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HVAC Technician

Job Duties

HVAC technicians work with heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. They usually specialize in post-installation testing, balancing, adjusting, and servicing of these systems. They are responsible for ensuring that heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems are running correctly. They are also responsible for making improvements in the energy efficiency of these systems. Duct systems are a crucial part of all HVAC systems. The ducts create even distribution of air throughout the system. They also cut down on leaks and temperature differentiation that may lead to problems such as mold within the system.

Job Skills

Those interested in HVAC technician positions should be in excellent physical condition, as the job is very physically demanding. They need to have an aptitude for mechanical and mathematical work. They must also have spatial and form perception, manual dexterity, good eyesight, and well-developed hand-eye coordination.

Income

The earnings of HVAC technicians varies depending on the location and whether they belong to a union. Workers earn a median hourly wage of $16, with a 5% increase every 6 months until journey-level status is attained. They earn overtime, which is usually time and a half. Some workers are only employed during peak construction seasons. Most HVAC technicians receive benefits such as paid vacation, sick leave, and insurance. The following shows the median hourly wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of HVAC technicians:

  • Federal Government: $19.73
  • Building equipment contractors: $17.47
  • Building finishing contractors: $16.77
  • Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors: $15.48
  • Architectural and structural metals manufacturing: $14.60

Training and Education

In order to reach the status of journey-level, HVAC technicians must usually complete a formal apprenticeship program that lasts 4 years. These programs are typically sponsored by the local Sheet Metal Joint Apprenticeship Committee. They are composed of a mix of on-the-job experience and classroom instruction. In order to be accepted into an apprenticeship program, applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, they must complete a written test, and they must pass a personal interview. High school students interested in this career should take courses in algebra, trigonometry, geometry, mechanical drawing, ,and metal shop. A few HVAC technicians enter the profession by starting as helpers and completing informal on-the-job training from their employers. Some employers require employees to provide their own sets of hand tools. HVAC technicians can advance to higher positions, especially if they gain additional knowledge in welding, blueprint reading, heating, and air-conditioning. Workers can advance to become supervisors, estimators, or managers. Some obtain sheet metal contractor's licenses and start their own businesses. Click on this link to a list of schools offering HVAC Technician Training and to contact their admissions departments for more information.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of HVAC technicians is expected to increase about as fast as the average. This will be due to demand for energy efficient air-conditioning, heating, and ventilation systems. Most job openings occur during peak construction times, usually March through November. Because much of this work is done indoors, HVAC technicians are less susceptible to loss of work due to inclement weather.