Today’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technicians are highly skilled mechanics who keep our homes, businesses, and public facilities heated and cooled to a temperate climate.
In this article, we discuss the role of HVAC technicians along with a few pros and cons of working in this profession.
What is an HVAC Technician?
These maintenance professionals work behind the scenes and apply their skills to installing, maintaining, and repairing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems around the country.
They work on various-sized projects that can range from small residential homes to large colleges, universities, airports, and industrial facilities.
While some HVAC technicians learn from hands-on experience and on-the-job training, others learn the trade through apprenticeships, HVAC certificate programs, or degree programs offered by local colleges and universities.
Where Do HVAC Technicians Work?
- Residential Homes
- Factories and Distribution Centers
- Maintenance Companies
- Building Management Firms
- Government Facilities
Pros of Being an HVAC Technician
Thinking about becoming an HVAC/R tech? Experienced HVAC technicians who highly recommend it report some of the following pros of working as an entry-level technician.
Pro #1. – High Demand – Steady Work
HVAC systems are essential components of our homes and businesses, and we need these systems functioning year-round to heat and cool our indoor air to a comfortable temperature.
HVAC technicians work in residential settings and commercial settings, which means they can find work as independent contractors in residential homes or as employees of Schools, homes, businesses, hospitals, and governments.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for certified HVAC/R technicians to remain steady, and they predict a job growth rate of at least five percent between now and 2031.
Pro #2. – Diverse Work Environments and Travel Opportunities
HVAC technicians who enjoy working in a variety of different environments appreciate the fact that no two work environments will be the same.
Working in residential homes and commercial businesses gives the HVAC tech a unique perspective and a glimpse into the inner workings of popular restaurants, hotels, and amusement places that most of the public won’t ever get to see.
They often have the option to choose their work environment and location, which allows them to travel and explore during downtime.
Pro #3. – Competitive Pay Among Entry-Level Positions
Many new HVAC technicians are surprised to learn that this profession is one of the best-paying entry-level careers that doesn’t require a college degree, diploma, or established technical skills.
America’s BLS reports say the average salary for entry-level HVAC techs in the US is just under fifty thousand dollars a year.
Technicians can see substantial salary boosts after gaining experience in the field and becoming certified by specialty and high-paying employers.
Pro #4. – Independence, Empowerment, and Autonomy
One of the best parts of working as an HVAC/R tech is that you rarely have someone looking over your shoulder or “micromanaging” your work.
Highly skilled techs work independently or in small teams, which allows a notable level of empowerment, autonomy, and decision-making on the job.
We can find HVAC repair people working independently in boiler rooms, basements, and rooftops where they are unlikely to come into contact with anyone who isn’t a part of their work crew.
Pro # 5. – High Level of Job Satisfaction and Sense of Accomplishment
Restoring much-needed heating, cooling, and refrigeration services to the public can leave HVAC pros with a strong sense of accomplishment and job satisfaction.
The work HVAC technicians do directly impact the lives of their fellow community members, and they are often unsung heroes who keep our homes, businesses, schools, and institutions accessible to the public.
Cons of Being an HVAC Technician
While working as a tech has many upsides, there are also a few downsides reported by techs already working in the field.
The following are some of the downsides of working as an HVAC/R tech.
Con #1. – Physically Demanding Workload
Working as an HVAC technician depends largely on physical movements.
Making HVAC repairs often requires bending, twisting, lifting, pulling, and carrying in uncomfortable or complex environments for extended periods.
The job of HVAC techs is physically demanding as their role relies on them installing, repairing, or maintaining heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems stored in out-of-the-way sections of buildings like basements or rooftops and they can’t leave these environments until the work is done.
Con #2. HVAC Technicians Work in High-Stress Situations and Volatile Environments
Many of the jobs assigned to HVAC techs are in the midst of high-stress situations or environments.
Technicians can be called to install or repair HVAC/R systems in hospitals, police stations, rehabilitation facilities, and mental health institutions.
The job can become even more stressful when the demands of clients and people suffering from a lack of air conditioning or heating become insistent.
Technicians can become incredibly stressed when called in for emergency repairs or when dealing with challenging clients.
