Mar Technician training program to pass the EPA’s exams for servicing small appliances and certain types of high-pressure appliances (Type I and Type II). The school offers training in Illinois and Missouri. Neither state requires HVAC technicians to be licensed.
- Wind Turbine Technicians
- Stationary Engineers and Boiler Operators
- General Maintenance and Repair Workers
- Sheet Metal Workers
- Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
-  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-6