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What Is an HVACR Technician?

Oct 7, 2022 ·

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You see them in office buildings, schools, hospitals and just about any indoor space that requires heating, cooling and refrigeration. They may have even visited your home!

HVACR technicians are essential workers. Without proper heating or cooling, people could experience unsafe conditions. Food could spoil. Medicine could be damaged. Lifesaving equipment and items like a human heart that’s being stored for a transplant could be destroyed.

HVACR technicians to the rescue! Learn more about an HVAC technician job description, HVAC technician requirements, HVACR technicians salary info and more.

What Does HVAC Stand For?

While HVAC is a common term in the industry, when we add the R to HVAC, HVACR stands for:

  • Heating
  • Ventilation
  • Air Conditioning
  • Refrigeration

Typically, an HVACR technician will train in all of the above areas. They might work on a variety of technologies each day, from a heater/cooler to a refrigerator. They may also specialize in installing, maintaining or fixing specific types of equipment.

What Does an HVAC Technician Do?

What is an HVAC technician? The answer to that question, as well as to what do HVAC techs do, depends on the tech’s employer and the industry in which they work.

Generally, HVACR technicians work on the machines that control air quality and temperature indoors, including refrigeration, heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Some HVACR technicians specialize in specific HVACR areas, like solar panels, commercial refrigeration or radiant heating systems.

Some HVACR technicians travel to multiple clients within a single day. Others work on projects as part of larger teams that can include electricians, plumbers, boilermakers and sheet metal workers.

How does HVAC work? A typical day of HVACR work might include the following duties:

  • Communicating HVACR system issues to customers
  • Fixing or replacing defective or worn parts
  • Inspecting and testing HVACR components and systems, including filters and ducts
  • Installing, maintaining and cleaning HVACR systems
  • Installing electrical wiring and components
  • Maintaining work records
  • Providing maintenance recommendations to improve system performance

How much can you make as an HVACR technician? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers in the United States was $48,630 in May 2021.58 This means half earned more and half earned less. Keep in mind that salary depends on several factors, including experience, employer, demand and cost of living in the area.

Skills Required to Be an HVACR Technician

HVACR technicians are on their feet for much of their workdays, and they use their hands to get the job done. The BLS reports today’s HVACR employers generally prefer candidates to have completed postsecondary HVACR education or an apprenticeship.

HVACR techs must be certified to handle, work with or buy refrigerant. There may also be licensing and background-check requirements for this field.

In addition to the proper education, training and licensing, HVACR technicians typically use these skills:

  • Communication and customer service: HVACR technicians need to simply and clearly communicate issues to customers and team members. When HVACR technicians work on larger teams, they also need to effectively communicate and collaborate with their coworkers.
  • Analytics: HVACR technicians must match the proper HVACR equipment with the space and needs of the client. This may require using math to calculate load requirements, as well as using troubleshooting skills to determine the best methods for repair.

  • Mechanical skills: Since HVACR technicians are installing, maintaining and fixing complex systems, they need to be comfortable working with these machines and ensuring they work correctly.
  • Physical endurance: As mentioned, HVACR work can be physical. It’s not your average desk job, where you’re sitting all day. You’ll be on your feet, moving around and potentially lifting equipment.
  • Time management: When HVACR technicians have a lineup of jobs to get to each day, they need to manage their time efficiently to complete work safely and on time.

One advantage of going to trade school for an HVACR role is that you can learn these skills during your training. If you’re new to or rusty on one or more of these skills, don’t worry — you can get up to speed in HVACR school.

The Pros and Cons of Becoming an HVACR Technician

Wondering whether training to become an HVACR technician fits you? Consider these HVAC pros and cons.

Pros

  1. You get to help people. Homeowners, workers and customers need proper cooling, heating and refrigeration to live and work comfortably indoors. Every day HVACR techs help fix a system or maintain it to keep it running, they’re helping keep people safe and happy indoors. You could be part of the solution that keeps a business running, or that protects lifesaving medicine.
  2. Every day is different. HVACR techs are constantly problem-solving. Their goal is to find the best solution in a safe and effective manner. If you love fixing things, analyzing puzzles and solving problems, you’d get to put those skills into action every day.
  3. There’s opportunity everywhere. HVACR techs are needed in every state in the country and in most places around the globe. If you want to grow a career in management or executive leadership, many companies provide promotion opportunities and work on developing their talent within. As Jason Freeman, Operations Manager at Technical Hot and Cold, explains, “The career path with Technical Hot and Cold can go every which way, which is exciting. (Technicians) come in, they can go into industrial, they can go into residential, they can go into commercial. In those paths, we’d like to see them well-rounded within a couple of years to be a full-on senior technician. And we’d like to get them on the road from there.”

