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How to Become an HVAC Technician

Oct 11, 2022 ·

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Imagine a summer without air conditioning. A winter without heat. A freezer that’s melting. Without heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR), the world would be a much more difficult place to survive in. And how could we keep pizza frozen or drinks cold?

HVACR technicians maintain, fix and install the vital heating, cooling and refrigeration systems we rely on every day. Their work helps keep people safe and comfortable indoors, no matter how hot or cold it is outside. They help restaurants keep their kitchens stocked, they protect your groceries and they ensure essential equipment like medicine and computer servers don’t overheat.

You may not realize all they do behind the scenes, but HVACR technicians are some of the most important technicians around. For a job that’s truly essential, here’s how to become an HVAC technician and what to expect from the job.1

Answer to What Is HVAC Technician

HVACR technicians work for all types of businesses in diverse industries like medicine, education, residential and commercial. They install, repair and maintain the systems that control air quality, humidity and temperature in homes, hospitals, factories, schools, restaurants and offices.

An HVAC technician job description might include duties like:

  • Installing HVACR systems, including wiring and electrical components
  • Inspecting, testing and maintaining HVACR components and systems, including cleaning ducts, checking refrigerant levels and replacing filters
  • Diagnosing HVACR problems and communicating issues to customers
  • Repairing HVACR systems and repairing or replacing defective components
  • Recommending maintenance to customers to improve HVACR system performance

Nathan Revita, a residential HVAC technician at Technical Hot & Cold, describes his work:

“A typical day on the job for me is receiving my calls in the morning, going from home to home, diagnosing issues with residential furnaces and air conditioners, resolving the problem, getting the part, replacing the part, and then making sure the system is operating correctly,” says Nathan, who graduated from the HVACR program at MIAT College of Technology.

There are different areas HVACR technicians may specialize in, such as commercial refrigeration or radiant heating systems. HVACR technicians may also work as part of bigger teams that help electricians, sheet metal workers and pipework experts install large air conditioning systems.

“The industry’s always changing,” says Jason Freeman, operations manager at Technical Hot & Cold. “There’s so many different aspects of HVAC, and you can go into pretty much any field which we encompass here. We do refrigeration, residential boilers, commercial, industrial — we do it all. It’s really exciting because we can take on pretty much any line of work we’re looking at.”

Zach Squires, a commercial service technician at Technical Hot & Cold and an HVACR graduate from MIAT, agrees that there’s always something new to explore as an HVACR technician.

“My favorite part about working here is that it changes every day,” Zach says. “It’s never the same thing. It’s not repetitive.”

HVAC Technician Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most HVACR technician employers prefer candidates who have training. That’s because HVACR systems are evolving rapidly and are constantly becoming more technologically complex. Training helps HVACR techs learn how to stay safe while working on the latest equipment.

HVACR technicians who handle refrigerants must also be certified in proper refrigerant handling as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In HVACR school, you’ll learn how to prepare for certification exams. Some states and localities may also require HVACR technicians to obtain a license.

To succeed in the field, HVACR technicians need to know skills like:

  • HVACR safety procedures and tools
  • Piping and fitting
  • Basic electricity
  • Fundamentals of refrigeration, heating systems and indoor air
  • Air handling and hydronics
  • Vent system selection and installation
  • Mechanical and electronic controls
  • Ductwork fabrication

HVACR technicians also need to have good communication and time management skills because they deal directly with customers and may have several jobs to do in a single shift. Physical strength and stamina are also essential, since HVACR work requires standing and moving around.

“My favorite part about my job is you’re always on the go,” says Ryann Tobin, a commercial HVAC technician at Technical Hot & Cold and an MIAT HVACR graduate. “You’re always on the move. It’s so much better than sitting at a desk or being a bartender or server. It’s just so much nicer than any other job I can imagine.”

How to Train to Become an HVACR Technician

You can train to become an HVACR technician in less than a year at our schools. You’ll learn the skills HVACR employers are looking for.1 Plus, you’ll prepare to test for HVACR industry certifications.

“When I was finished with school, that transition from school to the workplace was fairly smooth,” Nathan says. “Everything that I learned in school had prepped me for the job that I do now and helped me out a lot.”

Some employers may require training or prefer candidates who have completed training. Jessica Hart, recruiter at Thornton & Grooms Residential Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, explains why.

“I would recommend completing some type of training program,” Jessica says. “It shows you can learn. If you come in with basic skillsets, we can teach you how to be a superstar.”

Learn more about HVACR training on our program page.

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1) UTI and MIAT are educational institutions and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit for UTI and for MIAT.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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