HVAC technicians play an important role in the modern workforce. They help to maintain and install various types of air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration systems.
Given how widespread these systems are, it’s highly likely that there will always be a demand in the job marketplace for HVAC technicians. Maybe that’s got you thinking that this could be the right career path for you.
But before you commit to becoming an HVAC technician, you’ll likely want to know what an average day looks in this career.
A day in the life of an HVAC technician
A typical shift as an HVAC technician will begin around 8:00 or 9:00 AM. Most workers begin the day by going to their company’s office and seeing which tasks they’ve been assigned for the day.
After that, the HVAC technician will typically gather their tools, put on their safety gear, and drive themselves to their first client’s location.
Once the HVAC tech has completed the tasks that the client needs help with, they’ll drive to the next location. That will continue until the HVAC technician is finished for the day, which typically happens around 5:00 PM.
An HVAC technician’s day will usually end back at their office. They’ll put away their tools, change out of their safety gear, and clock out once they’ve completed their documentation of the day’s work.
Role and responsibilities of HVAC technicians
TYPICAL JOB DESCRIPTION
A typical job description for an HVAC technician will highlight the skillset that’s needed to perform adequately in the position. This usually means being able to complete tasks such as:
- Removing old HVAC systems
- Installing new HVAC systems
- Diagnosing problems in HVAC systems and making repairs
- Performing routine maintenance tasks
- Communicating with clients, team members, and supervisors
These are the main tasks that the average HVAC technician completes throughout a normal day, however, no two days are exactly alike for someone in this role. An HVAC technician may spend one day working exclusively on tearing out an old air conditioning system and the next performing routine maintenance, for example.
EDUCATION AND ASPIRATION
It’s technically possible to get hired as an HVAC technician with just a high school diploma or a GED. That being said, within an increasingly competitive job market, the majority of HVAC technicians now have at least some type of post-secondary training.
There are two main options you have here. The first is to pursue a degree or certificate in HVAC, which you can get from a trade school, technical college, or community college. These programs generally take between 1-2 years to complete.
The second main option is to pursue an apprenticeship. These typically take about 3-5 years to complete and you can find them through local trade unions and technical schools.
While each method of training will prepare you to be a successful HVAC technician, an apprenticeship is usually longer and features more hands-on training. Choosing to complete an apprenticeship may help you feel more prepared for your first job as an HVAC technician, while also allowing you to earn an income while you train.
IS IT THE RIGHT PROFESSION FOR YOU?
People who are an ideal fit for a job as an HVAC technician tend to have a certain set of qualities and traits. For example, this may be the right profession for you if you possess some of these characteristics:
- Mechanical skills
- Troubleshooting skills
- Ability to work well independently
- Strong customer service skills
- Time management
That being said, don’t fret if you don’t have these skills yet. If you’re committed to becoming an HVAC technician, you work on developing these skills. In fact, that’s part of what you’ll be doing while you pursue either an apprenticeship or a post-secondary education in HVAC.
Working hours and average salary
Working hours and salary are two additional factors to think about while considering whether this career is right for you. Here’s an overview of each of those.
HVAC technicians typically drive to their clients’ houses and places of business. That means their “office” is never exactly the same place. There are some pros and cons to this.
On the positive side, the changing working environment can help keep the job feeling fresh. No two days are ever quite the same so it’s difficult to fall into a rut as an HVAC technician.
That being said, it also means that HVAC technicians are usually constantly on the go. They will typically spend a good part of the day driving, which may get tiring after a while.
The average HVAC technician works standard business hours. That generally means something like 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
But HVAC emergencies happen and it’s an HVAC technician’s job to respond to them when they occur. That means you may sometimes need to work at odd hours depending on the company that you work for and the specifics of the role that you’re hired for.
It’s also worth mentioning that some HVAC technicians work outdoors, in cramped spaces, or other harsh environments. Whether you have to do that or not will depend on the specific HVAC technician job that you get.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $50,590 is the average annual salary for an HVAC technician.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is how much you will make. The highest-earning 10% of HVAC technicians made $80,820 and the lowest-earning 10% made $31,910.
Several factors can impact the salary offers that you receive. One is your location – the average annual salary for an HVAC technician in Washington state is $65,180, but that number dips to $44,990 for HVAC technicians in Alabama.
Another big factor that can influence your pay is the specific type of HVAC work that you do. For example, HVAC techs that work in educational services make $54,260 per year on average, while those that work as contractors make an average of $49,240 annually.
Finally, experience is the last important factor that can influence the amount you get paid as an HVAC technician. But this is self-explanatory. Individuals with more experience tend to earn higher salaries than workers that are just starting out.
Pros and Cons of being an HVAC technician
Most HVAC technicians get to spend the majority of their day out on the road and in their clients’ homes working without any supervision. This can be rewarding as it gives you the freedom to work on each job in whatever way you think is best. You likely will rarely have to worry about being micro-managed in this career.
Automation and outsourcing are transforming the American job market, and many jobs that previously felt vital are no longer hiring U.S. workers. However, industrial service workers like HVAC technicians are unlikely to have to worry about this.
It’s impossible to outsource this job to someone in another country because you need someone physically in the client’s house to fix their problem. Additionally, it would likely be impossible to automate the precise and technically creative work that an HVAC technician does with our current technology.
That means if you decide to pursue this job, you can have a decent level of confidence that it’s still going to be around over the coming decades.
LOWER TRAINING REQUIREMENTS THAN MANY SIMILAR SALARY JOBS
The average salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in the United States is $51,212. That’s almost exactly how much HVAC technicians make.
The only difference is that you would often need to spend four years (and a lot of money) to earn a bachelor’s degree. However, you can get the training you need to become a skilled HVAC technician in as little as six months.
CAN BE PHYSICALLY DEMANDING
One of the downsides of becoming an HVAC technician is that the job can get physically demanding. Depending on the type of work that you do, you may end up spending a lot of time working in tight spaces.
It’s also likely that you’ll spend some time working outdoors. This can be quite demanding during the hot months of summer and uncomfortable during the winter.
SKILLS MATTER MORE THAN DEGREES AND CERTIFICATIONS
Another factor to think about as you look for jobs as an HVAC technician is that employers tend to care more about what you can actually do than what your degree says you can.
While this makes sense, it can be unfortunate because many employers will also only hire you if you have a degree. So you may end up needing to spend some time developing your real-world HVAC skills after you get a degree or certification before you can find a job.
Use Rock The Trades to Learn More
Wondering if becoming a HVAC technician could be a great next step in your career? To find out more and get started, download the Rock the Trades app. It’s packed with all of the resources that you need to become a successful HVAC.
So why wait? Download the RTT app today to take the first step towards your next career.