HVAC FAQ: What to Know about Starting a Career in HVAC

hvac technician working on AC

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Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) can be a great career to consider if you enjoy doing mechanical work, working with customers and problem-solving. Around 15,000 more HVAC mechanics and installers will be needed in the U.S. over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

If you’re considering becoming an HVAC technician but have questions about the career or training, you can find some answers in this article:

Q: How do you become an HVAC technician?

HVAC is a specialized field, so technical HVAC training is usually necessary to get an HVAC job. Training can include HVAC classes at a vocational school, an apprenticeship or both. Employers generally like to hire candidates who have had experience already working with HVAC systems under supervised guidance.

Q: How long is HVAC training?

How long is HVAC training? There are different types of HVAC training, which may last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. HVAC classes can be taken at a community college or vocational school and may result in a postsecondary nondegree certificate or an associate degree, depending on the path you choose. Each program might have its own particular requirements that take different lengths of time to complete.

At The Refrigeration School (RSI) in Phoenix, Arizona, for example, you can complete the Refrigeration Technologies program in 6 months. The Associate of Occupational Studies in Mechanical Maintenance Engineering program, on the other hand, takes 15 months to complete.

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Q: What kinds of HVAC jobs are there?

As you are considering an HVAC career, the type of job you ultimately want could be a good indicator of what type of training to pursue. For example, HVAC has different areas of expertise you could focus on, such as refrigeration or solar energy specifically.

If you wanted to focus mostly on refrigeration, for example, a refrigeration-based program like RSI’s Refrigeration Technologies would make sense. On the other hand, the Mechanical Maintenance Engineering program would be more geared towards working on large, complex systems within HVAC.

Here are a few examples of different types of HVAC jobs:


Air Conditioning and Heating

  • Air Conditioning Mechanic
  • Air Conditioning Installer
  • Heating and Cooling Mechanic
  • HVAC Technician

Mechanical Maintenance Engineering

  • Power Plant Field Technician
  • Maintenance Technician
  • Boiler Operator
  • Facilities Maintenance

Green Energy

  • Solar Technician
  • Wind Turbine Technician

Q: Is being an HVAC technician fun?

Different people will enjoy different sorts of activities, and HVAC can be a very rewarding career for the right type of person. Some of the fun things about working in HVAC include:

  • As an HVAC technician, you might visit a variety of different job sites, such as schools or businesses, so you’re never stuck in one place all the time. This could be great for people who like to be on the move, doing and seeing new things all the time.
  • For people who are mechanically minded and love to know how things work, it can be very fun to solve problems about malfunctioning equipment. You could also enjoy the hands-on satisfaction of replacing parts or installing an entire HVAC system. You might be doing something different every day.
  • If you enjoy interacting with different types of people, the customer service aspect of being a technician could be interesting and fun, especially the good feeling that comes from helping someone, like getting an air-conditioning unit up and running again in hundred-degree heat!
  • Even if you’re focused on one area of HVAC, you could be learning new things all the time, which keeps it interesting. The field is changing and growing constantly, so there’s always more to discover, and different career paths you can branch out into if you wanted, such as in the green energy sector.

Q: What’s the difference between residential and commercial HVAC?

Within the field of HVAC, there are lots of different specialties, and deciding whether to focus on residential or commercial HVAC is one part of the career path to consider.

Residential HVAC: Technicians spend most of their time doing house calls to help homeowners or renters install, repair, replace, diagnose or troubleshoot their HVAC systems. You might work alone or in a small team, and the demand may change depending on the time of year, such as right before it gets very hot or very cold. Residential work is more customer-facing, so you could be interacting with different people every day.

Commercial HVAC: This involves doing bigger project work for businesses or other types of large-scale properties, such as schools or restaurants. These projects may last longer, and you will likely work as a part of a team to approach more complex HVAC challenges such as construction or renovation. Commercial work is less customer-facing, and more project-based, so you could enjoy more time and energy focusing on high-level systems thinking.

Q: Do HVAC technicians make good money?

Of course, the pay is an important part of any career decision! While there is going to be a lot of variation between regions, companies, skill sets, experience levels and specializations, HVAC technicians who work hard can make a dignified salary that competes with white collar job salaries.

There is also a level of job security within the field. Maintenance and repair work is relatively stable because people will always need heating and cooling services—including technicians to service their equipment.

Q: Where can I get started with HVAC training?

The Refrigeration School in Phoenix, Arizona, offers a few different great program options for anyone interested in getting their feet wet with HVAC. To learn about the different career paths and training options in Phoenix, you can call the school at 1-480-676-5843.

RSI also has a sister school called Tulsa Welding School in the Houston area, which offers HVAC training, alongside welding. If you’re located in either Arizona or Texas, and you’re interested in an HVAC career path, give us a call today! Call 855-806-4921.

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