How to Start a Promising Career As an HVAC Technician

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jun 19, 2018

Jun 19, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

If you want a new promising career, you should become an HVAC technician. HVAC is an acronym which stands for heating, ventilation, air, and cooling. You'll work on heaters, air conditioners, and refrigeration systems.

You'll likely work for a firm, but there are opportunities for entrepreneurship. There are also specialization options, such as system replacements or air conditioning repair.

HVAC techs make a decent salary -- the median is around $45,000. Expect to work full-time, and you can even get overtime benefits.

If you want to start a new career in the HVAC field, read this guide and know how to be successful.

Training and Licensing

Before you start working in HVAC, you'll need proper training and licensing. In order to effectively work on HVAC systems, you'll need a thorough understanding of their mechanisms and how to repair or replace them.

School

First, you'll need to attend school. This is necessary because training is the first step to achieving your HVAC certifications.

You'll also get an HVAC learning license at a community college, technical or trade school -- but you need to ensure your school is accredited in your state.

HVAC training courses can take anywhere between six months and two years to complete.

Apprenticeship

If you want to skip school, you can do an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is beneficial for all HVAC technicians, even ones who attended school. You'll learn skills on-the-job, have professional experience and will gain connections.

Apprenticeships usually last between three and five years and are usually paid.

State Certification

Once you have your learning certification and finished your apprenticeship, you need to be recognized by your state. You'll have to earn your HVAC state license to work as an HVAC technician.

Each state is different; some training programs are more comprehensive than others, and some states don't even require certification.

If your state does require certification, you'll have to pass an exam. There are different exams for different specializations.

You can also opt to be certified by NATE, or the North American Technician Excellence. This isn't required but looks good on your resume.

What Does an HVAC Technician Do?

Depending on the state you're in, becoming an HVAC technician is fairly easy. But to know if the HVAC industry is truly right for you, you should know what an HVAC technician does to ensure the job is right for you.

Here's a quick brief:

  • Oversee installations
  • HVAC troubleshooting and repair
  • Apply local HVAC codes
  • Provide excellent customer service
  • Act as technical support
  • If applicable, collaborate with sales and marketing to determine product specifications and marketing needs
  • If applicable, be on-call after hours (some HVAC companies operate 24 hours a day)

These job duties change if you decide to specialize in a specific field.

How to Get a Job

Now that you're a certified and experienced HVAC technician, it's time to get a job.

But how do you find HVAC jobs? Job postings, job searches and job fairs, and recruiters can help you. Always have a resume and cover letter ready to submit to employers.

While you're applying, understand what employers are looking for.

What Do Employers Expect From HVAC Techs?

All companies are different, but most have the same core standards for their HVAC technicians. This includes:

Following Safety Standards

Safety is the most important aspect of an HVAC technician's job. HVAC systems can be pretty dangerous. You're not only concerned about your safety, but the customers' safety.

In your training -- whether from school or from your apprenticeship -- you were taught safety standards. Your employer expects you to know these safety standards and to follow them while on the job.

Follow Company Rules

Each company will have their own set of rules and will expect you to abide them. While working, you work out of customers' houses and usually without supervision.

Your employer puts a lot of trust in you, so you'll need to follow the company rules while on the job.

Work Diligently

Chances are, you'll be assigned a project, and then you're on to the next project.

Because time is a factor, you're expected to work fast, but the job has to be well-done. Not many second chances are given in the HVAC industry, so you need to work hard.

Be Independent But Follow Directions

Since you're usually working independently, your employer needs to be sure you can work alone without supervision.

But you also need to follow directions. Some projects can be more demanding, and your employer needs to know they can count on you.

Soft Skills

In addition to technical skills and knowledge, your employer will look at your soft skills. These skills will determine the success of your career and will improve your relationships with your employer and your customers.

These skills include:

  • Good listening skills
  • Speaking well
  • Time management skills
  • Intellectual and critical thinking skills

Keep these skills in mind when applying for jobs.

Entrepreneurship

Would you rather just skip the job search and start your own business?

Owning an HVAC business gives you more flexibility and credibility. It's best to work for someone else before starting your own business, but you can keep entrepreneurship as an option if you don't enjoy working for another company.

Your business will be more successful if you choose a specialization. If you would rather serve all HVAC duties, then be sure you're trained in all of them.

After you decide your company structure and create a business plan, get your business licenses. For an HVAC industry, you'll need an LLC or a sole proprietorship (if you're the only staff member).

From here, grow your customer base by marketing and partnering with other companies.

Time to Excel in the HVAC Field

When you become an HVAC technician, you're opening yourself up for a stable and successful career. Before your career begins, you need to know the beginning process.

Getting your education, training, and certifications is essential. From here, you can find a job or start your own business.

If you're looking for a job in the HVAC industry, search for an open position.