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One of the most common things we have today and use on a regular basis is air conditioning systems.
They can be found in residential buildings and commercial establishments, industrial institutions, hospitals, schools and more.
If the air conditioner breaks down in the times of unbearable heat, not only can it be inconvenient but also dangerous.
Some people, especially kids and senior citizens, can suffer heatstroke.
This is the situation where the AC technician becomes an irreplaceable expert.
The scope of work of an air conditioning technician includes repair and maintenance of the AC systems for residential or commercial clients.
AC technicians focus on cooling systems, but they can also choose to work on refrigeration systems or storage matters.
Since air conditioning and refrigeration systems are extremely common and widely used, AC tech experts are always sought-after all over the US.
The work of the AC technician can bring great revenue for the right person.
Read on to find out more details about the AC technician career, requirements, and benefits.
Responsibilities of AC Technicians
The work of an AC technician can be similar to the responsibilities of an HVAC technician.
However, their primary focus is climate control and air conditioning systems.
Duties of a skilled and experienced AC tech can include a variety of tasks, but all of them will be related to the cooling systems.
The scope of work comprises maintenance and repair of air conditioning, readjustment of temperature, pressure testing, installation of air conditioners.
AC technicians are usually hired by house management offices or other organizations.
However, some AC experts can work as independent contractors on their trucks.
In summer, the AC technicians can be tasked with more work than during the other seasons.
In hot summer months, they are sought after the most.
Commonly, AC specialists work normal hours.
In summer, however, they might expect to be called out in the field for emergency maintenance.
As the latest data shows, AC technicians become more in demand.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of 2017, the demand for AC technicians services will rise by 15% by 2026.
That means that about 48,800 new job offers will become available.
Compared to other professions, this growth in demand is higher.
The last estimation for other jobs was 7%.
The BLS provides data for all HVAC experts, not only AC technicians.
So this information doesn’t apply to only AC jobs but all HVAC positions.
With climate change, the hot weather has become more common in various environments all year round.
So the air conditioners are now a must-have appliance, not a luxury.
That leads to the AC technicians becoming more in demand.
In particular, experts in new AC systems equipped with complex computer controllers will become the most sought-after.
New AC technicians are always in demand because the experts that start working in this area build up their career in the field.
Experienced specialists can surely become supervisors or even business owners.
As for hiring, AC techs can be employed by the contractors while the construction process goes on.
There is also a possibility to be hired by homeowners for regular maintenance or unplanned repairing.
Companies dealing with climate-control also often hire AC technicians to maintain their stock and verify safety.
Aside from specialized companies, AC technicians’ services can be required by any organization that does business indoors.
This makes the job a lot more versatile.
Requirements for the Job
Usually, AC techs don’t need to have any specialized training when entering the field.
In this instance, the technicians will be expected to demonstrate an educational base for further development.
The minimal education required can be a high-school diploma or similar document, such as GED.
The data of the US Department of Labor show that 13% of AC techs don’t have an education higher than this.
Although, 71% of AC specialists have some college degree, and 16%, associate’s degree.
Similar to other junior positions, low experienced AC techs should demonstrate a mix of training and some experience.
Without any relevant background, the technician should have basic knowledge of AC systems.
Minimal construction expertise, electrical networks, etc.
AC specialists that have a bachelor’s degree or higher can move to the supervisory positions quicker than the experts with lower education.
Apprenticeship programs can also provide better preparation for the job.
So the technicians who take the program are better qualified for the management job.
AC technicians are expected to have some technical training.
They can take such courses at community or vocational colleges.
Additionally, they should have a mathematical base, people and communication skills.
AC Tech Wages
The average salary of the AC technician across the United States is $47,080 per year.
This number refers to all HVAC specialists.
The lowest salary of the AC tech can sum up to $30,000 while the highest, to $75,000 per year.
Based on the living expenses, the wages of AC technicians can differ from state to state.
AC Technicians make the most in Washington, D.C., with the average annual salary of $67,920.
The higher wages are also offered in Connecticut, Illinois, and Hawaii.
In such states as Arkansas, West Virginia or Mississippi, the average salary of an AC technician is $40,520.
New specialists will have a salary closer to the lowest rates, while experienced technicians can make more.
To start in a field, AC technicians can take the apprenticeship program.
The apprentice technicians start with a percentage of their supervisor’s salary.
After regular periods, they are usually given raises.
After the apprenticeship program, the AC techs can get a full-time position and benefits.
Holders of a bachelor’s, associate degree, or higher can require higher rates in the first place.
However, experience also plays a significant role.
According to Payscale 2018 report, beginner AC technicians with experience of 0-5 years can make $34,000 annually.
Specialists who have experience of 10 to 20 years in the field can earn $44,000 per year on average.
In the long run, experience and dedication become the main signs defining if a technician moves up the career ladder.
How to Become an AC Tech
Like in any other field, the steps a person will take to pursue the AC tech career will differ.
The educational base can influence the path as well as optional steps depending on available opportunities and individual preferences.
- High-school diploma or equivalent – 4 years:
To start an AC technician career, there are no strict educational requirements.
Most commonly, the majority of the specialists are expected to have a high-school diploma or similar certification.
If a person already chose the career of an AC technician while still in high school, they can take vocational courses to have an advantage after graduation.
- Option 1: Technician training program – 2 years:
One of the options for technicians can be receiving post-secondary education.
Some colleges offer a science or associate degree in air conditioning systems.
Such a course takes four semesters.
The disciplines usually include electrical math, service for AC equipment, refrigeration systems, etc.
These courses are a good basis for an entry-level AC tech job.
- Option 2: Apprenticeship program – 2-5 years:
AC technicians can apply for an apprenticeship program which will bring practical paid experience under the direction of qualified technicians.
Depending on a sponsor company, the program can last from two to five years.
The programs also differ from state to state.
However, the majority of urban areas have similar organizations offering an apprenticeship for newcomers.
- Section 608 Technician Certification:
In the US, Section 608 Technician certification is obligatory.
It approves the skills to handle and dispose of potentially hazardous refrigerants.
This certification is usually a part of a training or apprenticeship program.
If it’s not included in the program, the AC technicians should deal with completing the certification themselves.
- Get Local License:
Except for Section 608 certificate, no other national licenses are required.
However, some states or cities can require a local license.
Normally, to receive such a license, an AC technician will have to provide proof of training or experience and sometimes complete the exam.
An application fee can also be required.
- Advanced Certification:
If an AC tech wishes to advance in their career and improve their skills, they can obtain advanced certification.
Such organizations as HVAC Excellence provide options like this.
These certificates are not mandatory, but they can demonstrate special skills and help build up the career.
License and Certification
As previously mentioned, the license required for an AC technician can be different in individual states.
Some states don’t demand any license at all.
Others can require them for projects involving a higher power capacity or specific budgets.
It’s recommended that the AC technicians get acquainted with the local laws regarding their field.
In most cases, registration and application fee can be involved in obtaining a license.
Less commonly, some examination and minimum supervised practical experience can be required.