What Does an HVAC Technician Do? (Answered)
While we may not always think of indoor spaces this way, it’s interesting to consider that every closed-air space – from homes, offices, and commercial businesses to industrial and large event centers – is an individual micro-environment that must be managed for comfort, safety, and utility.
We want our homes to stay cool during the summer, for instance, and warm during the winter months. The air in large gathering spaces must be well-circulated and safe for breathing. And, large industrial coolers and freezers must remain in working order for goods to remain fresh and local food economies to remain strong.
As such needs remain consistent in the world, and people demand newer, more intelligent, and more efficient systems to achieve these needs, who will they continually turn to? Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technicians, of course. So, you might be wondering what do HVAC technicians do? This blog post provides you with everything you need to know about what HVAC technicians do and what the job entails in much detail.
Before we dive into what HVAC Technicians do, if you’re interested in becoming an HVAC Technician, consider enrolling in FCC’s HVAC Training Program. The program can be completed and you can earn your HVAC diploma in as few as 10 months.
What Does an HVAC Technician Do?
HVAC technicians are skilled professionals who install, repair and maintain heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems that control the quality and temperature of the air inside residential and commercial buildings. HVAC techs accomplish this through the design, installation, testing, control, maintenance, and repair of HVAC systems that keep people cool on hot days, warm during cold days, and breathing air that’s filtered and clean. Such services apply to indoor spaces that are residential, commercial, and industrial in nature.
The typical duties of an HVAC technician include:
- Installing, testing, and maintaining HVAC systems and units
- Troubleshooting systems and repairing/replacing defective parts
- Connecting low-voltage electric wire and components
- Discussing systems, equipment, technologies, and problems with customers
- Balancing systems by adjusting system controls
- Documenting installation and testing records
- Selling equipment and/or future service contracts
How Long Does it Take to Become an HVAC Technician?
Though many states do not require a specialized license to become an HVAC technician, today’s systems and technologies have become so complex that many HVAC employers may still require some sort of post-secondary training and/or education in order to be considered for an apprenticeship or an entry-level position.
The Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program offered at various Florida Career College (FCC) campuses can be completed, and you can earn a diploma in as few as 10 months. The program includes hands-on training in basic electricity, motors, HVAC control, basic refrigeration, air conditioning systems, heating systems and boilers, duct design, blueprint reading, load calculations, commercial refrigeration systems, special equipment, building regulations, automation, and troubleshooting.
The HVAC program at FCC further prepares students for two HVAC certifications that may help students be even more valued and in demand: the EPA Section 608 Certification for Stationary Air Conditioning and Refrigeration and the Universal R-410A Safety Training and Certification.
How Long Does the HVAC Technician Training Program Take to Complete?
Again, the HVAC technician training program at Florida Career College can be completed, and you can earn a diploma in as few as 10 months. This training strives to prepare students to begin an HVAC career selling, installing, and maintaining residential equipment and systems. Our goal is to prepare graduates for entry-level positions such as HVAC technician, air conditioning technician, service technician, HVAC mechanic, refrigeration technician, HVAC specialist, and refrigeration mechanic.
What Does a Day in the Life of an HVAC Technician Look Like?
Typically for HVAC technicians, no two days are the same. While some days may be chock-full of smaller residential home system repairs, others may include full-day installs and/or maintenance work at larger commercial sites. So for HVAC techs, monotony is hardly ever a problem.
So, it may go without saying that most reliable HVAC technicians are flexible when it comes to job or service needs and the ability to solve complex problems, regardless of size. Flexibility in schedule is often also required, as some jobs and customer needs may keep technicians busy into evenings and weekends.
As for a typical day in the life of an HVAC tech, it often begins early in the morning. Once a technician learns his or her schedule or tasks or service calls for the day, he or she will pull together the tools and equipment they’ll anticipate needing before heading on their way to job sites. Depending on individual sites and tasks that need to be accomplished, technicians may find themselves climbing ladders, crawling into small spaces (i.e., attics and crawlspaces), and even on rooftops to fulfill the needs of a customer.
In addition, HVAC technicians will likely find they spend a larger-than-anticipated portion of their day communicating with clients about system needs, repairs, and upgrades. Keeping accurate paperwork is also an essential skill HVAC techs must maintain, whether it’s properly recording system maintenance efforts or simply ordering and billing for new parts and upgrades.
