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HVAC Technician: Career Information

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Job Description:

An HVAC technician installs, maintains and repairs heating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems. HVAC is an abbreviation for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. An HVAC technician may specialize in installation or in maintenance and repair. He or she may also specialize in either heating, air conditioning or refrigeration work.

Employment Facts:

There were 308,000 HVAC technicians employed in the U.S. in 2008.

Educational Requirements:

Most employers prefer to hire HVAC technicians who have completed formal training, which may include an apprenticeship or classroom instruction. Classroom instruction can take place at a trade or technical school, or at a community college. The U.S. Armed Forces also offers HVAC training. Apprenticeships generally last three to five years and are jointly sponsored by local chapters of unions, for example the Air Conditioning Contractors of America or Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association.

Other Requirements:

Some states and localities require HVAC technicians to be licensed. This requires passing a test. To prepare for a future career as an HVAC technician, high school students can take courses in shop math, mechanical drawing, applied physics and chemistry, electronics, blueprint reading, and computer applications. An HVAC technician should be in good physical condition.

Advancement Opportunities:

Some HVAC technicians may advance to supervisory positions, while others may move into sales and marketing jobs. There are HVAC technicians who become building superintendents, cost estimators and system test and balance specialists.

Job Outlook:

The job outlook for HVAC technicians is excellent. This occupation is projected to grow faster, through 2018, than other occupations that require post-secondary training or an associate degree (The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Earnings - HVAC Technician:

HVAC technicians earned median hourly wages of $19.76 and a median annual salary of $41,100 in 2009.

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a HVAC technician currently earns in your city.

A Day in an HVAC Technician's Life:

On a typical day an HVAC technician's tasks might include:

  • Repairing or replacing defective equipment, components or wiring.
  • Testing electrical circuits and components for continuity, using electrical test equipment.
  • Complying with all applicable standards, policies and procedures, including safety procedures and the maintenance of a clean work area.
  • Reassembling and testing equipment following repairs.
  • Inspecting and testing system to verify system compliance with plans and specifications and to detect and locate malfunctions.

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos192.htm (visited November 22, 2010).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/49-9021.01 (visited November 22, 2010).

Should You Become an HVAC Technician? Take a Quiz to Find Out.

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