We at I Build America – Ohio value all our skilled tradesmen and women, but this time of year, we’re especially grateful for this week’s featured position: HVAC specialist.
HVAC stands for: heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. HVAC specialists keep us comfortable year-round by installing, maintaining, and repairing temperature-regulating equipment in homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses. Today, people expect a certain level of comfort at all times, which is why the job outlook for this profession is very favorable. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 15% growth through 2026 and well beyond.
While we can thank HVAC specialists for their expertise on hot summer days, not all HVAC specialists work with air conditioning systems. Some technicians focus solely on heating or refrigeration, while some master all three. But what does it take to become an HVAC Specialist?
First, obtain a high school diploma with good grades in subjects like Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics. Then, you can choose between one of two paths:
If school is your thing, attend a vocational or technical school. In this formal classroom setting, you’ll learn the ins and outs of all things HVAC. This course can take anywhere from several months to a few years, depending on the curriculum and if you opt for full- or part-time coursework.
If you’re more hands-on in your learning style, opt for an apprenticeship. This is a great way to earn as you learn with actual – and often unexpected – scenarios. Plus, your work experience will give you an exclusive networking opportunity with a local crew.
No matter which route you take, you will need to obtain one of four HVAC Certifications:
- Type I Certification: Technicians service small appliances like vending machines, air conditioners, and domestic refrigerators.
- Type II Certification: Technicians service and dispose of equipment with high-pressure refrigerants like large air conditioners, heat pumps, and supermarket/industrial refrigeration.
- Type III Certification: Technicians handle low-pressure refrigerants.
- Universal Certification: Technicians deal with and service all systems, units, and refrigerants.
In addition to specialized training, HVAC Specialists should develop certain soft skills to support their trade:
- HVAC Specialists must be skilled in problem solving.
- Every job is different, which means specialists must be able to think on their feet to troubleshoot and repair HVAC equipment. This requires brain power and physical strength, as specialists work with complicated and heavy items. In addition to on-the-job work, specialists must be able to manage a busy schedule to help as many people as they can in the most efficient way possible.
- HVAC Specialists must be comfortable working directly with customers.
- Whether in the customer’s home or on a call, this role requires excellent communication skills. Specialists must be patient listeners and articulate speakers with customers and coworkers alike.
- HVAC Specialists must be innovative and continuously work to improve.
- As they work with customers, specialists learn their needs and potential market opportunities. With that information, specialists must collaborate with sales and engineering teams to develop superior, cutting-edge products.
These combined trainings and soft skills can help you earn a great living as an HVAC Specialist. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, HVAC Specialists earned more than $20 per hour with a median annual salary of nearly $50,000.