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Today, climate control systems are essential for maintaining comfort in houses, schools, hospitals, offices, etc.
Besides, they are widely used for food storage or proper servicing of electronic equipment.
HVAC mechanics deal with installation, maintenance, and repair of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
They are the professionals ensuring comfort and safety in the residential and industrial buildings
People who like manual work, can solve problems, and are apt in mechanics will find this career is suitable for them.
HVAC mechanics can have diverse training.
But mostly the professionals choose to obtain a post-secondary education.
There are multiple career options available for experienced mechanics.
They can work full-time at a specific facility, run their business and service multiple clients at their site.
They can work in the construction or renovation projects as well.
Below, you will find more comprehensive information on the career and everyday responsibilities of the HVAC mechanics.
An HVAC Mechanic Responsibilities
As mentioned, HVAC mechanics have various career opportunities.
They can work for contractors or major organizations assisting in new construction projects.
Qualified professionals can operate their own business.
Everyday responsibilities of HVAC mechanics can include the installation of new AC systems, repairing the vents, changing air filters, etc.
The scope of work is diverse and extended.
It will depend on the career trajectory they chose.
However, HVAC mechanics may face not very comfortable working conditions.
They have to work in high temperatures.
Sometimes, they may face a client who doesn’t understand the process.
So the HVAC mechanics should be patient and cool-headed to become great professionals.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are some fundamental tasks that HVAC mechanics face most commonly.
They include the installation and maintenance of HVAC systems, electrical components, and wiring.
Inspection of the HVAC systems, repairing or replacement of defective components are also common.
Besides, communicating the malfunction of the system with the client is also involved.
They should be able to recommend proper maintenance to enhance system performance.
So good communication skills are essential.
Besides, they have to keep up-to-date records of the completed work.
The everyday job of an HVAC mechanic can vary depending on the day and their experience.
However, entry-level mechanics should be prepared to perform any task they receive to get experience and on-the-job knowledge.
Now the prospects of the HVAC mechanic careers are positive.
According to the BLS, the demand for HVAC mechanics should grow by 15% until 2026.
It hints that almost 49,000 new job opportunities in the field will become available.
The reason for this increase is that climate control is a necessity in the modern world.
Virtually every building has AC or ventilation systems.
In hospitals or grocery stores, these systems are essential for the quality of life or business.
Previously, HVAC mechanics employment dropped.
But that was happening mostly in the new construction industry.
In the residential and commercial sector, the services of HVAC mechanics are still in demand.
This mostly includes repairing and maintenance work.
HVAC mechanics are sought-after in various industries.
A vast number of opportunities are available in the healthcare section, in hospitals or healthcare institutions.
Another industry hiring HVAC mechanics regularly is hospitality.
Resorts and hotels need to maintain their AC systems and keep them working properly, especially during the summer months.
This is not the largest sector in the industry, only 9%.
More and more HVAC mechanics open their businesses.
This is a great opportunity for them to pick the work they like and set their schedule.
Job Requirements of HVAC Mechanics
New HVAC mechanics entering the field have some formal education.
The entry-level HVAC mechanics usually have a mix of training and experience.
Typically, HVAC mechanics earn an associate of applied science degree.
Another option can be obtaining a professional certificate at community college.
Another technical training is also applicable.
According to the data of the US Department of Labor, 55% of HVAC mechanics hold a post-secondary certification.
16% have an associate’s degree while only 13% have as much as a high school diploma or equivalent.
Less frequently, HVAC mechanics obtain a bachelor’s degree.
It can be in mechanical engineering or construction management.
However, those who earned this type of degree are most likely to enter the HVAC engineering field.
Minimum required training includes a high school diploma or similar certification, such as GED.
Upper-level math experience is required though.
Those who seek deeper training can apply for apprenticeship programs.
They are usually available through some unions dealing with pipefitters, plumbers, etc.
The program includes on-the-job training with a qualified HVAC mechanic.
It can last for 3-5 years.
Upon the completion of the program, the HVAC mechanic will have over 2,000 hours of experience.
New mechanics can be invited to the union and work with their initial wages.
This option can be quite competitive.
Waged of an HVAC Mechanic
Even though the training for this profession doesn’t have to be longer than two years, salaries can be quite satisfactory.
Based on the BLS data, the average wages of HVAC mechanics in the US is $49,530, with $23.81 hourly.
The salary of the HVAC mechanic can be affected by a range of factors.
Experience and geographic location are among them.
The new mechanics can expect wages below the national average until they gain the necessary knowledge and experience.
Those who have a comprehensive education (e.g., a bachelor’s degree in HVAC) can be eligible for higher salaries at the start.
Another factor that can influence the salary of HVAC mechanic is the cost of living.
It is drastically different from state to state.
The states with extreme temperatures and high cost of living offer the highest salaries.
For example, Washington, D.C., or Alaska with an average salary of $64,000.
States such as West Virginia have a lower cost of living and offer salaries below the national median wages.
They can sum up to $40,520 annually.
The salaries of HVAC mechanics can also vary in different regions.
For example, in Atlanta HVAC mechanic can expect to make $44,370, while in Albany, $37,450.
How to Start a Career of HVAC Mechanic
The career path of HVAC mechanic can be different.
But most commonly the following one is involved:
- High school diploma or equivalent – 4 years.
The educational requirements for the HVAC mechanic profession aren’t strict.
However, while most mechanics obtain post-secondary training, the many of them only have a high school diploma or similar.
Students that chose the profession of HVAC mechanic should be knowledgeable in math.
Enrolling in the vocational HVAC programs can be a huge advantage.
- Degree or certification – 6 months to 2 years (option 1).
Majority of aspiring HVAC mechanics choose a post-secondary education.
Upon completion, they can get either an associate’s degree or a certificate.
The programs usually cover math, fundamentals of HVAC systems, electronics, etc.
- Apprenticeship program – 2 to 5 years (option 2).
HVAC mechanics who already have some practical experience or want to join a union can take an apprenticeship program.
Apprenticeship in HVAC is quite competitive though.
Apprentices earn a percentage of their supervisor (or qualified technician) salary.
After the program, they will have the appropriate number of practical training hours and theoretical courses.
- Required certification.
Everybody who enters the HVAC field is required to earn the EPA section 608 certification.
This certificate proves that the mechanics are eligible to handle the refrigerant and maintain safety.
Usually, it is a part of a training program.
If it isn’t, mechanics must take care of it themselves.
- Get a local license.
Some states or regions may require a local license for the HVAC mechanic to be able to practice.
- Further certification.
Advanced certification can bring more opportunities for HVAC mechanics.
The organizations such as North American Technician Excellence (NATE) or HVAC Excellence deal with such certificates.
Certificates and License
As mentioned, the HVAC mechanic licensure can be different in every state.
Some states don’t even require any license at all.
Depending on the state where HVAC mechanic is going to work, they should check the legal regulations in this matter.
The failure to comply with the regulations can result in large fines and negatively affect the career.
Since HVAC mechanics deal with potentially dangerous refrigerants, they should be certified in handling them.
It involves the examination on the correct handling, disposal, and recycling of the chemicals.
Often, this examination is a part of a training program.
More experienced HVAC mechanics are eligible for advanced certification.
There are various exams that can help prove the specialized knowledge, expertise, or techniques.
For example, the Energy Star program proves the skills and knowledge to deal with eco-friendly systems.
Any certifications and licenses that HVAC mechanic can obtain can enhance the job opportunities significantly.
So, if a mechanic wants to move up the career ladder, they should consider these options.