HVAC technicians install, repair or maintain heating and air conditioning units.
Opportunities for careers in heating, ventilation and air conditioning -- known as HVAC -- are expected to grow faster than the average for other fields by 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. To get started as an HVAC technician, students first need to get a degree, which can take up to two years to complete depending on the school and the program.
What an HVAC Technician Does
HVAC technicians can install, maintain, diagnose and repair air conditioning and heating units in both residential and commercial properties. Some technicians may also learn how to service refrigeration units and can get a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, or HVACR, degree or certification. Technicians can be self-employed, or
they can work for a repair service or for a large company. The job carries a certain amount of risk since it requires working with electrical and mechanical components and includes exposure to potentially toxic chemicals. Technicians may also be required to work in tight spaces or high places.
An HVAC degree is typically completed at a trade school or community college, and it takes on average two years to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed more quickly. Other schools offer a job-ready certification that can be completed in as little as 15 weeks. The degree program and the certification teach the basic knowledge required for the job, such as electrical work, understanding of HVAC system mechanics and how to take proper safety measures.
Apprenticeship and Licensure