Due to the high market demand, promising job opportunities, and comfortable pay, technical careers have become and will continue to be in demand. And HVAC technician is one of such technical careers.
A career in HVAC involves maintaining, installing, managing, and repairing heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems, as well as other related equipment.
So, if you’re thinking about whether HVAC is a good career choice, you’ll find out everything you ought to know about a career in HVAC in this article.
Table of contents
- What is an HVAC System?
- What Does an HVAC Technician Do?
- Is HVAC a Good Career?
- What A Day in the Life of a HVAC Technician Looks Like
- Is HVAC a Good Career: Career Paths
- Is HVAC a Good Career Choice: Job Outlook
- Is HVAC a Good Career For Mechanical Engineers?
- Is HVAC a Good Career Choice: How to Become One in 2023?
- Where Can HVAC Technicians Work?
What is an HVAC System?
HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, and refers to the technology and equipment used to regulate indoor environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and air quality. An HVAC system is designed to provide thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality for residential, commercial, or industrial buildings.
Here are some of the key components of an HVAC system:
- Heating: This component of the HVAC system provides warmth to the indoor environment by generating and distributing heat. Common types of heating systems include furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps.
- Ventilation: Ventilation systems in HVAC work to exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air. This process removes pollutants and ensures that there is adequate oxygen in the indoor environment. Ventilation systems can include mechanical ventilation, such as air ducts, or natural ventilation, such as windows.
- Air Conditioning: The air conditioning component of the HVAC system provides cooling and dehumidification to the indoor environment. Common types of air conditioning systems include central air conditioning, window units, and split systems.
- Thermostat: The thermostat is the control center for the HVAC system. It allows users to adjust the temperature, set schedules, and control the heating and cooling functions of the system.
How Does an HVAC System Work?
The HVAC system performs several functions which are related because they both make sure the home has a moderate temperature. The HVAC system has eight parts, which include:
1. Air return
This is the first process of the ventilation cycle. In this cycle, the system first takes in air and filters it. Then it sends it to the primary system, and this is when we receive the air. Always make sure your system and filter are clean for clean air.
It is the second process of the ventilation cycle. Here, the air passes through to make sure it is clean and conducive to the dominant system. Always clean it properly and change it based on the time given by the HVAC technician.
3. Exhaust outlet
Another part of the system is the exhaust outlet. Here, the exhaust created by the heating system is eliminated through the chimney or vent stack. Keeping the vent spaces free is good for the house and it should be maintained annually.
This is the pathway where heated or cooled air goes through. Maintenance is key to keeping all these up and running. And it should be cleaned every 2 to 5 years.
5. Electrical elements
This is the most important part of the entire system. Anything that happens to the HVAC system starts from the electrical. A technician should always be available to make rounds just to make sure there are no issues with the complete system.
6. Outdoor unit
The outdoor unit is the part of the system that makes sure that the fan outside functions well to provide good airflow. If anything hinders the outdoor fan, then it will obstruct the flow of air into the house.
The compressor is part of the outdoor unit and it makes sure that the air that passes through the pipe is cool.
The blower takes in warm air through the outdoor unit. If this air moves well then the system will be good.
What Does an HVAC Technician Do?
HVAC technicians work on HVAC systems in residential buildings and commercial buildings. Their work involves installing, repairing, managing, and maintaining heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems.
Connecting wires, welding pipes, testing electrical circuits, reading blueprints, testing for pipes leak, etc are also part of the tasks associated with HVAC technicians.
If you want to know more about this profession, consider: What does an HVAC technician do? Salary, Skills, Schools
Is HVAC a Good Career?
Now, to the most important question — isHVAC a good career choice? Truth is, HVAC is a rewarding career full of employment prospects and mouthwatering pay. However, whether HVAC is a wonderful career shouldn’t be much of a problem for you. Rather, check yourself to see if you can do this type of work.
- You must know the nitty-gritty behind heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigerating systems.
- You must develop the zeal to learn on the job and be energizing.
- The job requires that you travel. Hence, travel to various site locations to perform maintenance and installation works.
- Be able to adapt to different projects and work environments, whether commercial or residential.
- You’ll be expected to possess troubleshooting skills for day-to-day challenges.
Again, if you’re innovative and love solving technical problems, a career as a HVAC technician might be the right fit for you. HVAC technicians apply their knowledge of math, system analysis, physics, engineering, design, and HVAC theory to real-life HVAC problems.
Getting an HVAC certification can be faster than you think. Consider: How To Get HVAC Certification Very Fast In 2023
What A Day in the Life of a HVAC Technician Looks Like
HVAC technicians work with companies that service, repair, maintain, install, and troubleshoot HVACR systems. HVAC technicians resolve all issues related to heating, ventilation, air conditioning, or refrigeration systems.
