An HVAC tech, a plumber, and an electrician’s responsibilities overlap at times.
As such, it can confuse someone who doesn’t know which career path to take.
In this guide, you’ll be given a comparative overview of the three to help you in the decision-making.
Based on the skills you possess, you can choose the career that will help you grow and realize your full potential.
Similarities and Differences between an HVAC Technician, a Plumber, and an Electrician
Take a look at the table below for a comparison of the three professions.
|Job description||Work on HVAC systems to control the temperature and air quality||Install and repair water, gas, and other piping systems||Install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems|
|Common responsibilities||Install, clean, and maintain HVAC systems|
Install electrical components and wiring
Inspect and test HVAC systems and components
Discuss system malfunctions with customers
Repair or replace worn or defective parts
Recommend maintenance to improve system performance
Keep records of work performed
|Prepare cost estimates for clients|
Read blueprints and follow state and local building codes
Determine the materials and equipment needed for a job
Install pipes and fixtures
Inspect and test installed pipe systems and pipelines
Troubleshoot malfunctioning systems
Maintain and repair plumbing systems
|Read blueprints or technical diagrams|
Install and maintain wiring, control, and lighting systems
Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
Identify electrical problems using a variety of testing devices
Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electrical Code
Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment
Other places with pipes and related systems
|Education||HVAC programs offered in technical and trade schools or community colleges||Plumbing courses offered in vocational-technical schools||Electrician courses offered in technical schools|
|Program length||6 months to 2 years||2 years||Certificate programs – less than 1 year|
Associate’s degree – about 2 years
|Training||On-the-job training as part of the program|
3- to 5-year apprenticeship program
|4- to 5-year apprenticeship program||4- to 5-year apprenticeship program|
|Important personal qualities||Customer-service skills|
Attention to detail
Physical strength and stamina
Physical strength and stamina
|Certification and license||EPA certification exam|
Need for a licensure exam will vary by state
|Licensure exam for:||Licensure exam for:|
|Average salary||Hourly – $23.38|
Annually – $48,630
|Hourly – $28.79|
Annually – $59,880
|Hourly – $28.87|
Annually – $60,040
|Job outlook (from 2020 to 2030)||5% projected growth||5% projected growth||9% projected growth|
Information sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with all figures as of May 2021
All three professions are in demand on the market today.
So, you should rely on your mindset, skills, and expectations to make a clear and decisive career choice.
Remember: Building and environmental codes are becoming stricter.
It has now increased the demand for qualified and committed experts in all three fields.
This page is also available in Spanish.