If you are looking for a new career path that offers great employment opportunities and the potential to earn an attractive income, you might want to pursue a career in Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC) systems field.  As an HVAC technician, you will be responsible for installing, maintaining and repairing heating and air-conditioning units.  In order to become qualified to work as an HVAC technician, however, you will need to complete the proper training and instruction first.  Depending upon the route you take, the training component can take as little as six months to complete.  Regardless of the program you select, you should be able to be trained for an HVAC technician position in 2 years or less.

Taking a Closer Look at the Work

In many cases, an HVAC technician will specialize in either installation and maintenance of HVAC systems or in repairing these systems.  Some may also specialize in just heating or air conditioning work, but all HVAC technicians are trained in all aspects of the job.

Regardless of your area of specialization, you will be called upon to work with a variety of different electrical and mechanical components.  Some of these include pumps, compressors, motors, ducts, fans, thermostats, pipes and switches.  In order to repair heating and air conditioning systems, you must be able to troubleshoot the problem and then make the necessary adjustments to system controls.  In addition, you will need to use special tools and equipment to test the overall performance of the system.  Some of the testing equipment commonly used by HVAC technicians includes combustion analyzers, carbon monoxide testers, oxygen testers and carbon dioxide testers.

HVAC technicians must be able to follow blueprints and other types of mechanical and electrical specifications in order to install heating and air conditioning systems.  They must also be able to install water and fuel supply lines as well as vents, air ducts and pumps.  Once the system is installed, the HVAC technician is also responsible for performing routine maintenance on the system and completing any other necessary repairs.  When performing these duties, the HVAC technician must take care to properly recover and recycle the refrigerants used in air conditioning units and refrigeration systems, as they chemicals can potentially be harmful to the environment.

There are many tools that the HVAC technician must be adept at using.  Some of these include:

  • Acetylene Torches
  • Electric Drills
  • Hammers
  • Manometers
  • Measurement Gauges
  • Metal Snips
  • Pipe Benders
  • Pipe Cutters
  • Pressure Gauges
  • Thermometers
  • Voltmeters
  • Wrenches

HVAC technicians also use special testing devices to help them check refrigerant pressure, airflow, burners, electrical circuits, and more.

HVAC Working Conditions

HVAC technicians may be asked to work in a variety of different settings, including homes, hospitals, retail establishments, factories and office buildings.  When installing heating and air conditioning systems in buildings that are being newly constructed, the HVAC technician may be exposed to very cold or hot weather elements.  When making repairs to these systems, the temperature may also be unpleasant since the heating or air conditioning system is damaged and is not providing the necessary climate control.

There are also a number of hazards a HVAC technician must take steps to avoid.  If proper safety procedures are not followed, the HVAC technician may accidentally get burned or shocked.  He or she may also experience muscle strain or other similar injuries if heavy equipment is not handled properly.  In addition, if the proper procedures are not followed when handling refrigerants, the HVAC technician may suffer from skin damage such as frostbite and even blindness.

Becoming an HVAC Technician

Although some HVAC technicians learn the trade through on-the-job training, most either complete an apprenticeship or attend a trade school.  Community colleges and junior colleges also offer HVAC programs, which generally can be completed in 6 months to 2 years.  Some of the coursework typically included in these programs includes:

  • Electronics
  • Equipment Construction
  • Equipment Design
  • Installation Basics
  • Maintenance Basics
  • Repair Basics
  • Temperature Control

Three different accrediting agencies are responsible for establishing the academic standards that must be met by these programs.  These include the National Center for Construction Education and Research, HVAC Excellence and the Partnerships for Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Accreditation.

In order to work as an HVAC technician, most states require their technicians to obtain special licensure. Obtaining the licensure requires passing an examination, which varies from state to state.  After passing the examination and obtaining the proper licensure, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that HVAC technicians can expect their employment opportunities to grow as quickly as the average occupation.  Opportunities for those who have completed training through a formal apprenticeship or accredited technical school are expected to enjoy excellent opportunities for employment.  In addition, the median hourly wage for HVAC technicians was $18.11 in May of 2006 with many earning more than $30 per hour, which means you can also expect to enjoy a rather handsome income if you choose to become a HVAC technician.

Do you think you might be interested in a career as an HVAC technician.  If so, you may want to browse a list of schools in Florida offering HVAC training programs.