HVAC technicians are skilled tradespeople who spend their time inspecting, maintaining, and repairing climate control systems in residential or commercial buildings. Their job is similar to that of HVAC installers, although instead of installing the equipment, HVAC technicians service the equipment.
You’ll find skilled HVAC techs in every corner of the globe, and the skills you learn as an HVAC technician will serve you well, no matter where you live or work. Today, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to become an HVAC technician and what you can expect from a fast-paced career in HVAC.
HVAC Technician Career Trajectory: Is HVAC a Good Career in 2021 and Beyond?
If you’re unsure if learning how to become an HVAC technician is the right career choice for you, the answer is a resounding yes. The outlook for the HVAC industry is exceptionally bright. After all, people will always need to heat and cool their homes and businesses, which isn’t going to change soon. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 15% rise in HVAC employment through 2026.
HVAC technicians are compensated well, and the nature of the job allows techs to live and work virtually anywhere in the world. Plus, building and trade careers like this one are one of the few opportunities employees have to earn a paycheck while they’re learning the ins and outs of their profession.
On the other side of the coin, HVAC techs occasionally work long hours, and the job does present some occupational hazards. Still, technicians quickly learn how to work smart, safe, and efficient, which minimizes work hazards and long hours. If you’re willing to get your hands dirty while working in a job that’s personally and professionally fulfilling, HVAC is an excellent choice.
How Do I Become an HVAC Technician?
Becoming an HVAC technician is a fairly straightforward process that usually involves schooling, certification, and ongoing training on the job.
While it can be helpful to have solid math, physics, and chemistry skills, these skills are far from a requirement. Most HVAC techs hone these skills through years on the job, and no company will expect a technician who’s new to the industry to enter the business with a high level of proficiency.
Most companies require the applicant to hold a high school diploma or a GED certificate and a driver’s license for an entry-level position. Beyond that, companies look for punctual, diligent, and eager applicants to work and learn.
The path to becoming an HVAC technician can vary depending on your location and also from company to company.
Many techs get their start by applying for an entry-level job and adding skills to their repertoire as they work. Others get into the industry through a trade school that provides hands-on and practical training for aspiring technicians. It’s also possible to serve an apprenticeship through an association or trade union, where you’re able to work as an entry-level technician while also attending classes to develop your skills further.
Depending on where you live, there may be some requirements in your state regarding how you can enter the industry. In some states, an apprenticeship is required, while some have no specific requirements beyond employers having a trade certification.
If you’re looking to pursue a career in HVAC, speak directly with companies in your area. Most businesses are happy to offer some insight to interested parties looking to enter the industry. You’ll also find excellent resources online that can help you navigate the requirements for HVAC employment in your state.
How Much Does an HVAC Technician Make?
HVAC technicians earn a solid living, and the industry offers room to grow and advance. According to the bureau of labor statistics, the median salary for an HVAC tech in 2020 was $50,590 per year or $24.32 per hour.
Lead technicians can earn substantially more. There is also the opportunity to make more money in sales and engineering, which are career paths that many HVAC technicians choose to take after working in the field.
Are Employment Requirements Different from State to State?
While many states don’t set any employment requirements for employment as an HVAC technician, many states have rules that must be followed before you can become a tech. Some states require an apprenticeship or trade certification before you can work in the field.
Skill Sets of an HVAC Technician
Anybody can thrive as an HVAC technician, but there are some skills that many of the best HVAC techs have in common. If you’re serious about a career in HVAC, consider honing these skills.
1. Troubleshooting Skills
So much of an HVAC tech's day involves troubleshooting and solving problems. Strong skills in these areas can ensure sustained success as a technician.
2. Eager to Learn
Even an HVAC technician with decades of experience on the job is constantly learning and refining their skills. If you’re headstrong and stuck in your ways, you may have a hard time as a technician. But, if you’re willing to learn and adapt on the job, you should do well.
3. Systems Knowledge
Knowledge of HVAC systems and protocols is something you’ll continually refine throughout your career. It’s critical that any technician begin learning immediately and continue to apply what they’ve learned in the field.
Most HVAC technicians spend a portion of their day interacting with customers. Customer service for an HVAC tech may involve breaking down complex HVAC concepts in layman’s terms and putting the customer at ease throughout the service or repair process. A warm personality and strong customer service skills can be beneficial for a technician.
What’s the Career Progression For an HVAC Technician?
The vast majority of people wondering how to become an HVAC technician are unaware of how much room to grow within the industry. Those in management, sales, and engineering often began their careers in HVAC as service technicians, progressing from there into their current roles.
Some technicians choose to go back to school to prepare themselves for HVAC engineering and product development careers. Others enter management positions or start their own HVAC installation and repair businesses. For the HVAC technician, there is always an opportunity to grow and progress within the industry.
Interesting in an HVAC Career? Check Out These Open Positions:
Did you like this how-to article? Check out a few of our other career guides below.