How to Become an HVAC Technician?
Becoming an HVAC technician requires a broad set of hands-on, technical skills that allow you to work with, install, maintain, troubleshoot, fix, and even sell complex systems and high-tech equipment. To achieve this level requires a combination of education, training, and on-the-job experience, and the learning never stops. As new HVAC innovations and technologies hit the market – including smart and “green” technologies – technicians must stay abreast of new regulations, techniques, and installation/maintenance requirements that also evolve.
The learning, however, often begins with some sort of post-secondary education and/or training from a vocational or trade school, such as Florida Career College (FCC). At FCC, for instance, our HVAC program prepares students with the education and hands-on training they need to earn a diploma and be career-ready for an entry-level HVAC position in as few as 10 months.
Some HVAC technicians, however, opt to train through apprenticeship programs. On-the-job training options such as apprenticeships offer a great option for beginners, but apprenticeships take much longer to complete.
Regardless, once one first earns employment as an HVAC technician, he or she will typically start off working alongside a seasoned pro. New HVAC techs often start their careers by performing more basic tasks, like cleaning HVAC systems and running ductwork, before advancing onto more difficult tasks such as installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.
Is it Worth It to Become an HVAC Technician?
HVAC technician is a career worthy of an investment in education, training, and experience. It’s worth it if you maintain the qualities and skills that can make an HVAC technician successful within his or her career. Such attributes include:
- Mechanical Skills: You must be comfortable working with your hands, and your mind as HVAC technicians assemble, install, troubleshoot, repair, and even program complex systems every day.
- Attention to Details: Not only does the success or failure of a full system often come down to minute details, but accurate record-keeping is also a critical aspect of working as an HVAC tech.
- Customer Service Skills: HVAC technicians don’t just work with inanimate objects and mechanical systems. Behind each job is a customer – a resident, business owner, project manager, etc. – so it’s important you feel comfortable working with people.
- Time-Management Skills: Most days, an HVAC technician will respond to a series of service calls, so it’s important he or she can properly manage their time to optimize the workday.
- Troubleshooting: Diagnosing the cause of system problems and issues is a huge part of the job. Whether a system’s not working properly or requires adjustments, you must know how to get to the heart of the issue.
- Physical Attributes: A typical day in the life of an HVAC technician involves lifting and carrying heavy equipment, climbing ladders, crawling in tight spaces, using hand tools, gripping, reaching, pulling … you get the idea.
Are There Certifications to Becoming an HVAC Technician?
Most states do not require a specialized license to work as an HVAC technician within their borders. However, licensing is often required to work with certain materials and perform certain tasks. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires certifications for the purchasing and handling of certain refrigerants.
Fortunately, the HVAC training program at Florida Career College strives to prepare students to earn two of these important certifications: the EPA Section 608 Certification for Stationary Air Conditioning and Refrigeration and the Universal R-410A Safety Training and Certification. By earning these certifications, HVAC technicians generally become more marketable and valuable within their markets.
What are the Pros and Cons of Working as an HVAC Technician?
While our instructors, all of whom are working professionals within the HVAC field, certainly feel that students training to become HVAC technicians are on a rewarding path, we admit they may be a bit biased. Like any career, there are definitely pros and cons of training to become an HVAC technician. Here are a few of each:
Pros of HVAC Career
- On-the-job training. In other words, the more you work, the more you know, and the more valuable you become.
- Work anywhere. HVAC technicians are needed all across the country.
- Lots of opportunities for specialization. Depending on the needs of your local market, you can specialize in heating, air conditioning, air quality, refrigeration, green or ‘smart’ technologies, etc.
- You’re helping people. Living and breathing safely and comfortably in a house is part of what makes it a home.
Cons of HVAC Career
- Long hours. Days generally begin early in the morning and can last into the evenings, depending on service calls and the time of year. And, weekend service calls are not atypical.
- Lifelong learning is required. It’s important to always stay up-to-date and trained on new system and equipment technologies, processes, standards, requirements, techniques, and so on. But honestly, is this really a bad thing?
- Safety is always a concern. Not only can the job be physical in nature, but an HVAC technician will sometimes have to work with chemicals and materials that can be potentially dangerous (i.e., refrigerants). That said, all HVAC techs should be fully trained in safety procedures through education, experience, and necessary certifications.