Cons

  1. You must embrace the uncomfortable. If you’re working on a broken air conditioning system in the middle of summer, your environment might get a little hot. HVACR techs may work outside or inside in less-than-ideal environments as they fix systems. The good news is, the environment is temporary. And if you’re able to fix the problem, you get to reap the benefits of having a happy customer.
  2. HVACR work is very physical. This may actually be a pro, if you’re looking for a job where you get to move your body while you’re on the clock. If you’d rather not get your hands dirty or be on your feet most of the day, being an HVACR technician may not suit you.
  3. There may be nontraditional work hours. HVACR work is often a 24/7 job. Some HVACR technicians do have typical weekday, daytime schedules. Others might sign up to be on-call on weekends or at nights. You can always negotiate your schedule with your employer, but when you’re starting out, you may be asked to work some nontraditional hours.

What Are the Steps to Becoming an HVACR Technician?

You can train to become an HVACR technician in less than a year. Here are the steps you can take to begin the journey toward an HVACR tech career.1

1. Get Trained

As mentioned, the BLS reports that most employers prefer candidates who have completed training or, at the very least, an apprenticeship. Training can provide safety knowledge, technical and equipment knowledge, and other skills that can help prepare students to enter the field.

In our HVACR program, you can learn skills that include:

  • Customer relations
  • Schematics use and interpretation
  • Ductwork fabrication
  • AC and DC circuits and components
  • Mechanical and electronic controls troubleshooting
  • Vent system selection and installation
  • Air handling and hydronics
  • Piping and fitting basics

According to Jessica Hart, a recruiter at Thornton & Grooms Residential Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, completing a training program “is always going to put you a step ahead of somebody else. It shows you can learn.”6

2. Obtain Required Certifications and Licenses

Different states may have specific licensing and certification requirements. You can typically find these by searching online for “HVACR requirements in (state)”.

A common HVACR technician certification is the Section 608 Technician Certification, which is required for technicians who dispose of, maintain, repair or service equipment with refrigerants. If you work in the refrigeration side of HVACR, you’ll likely need to get this certification. An HVACR training program that covers refrigeration fundamentals and commercial refrigeration can help prepare you to test for this certification.

You can also check job descriptions in different states while you’re training, so you can research what’s required to apply. You can also talk with your instructors or reach out to Career Services for more information on licensing and/or certification requirements.

3. Apply for a Job

Program graduates are ready to apply for entry-level positions in the HVACR field. Students can connect with Career Services, which can help them find jobs that match their interests and skill sets.2

Interested in Becoming an HVACR Technician?

HVACR technician work is cool (literally, sometimes!) because you get to work with your hands in a physical job while you bring joy and relief to customers’ lives almost every day.

If you’re interested in training to become an HVACR tech, we offer the program at several campus locations. Request info on HVACR, and we’ll send you details on start dates, course descriptions and more.

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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 www.uti.edu/disclosures for UTI and www.miat.edu/disclosures for MIAT.

6) UTI and MIAT graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on personal credentials and economic factors. Work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer and their compensation programs affect wages. UTI and MIAT are educational institutions and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

58) The Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) program prepares graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as HVACR technicians. Estimated annual salary is for Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2021 Occupational Employment and Wages. Entry-level salaries are lower for graduates. UTI and MIAT are educational institutions and cannot guarantee employment or salary. Graduates’ achievements vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on economic factors, personal credentials, work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer, and their compensation programs. Some graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as HVACR technicians, such as installation technicians and refrigeration technicians. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary range for persons employed as Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (49-9021) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is $42,100 to $58,670 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2020 data https://lmi.dua.eol.mass.gov/lmi/OccupationalEmploymentAndWageSpecificOccupations#). Salary information for North Carolina: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the hourly median wage for skilled HVACR technicians in North Carolina is $22.76 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2021 Occupational Employment and Wages, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentile of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $17.96 and $14.56, respectively.

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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