Con #3. – Unpredictable Work Hours for On-Call Technicians
HVAC equipment installed in homes and commercial environments operates around the clock and can break down any time of the day or night.
Working as an independent contractor or with an HVAC company often means technicians are on call for services at any time of the day or night.
Being on call can result in a highly unpredictable work schedule as technicians and customers cannot predict when their heating and cooling systems may spring a leak or experience a shutdown.
Con #4. – Physical Risks and Exposure
A key component of working as an HVAC technician is that they are exposed to chemicals like refrigerant that can be toxic or explosive.
While proper training and education can mitigate the risk of refrigerant-related accidents that can lead to fires or other hazards, accidents can happen, and prospective technicians should be aware.
Other job-related hazards for technicians working on heating and cooling systems include electrical hazards, fires, slip and fall accidents.
Con #5 – Job Complexity
The job of an HVAC/R technician can be complex.
They are required to learn a variety of skills for installing, repairing, and maintaining the latest refrigeration, air conditioning, and heating technology.
Technicians must also keep up with the pace of technology, which means learning computer skills for billing jobs as independent contractors and maintaining digital thermostats.
10 Pros and Cons of Being an HVAC Technician – Summary Table
|Pros of Being an HVAC Technician||Cons of Being an HVAC Technician|
|Pro #1. - High Demand - Steady Work||Con #1. - Physically Demanding Workload|
|Pro #2. - Diverse Work Environments and Travel Opportunities||Con #2. HVAC Technicians Work in High Stress Situations and Volatile Environments|
|Pro #3. - Competitive Pay Among Entry-Level Positions||Con #3. - Unpredictable Work Hours for On-Call Technicians|
|Pro #4. - Independence, Empowerment and Autonomy||Con #4. - Physical Risks and Exposure|
|Pro # 5. - High Level of Job Satisfaction and Sense of Accomplishment||Con #5 - Job Complexity|
Should You Become an HVAC Technician?
Now that you understand the role of an HVAC technician and what they do – is becoming an HVAC tech the career pathway for you?
If so, be prepared to learn the vast array of skills required to become certified and work as an HVAC technician according to the rules and regulations of your state.
The following are examples of basic skills that entry-level HVAC technicians should have.
HVAC/R Technician – Required Skills
Customer Service Skills: Today’s HVAC/R techs need excellent customer service skills to communicate verbally and in writing with customers, partners, and vendors.
They need active listening skills to assess client needs and resolve emergency issues quickly.
Green Technology: Technicians must understand green technology to keep pace with the growing demand for more energy-efficient HVAC systems.
A large segment of the population demands these systems as they become aware of the global impacts of non-green technology use on our world.
Energy-efficient systems save customers money on heating, cooling, and refrigeration costs.
They are expected to remain in high demand as more customers learn about reducing the adverse effects on the environment.
HVAC Education or Training: Installing, repairing, and maintaining complex HVAC systems requires a broad range of skills.
New technicians need training to learn about the principles of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration skills.
They must also learn to read blueprints and schematics to diagnose and troubleshoot problems and follow safety procedures to prevent accidents.
Installation Skills: Technicians can acquire installation skills through a combination o of self-study, on-the-job training, and certification courses designed for HVAC students.
Maintenance Skills: A large part of an HVAC tech’s job is maintaining installed equipment.
They will need to learn HVAC maintenance skills through a traditional education route, apprenticeship, or by enrolling in a certificate program offered by a local college, university, or workforce development agency.
Repair Skills: Many HVAC systems break down due to incorrect installation, overuse, incorrect use, or normal wear and tear.
Technicians must be skilled at diagnosing and repairing a wide variety of heating, cooling, and refrigeration technologies as a daily component of their job.
Smart Technology: Many of today’s heating, cooling, and refrigeration appliances are equipped with intelligent technology that allows them to be controlled through digital devices like cell phones and tablets when connected to the Internet of Things.
Innovative technology is being used in these new appliances to regulate settings, customize temperatures, and manage a variety of climate-related settings using a connected device.
If you’re looking for job stability, a diverse working environment, and a competitive salary and are willing to learn the skills listed above, take the next step and learn more about this profession and what is required to work as a certified HVAC technician in your state.