Becoming an HVAC Tech: The What, Why, and How
The HVAC industry is growing quickly, and technicians who know the ins and outs of these systems are in high demand. In Arizona, the average hourly rate for an HVAC tech is $25.21/hour and $5,875 per year in overtime.
This field is expected to continue to grow as technology to heat and cool improves. For someone looking to jump into a new career or make a career change, getting the skills you need to be an HVAC tech could be a great move.
What is an HVAC technician?
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration are all components of every home and workplace. When they are working properly, most people do not give them much thought. However, they can significantly decrease someone’s home or working environment if they break down or do not work efficiently.
The professionals who work on these systems are commonly known as HVAC technicians. They will work in a variety of settings—from homes to large factories to schools. They not only do repairs and address maintenance, but they are also vital experts to have when someone builds a new property.
As an HVAC tech, you can specialize in one or more types of indoor climate control systems. For example, you might want to work exclusively with air conditioners and furnaces, or you could focus on solar panels or commercial refrigeration. While each focus area has the same general goal, the information you need to install or work on those units is very different.
Why would you want to be an HVAC tech?
An HVAC technician’s job can be very complicated, but it can be rewarding as well. There are a few reasons that you might want to consider this type of career field.
1. It has a great job outlook.
Air conditioners, refrigerators, heating systems, and other HVAC-focused equipment are certainly not going away any time soon. It is very likely that Americans will always need someone who has the skill and knowledge to work on these systems. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that HVAC tech employment growth is expected to be 15% through at least 2026.
2. It has good compensation.
While the average compensation for HVAC techs in Arizona is just above $25/hour, some positions pay significantly higher as well. Those in the highest 10% of earners will see wages more along the lines of roughly $60,000 to $75,000 per year. Those numbers change depending on where you end up in the United States as well. Those who specialize in certain areas will often see a pay increase too.
3. You can work and live almost anywhere.
The skills that you learn as an HVAC technician will help you get a job in your field just about anywhere in the United States. If you specialize in a certain type of system, you may be a bit more limited, but not much.
4. You get to make a difference in people’s lives and businesses.
Both residents and businesses place a lot of emphasis on having a comfortable working and living environment. By providing services, you help people live healthier, more comfortable lives. You can also help the environment in learning energy-efficient systems and methods as well.
5. Training does not require a four-year college degree.
You do not need a bachelor’s degree to become a certified HVAC tech. You can complete the training you need in as little as four to ten weeks for an entry-level position. This type of training is not only far less time-consuming—it is also much more cost-effective.
6. It offers an opportunity to problem-solve and work with your hands.
Many people enjoy the work involved with being an HVAC tech. It requires some creativity and technical know-how. You solve problems by troubleshooting systems, which can be very rewarding for many workers.
How can I become an HVAC technician?
You can either attempt to jump into an apprenticeship as an HVAC tech, or you can go to a trade school like Vocational Training Institute. While apprenticeships can be very effective learning tools, they can be difficult to set up. Instead, many people choose to get training first and then transition into an apprenticeship.
Whatever path you choose, be sure that your learning experience has hands-on training that you can take advantage of. At VTI, for example, students go through practical learning workshops as they learn concepts in the classroom. Applying what you read and getting your hands dirty is one of the best ways to learn.
In Arizona, you must be certified to work on your own as an HVAC technician. To get your EPA Certification, you must pass a written exam.
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