So, here’s what a typical day on the job of a HVAC technician involves. However, this depends on where you work:
- Test tube or pipe joints for leakages
- Replace cleaning ducts, filters, etc to enhance system performance
- Repair or test defective units
- Install timers, humidistats, and thermostats
- Assemble HVACR systems and mount equipment
- Install brand new HVACR units (either in a commercial or residential building)
- Test electrical components or circuits
- Drill holes in buildings
- Connect HVACR units to fuel, electrical, and water sources
- Read HVAC equipment directives and blueprints
Is HVAC a Good Career: Career Paths
- HVAC Service Director
- HVAC Controls Systems Engineer
- HVAC Maintenance Director
- Chief Mechanical Engineer
- HVAC Service Manager
- HVAC Controls Technician
- HVAC Maintenance Manager
- HVAC Refrigeration Technician
- HVAC/R Maintenance Tech
- HVAC/R Tech
Is HVAC a Good Career Choice: Job Outlook
With the right knowledge, skill sets, and HVAC training, the market is favorable for HVAC technicians. Hence, the future and job opportunities for a career in HVAC are very promising.
As the construction, industrial, and infrastructural industries continue to develop, employment opportunities for HVAC technicians will keep increasing.
Is HVAC a Good Career For Mechanical Engineers?
Generally, HVAC is mechanically inclined and among the mechanical engineer’s occupational group. Therefore, as a mechanical engineer, you can develop your career in the HVAC field.
HVAC tasks are related to mechanical engineering because they’re mechanically inclined. Hence, if you’re thinking about whether HVAC is a wonderful career for mechanical engineers, you thought right.
With a degree in mechanical engineering, there are a lot of jobs you can do. Consider: Types Of Mechanical Engineering Jobs: Full Career Guide
Is HVAC a Good Career Choice: How to Become One in 2023?
In any career path you choose to take, there will always be steps to follow in order to achieve it. Therefore, to become a HVAC technician, you need to do:
1. Acquire a high school diploma
In most cases, a high school diploma is required before you can start your journey in HVAC. For those still in high school looking to start an HVAC career, they should pique interest in courses like computer science, physics, mathematics, and shop classes. Other vocational studies like mechanical drawing, blueprint reading, technical math, etc. should be taken advantage of.
2. Acquire an HVAC certificate
Keep in mind that, it is not only high school graduates that can enroll for this certification. Even university graduates can also enroll in the program and get certified. Though it is not compulsory to get this certification, some states have their rules regarding some careers.
At most, it takes 9 months to gain a HVAC certificate, and during this period you will be put through some courses and training which comprises diagnostic training, how to make use of the tools and equipment, and also the principles of electronics, mechanics, and electricity.
3. Complete an internship
This is also another step to becoming a HVAC engineer. Although theories and practicals were taught in the class, you still need real-life experience to understand the job better.
Some companies do not pay interns, while some give them stipends just to aid them with their daily expenses. Your internship can last as long as three to five years and with that, companies can employ you as a full staff because of the long experience.
4. Enroll for other certifications
Asides from HVAC, there are other certifications that you can look into. Certifications like NATE (North-American Technicians Excellence) is a non-governmental organization that certifies every HVAC technician in North America.
However, for you to be certified by NATE, you will need to be knowledgeable in the job, use of tools, heat transfer, general safety, and measurements.
There are different levels of certifications offered by NATE— certification on commercial furnaces, residential boilers, heat pump pool heaters, and metal fabrication.
The refrigerant certification has three levels which include certification for servicing small appliances, for servicing high-pressure systems, and for working on low-pressure systems.
Where Can HVAC Technicians Work?
Certified HVAC technicians are always needed in our everyday life, it just depends on your level of expertise. We expect the number of jobs for those who are HVAC certified to grow from now till 2026. Meanwhile, HVAC technicians can work either in companies, construction sites, or as contractors.
The newly certified technicians can work as air-conditioning installers, HVAC assistants, maintenance officers, or refrigerant mechanics. The mid-level technicians can work as maintenance managers, controls technicians, and service managers. Whereas, the professionals can then work as chief mechanical engineers, maintenance directors, and service directors.
We have established what HVAC stands for and what HVAC technicians do. If the required maintenance and changes are done when they should be done then everything should be good. Also know that none of the HVAC systems work independently, if one system is bad it affects the other one.
HVAC is a good career as its job outlook for the future is promising. HVAC technicians earn a comfortable salary, hence mechanical engineers can develop their careers in this field.
Yes, the job is demanding. But as time goes by with you putting in your time and efforts, it becomes something you enjoy and can’t live without. It is seen as demanding because you learn a lot of things from how to read blueprints to how to work on heaters to how to work on an AC system, etc.
This career can be learned in two ways— through formal education or by learning on the job. Most people learn on the job and that is why it seems difficult for them. But when you learn about it in colleges or universities, you get theoretical knowledge of it, and then learning on the job only helps you practice
The existence of seasons and also the need to build residences and commercial buildings have increased the need for these technicians. It is reportedly said that, by 2026, its demand will increase by 15%.
As it is in every organization, as your position and experience increase, your annual salary also increases. HVAC entry-level technicians earn an average annual salary of $48,000. And if we are to check per hour, it is $23. So, if you happen to work for 10hours, then it will be $23 x10=$230 per day. From calculations, they earn better than most white-collar jobs.
The AC system is part of ventilation. It is also known as mechanical ventilation because it releases cool air.
- Intercoast.edu — Become a HVAC Technician
- Acsuk.org — What is HVAC and how is it different from air-conditioning
- Brennanheating.com — How does HVAC system work
- Petro.com — What is HVAC