In the Heating, Ventilation, and Air-conditioning (HVAC) industry, an HVAC technician salary will vary according to their skill level, experience, and the certifications of training and expertise that the technician has attained.
HVAC Technician Salary Overview
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers make an annual median salary of $47,610 as of 2018. This is equivalent to $22.89 per hour.
HVAC Technician Salary: Job Description and Outlook
HVAC technicians are highly trained professionals who work on environmental systems within buildings. These systems include heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration.
Servicemen may install or repair equipment and parts for all of these related systems, including creating custom duct work and pipe bending.
These professionals work in all types of buildings, including residential property, industrial workplaces, commercial business locations, and others.
Certain systems control building comfort, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. These systems affect the overall temperature, air quality, and humidity in a building.
Refrigeration systems make preservation of food, medicine, and perishable items possible and affordable.
These systems have critically important equipment such as gauges, motors, fans, compressors, thermostats, and other parts that must be maintained and installed by specially trained persons in this field.
The reason HVAC technicians are needed is that improperly working equipment can have fatal results. Parts may contain sensitive mechanical, electrical, or electronic components.
In the course of their work, HVAC and HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration) technicians use specialized tools and test equipment to make settings and adjustments to the systems.
HVAC and HVACR workers perform a variety of duties, including:
- Installing electrical components and wiring
- Installing, maintaining, and cleaning HVACR systems
- Discussing system malfunctions with customers
- Inspecting and testing HVACR systems
- Recommending maintenance to improve system performance
- Repairing or replacing worn or defective parts
- Keeping records of work performed
HVAC technician specializations
An HVAC technician may specialize in one or more areas of the field, such as installation or repair, or they may specialize in a particular type of equipment, such as solar equipment.
For new installations, HVAC technicians follow blueprints and technical specifications.
Once he or she installs the large equipment, the technician must connect the parts, which may include duct work, water lines, pipes, electronic controls, automation equipment, pumps, and wiring.
Some work is potentially hazardous, and there must be extra care. For example, to not inhale asbestos fibers or other particles that may be present at the work location.
Refrigeration technicians must know how to test and control refrigerant materials that may be toxic to the environment.
HVAC technician training
HVAC technicians know how to use specialized equipment and tools. These include torches, hammers, wrenches, metal snips, pipe cutters, pipe benders, gauges, thermostats, and others.
HVAC technician working conditions
The working environment may vary through all temperature ranges. Technicians may work inside buildings, outside, or on rooftops in all types of weather conditions.
Many hazards could be present, including getting burned by fire, heat or steam, electrical shocks, and muscle strains from lifting heavy equipment.
HVAC technicians need to take precautions against inhaling toxic materials, particles, or fumes in the course of their work.
Installers and repair service technicians may work a 40-hour week, but there could be overtime or on-call shifts.
Much of the work for heating and cooling is mainly seasonal, with the busiest times being during the winter heating and summer cooling seasons.
HVAC companies try to get customers to have maintenance scheduled during the slower times in spring and fall to fill up the work schedules.
HVAC technician job outlook
The job outlook for HVAC technicians is excellent.
Employment of HVAC or HVACR technicians is expected to grow by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is much higher than the national average of all occupations, which is seven percent.
The reasoning behind the expected HVAC technician job growth is due to commercial and residential building construction. There is also expected to be a growing number of sophisticated climate-control systems.
Additionally, there is an increasing demand for energy efficiency and pollution reduction. Climate control systems will need to be retrofitted, upgraded, or completely replaced.
HVAC Technician Salary: Training and Education Requirements
Most HVAC or HVACR technicians receive education through technical and trade schools or community colleges that offer programs in the HVAC area.
It will typically take about six months to two years to complete one of these programs that leads to either a degree or associate’s degree.
You can also take some courses in high school to prepare you to become an HVAC technician, including:
- Vocational education
HVAC technicians can receive on-the-job training by working with skilled mentors or supervisors. They can also become trained in apprenticeship programs or by attending HVAC training in college.
The key to advancement is to become certified and trained in as many specialty programs as possible. Training is required, and pay relates to the amount of training the HVAC technician has accomplished.
Upon completion of training, the technician must have six months to two years of on-the-job work experience before they are considered to be proficient. You can also gain education in this career during military service
Many industry associations, including the Mechanical Contractors Association of America and the National Association of Home Builders, offer formal HVAC training apprenticeships.
An excellent primary education in mathematics, electronics, physics, engineering, blueprint reading, chemistry, drafting, and computer studies are valuable for entry into this career.
Business operations, plumbing, and communications also provide a good entry background for HVAC training.
HVAC Technician Salary: Certifications
Certifications can determine the areas the technician can do work in. For example, those who want to work with refrigeration must be certified to handle refrigerants properly because they are hazardous.
Some certification programs require that the technician have a certain amount of on-the-job experience before taking an examination. Refrigeration technicians can take exams that are sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Many organizations offer HVAC training certifications following the completion of school or training courses.
Certification that is offered by North American Technician Excellence, Inc. (NATE) represents the best in HVAC training.
Additional certifications are offered from:
- Refrigeration Service Engineers Society
- The Carbon Monoxide Safety Association
- HVAC Excellence
- Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Safety Coalition
HVAC Technician Salary: Professional Associations
HVAC technicians can join many associations, including:
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers
- Refrigeration Service Engineers Society
- Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
- Hydronic Heating Association
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Should You Become an HVAC Technician?
As you can see, multiple factors will go into your decision to become an HVAC technician. These will include the typical HVAC technician salary, education and training requirements, and the working conditions.
If you enjoy manual labor and figuring out climate control systems, then this might be a career for you. You just have to figure out if all of the various factors make it worth it.
Are you an HVAC technician or on the road to becoming one? Let us know your experience in a comment!
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