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Career Profile: What is an HVAC Technician?

HVAC technician at work

The employment rate for HVAC technicians is projected to rise 15 percent by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics1. But what is an HVAC technician, and what does HVAC stand for?

HVAC/R stands for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration. HVAC/R technicians are trade professionals who like to work with their hands. They facilitate and monitor systems that control air flow and air temperature. The specific duties of an HVAC/R technician include installation, maintenance, and repair of heating, cooling and refrigeration systems. They often install electrical components and wiring to these machines and inspect, replace and repair systems with defective or broken parts.

HVAC Technician Job Duties

HVAC/R technician job duties include:

  • Installation, cleaning and maintenance of HVAC/R systems
  • Installing electrical components and wiring
  • Inspection and testing HVAC/R systems and components
  • Discuss and explain system malfunctions with customers
  • Repair or replace worn and defective parts
  • Recommend maintenance to improve system performance
  • Keep records of work performed

HVAC/R technicians are the experts when it comes to the systems and machines that control and maintain things like temperature and air quality. Their work helps us live comfortably and makes the transport of perishable items, like food and medications, much simpler.

Professionals in this field must follow certain government regulations regarding conservation and recycling of materials. Some HVAC/R technicians also specialize in specific areas like commercial refrigeration or solar paneling.

HVAC Technician Skills

Careers in the HVAC/R field can be physically demanding and diverse jobs. Not only do they require working knowledge of parts and machinery but also physical skill and mobility. Typical characteristics of HVAC/R technicians include:

  • Physical stamina and strength. HVAC/R professionals may need to lift and move heavy equipment, as well as spend hours being active and on their feet.
  • Hand-eye coordination and mechanical skills. Working with machinery often requires precision and coordination to ensure all parts are correctly in place.
  • Communication and customer service skills. HVAC/R Technicians must be well-versed in describing and explaining complex system problems to home and business owners so that they understand the problem and how their problem will be addressed.
  • Attention to detail. HVAC/R professionals not only need to keep records of their jobs and maintenance requests but also of their equipment amounts, their time spent on projects and system specifications and requirements.

How to Become an HVAC Technician

As the field’s work becomes more complex, employers may prefer to hire HVAC/R technicians with a postsecondary diploma or certificate or greater. Many aspiring HVAC/R professionals enter technical or trade schools with programs in their field to develop entry-level knowledge of the trade.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all technicians who buy, handle or work with refrigerants to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. Many trade schools offer programs designed to prepare students for this exam.

HVAC Technician Salary

HVAC/R technicians usually work full-time. Some work evenings, weekends and overtime. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics2, HVAC/R technicians can make between $29,120 and $75,330 annually. The median annual wage for HVAC/R Technicians was $47,080 in 2016.

Interested in pursuing a career as an HVAC/R technician? Find out more about how with Virginia College.

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Virginia College does not guarantee employment or advancement.