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Working in HVAC: Becoming an HVAC Technician

Looking for a career with job security? Consider this: every apartment, home, and business in the United States has an HVAC system. And they all need serviced. In this video we’ll go over everything you need to know about becoming an HVAC technician.

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Revised:

February 9th, 2022

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median pay for an HVAC technician is $50,590 per year, and an estimated 5% job growth is expected over the next decade. If you are considering a career in HVAC, this video is for you.

Hi, I’m Jerad from Fire & Ice. If you’re looking for a career with job security, consider this: every apartment, home, and business in the United States has an HVAC system. And every one of those systems will need to be serviced. Even the best equipment wears out after 15-20 years, and the need to replace air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces is neverending. And in markets like ours here in Central Ohio, there are over 200 HVAC companies. The odds are high that most have job openings. By the end of this video, we hope you’ll understand the benefits and downsides of a career in HVAC, the skills needed, and how to get started.

How to get started?

Starting a career in HVAC can be done right out of high school or later in life. The best way to begin is to enroll in an HVAC trade school or other postsecondary non-degree program. These typically take between 10 months and 2 years to complete. The reason schooling is important is that it shows that you are committed to the trade. You might be mechanically inclined but being a good HVAC technician requires other skills. An accredited school will be the best opportunity to learn the necessary skills to set you up for future success.

There are dozens of schools that specialize in HVAC education across the United States. Here in Central Ohio there are two: Fortis’s HVAC program, and Columbus State Community College. At Fortis, students learn how to service and repair commercial refrigeration, gas heat, heat pumps, and air conditioning. Columbus State offers a two-year associate of applied science degree in HVAC technology. They provide– instruction in the principles of refrigeration, load calculations, hand tools and safety, the instrumentation and combustion process, and much more.

What are the skills needed to be an HVAC technician?

There are two sides of the HVAC technician coin. The knowledge and mechanical know-how on one side, and the ability to communicate in a fair, honest, and professional manner. A good technician needs to be able to troubleshoot and identify problems, and communicate the issue effectively to homeowners in a friendly manner. Attention to detail is also important. When a unit is broken, there’s always a logic to fixing it, a sequence of operations. It’s your job to follow the steps to identify the best solution. You also should have a desire to learn new things, whether it’s mechanical, technical, or ways to better communicate.

What are the benefits of working in HVAC?

The HVAC industry is always in demand for experienced technicians. Whether you specialize in industrial, commercial, or residential HVAC, it’s highly likely you will never be without a job. It’s been said that a career in the HVAC industry is recession-proof. Another benefit is you can choose to work virtually anywhere as the skills you learn as a technician can be transferred to wherever HVAC jobs are. 

Working in HVAC also allows you to work someplace different and meet new people every day. It’s not like working on an assembly line and it’s certainly not office work. Additionally, good service technicians are in high demand, and as you develop and hone your skills, your earning potential will increase.

What are the downsides of working as an HVAC technician?

At Fire & Ice we are all about transparency, and working as a residential HVAC technician is hard work. Working as a HVAC technician is a physically demanding job. Unless you’re driving to your next call, you’re likely on your feet or crawling on your knees. On any given day a technician can be lifting an air conditioner onto a pad, removing old furnace equipment, crawling through poorly insulated attics, or working outside in frigid temperatures.

Work is often dirty, and you might pick up a scar or two. On-the job injuries can happen, too, since you’ll be working with heavy equipment, extreme heat or cold, and can be exposed to potentially hazardous materials such as carbon monoxide.

As a technician you can’t be afraid to get dirty. And you’ll likely want to have thick skin. When you’re working directly with customers, there will be days you will get yelled at. Being able to maintain composure is crucial. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for an HVAC technician to be on call in the evenings or weekends.

The last downside to note is that breaking into the industry isn’t easy if you don’t have any prior experience. I won’t say it’s impossible, but without experience, you’ll likely start as a parts runner or as an assistant on installations. If you’re considering an apprenticeship, keep an eye out for opportunities that are most likely to pop up during the busy summer season.

How to stay up to date in the HVAC industry?

Every year HVAC equipment gets more sophisticated. As technology changes, your skills and knowledge of HVAC equipment will need to develop, as well. It’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest technology. Some manufacturers offer ongoing coursework, and there are a few training centers where you can hone your skills. Additionally, obtaining certifications put on by organizations like the North American Technician Excellence are great ways of staying current in HVAC.

What are the next steps?

Let’s talk about what to do next. Whether you’re an experienced HVAC technician, or someone just starting out and exploring your options, we hope you found this video helpful. If you are in Columbus or Central Ohio and want to align yourself with the best in the industry, develop technical skills, and start a career that will set you and your family up for future success, consider joining Fire & Ice Heating and Air Conditioning today. Thank you for watching and we look forward to making your day better.

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