Skilled Trades

HVAC Technician: Job Description, Requirements, and Outlook

Skilled TradesJanuary 09, 2024

Climate change, seasonal fluctuations, and other factors can have an effect on living and working environments, including increases in high temperatures. According to 2023 Energy Information Administration data from Climate Central, residential buildings will see a projected 71% increase in cooling demand by 2050, with commercial building demand increasing by 30% over the same period. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems will likely continue to become more necessary going forward.

Ensuring there are trained technicians who can install and maintain cooling and other air-controlling systems will be key to keeping indoor spaces comfortable and safe. Individuals who are interested in launching a career in the HVAC field should understand the HVAC technician job description, the skills to perform this role, and how a skilled trades training program can help with career preparation.

HVAC Technician Job Description 

HVAC is a collection of systems that help circulate air and control temperatures in both commercial and residential buildings. It can also include refrigeration. These systems are installed, maintained, and repaired by HVAC technicians. Maintenance can consist of ridding air ducts of dirt and dust, which can clog airflow; changing out filters; and testing systems to ensure they function properly under different settings, such as cooling at the maximum value.

HVAC technicians can work as company employees or independently with clients. HVAC technicians can also be called HVAC mechanics and HVAC installers.  They can create contracts to regularly perform inspections and maintenance, upgrading the systems when necessary. Part of the HVAC technician role is ensuring HVAC equipment and systems comply with regulatory standards.

HVAC Technician Work Environment

As HVAC and refrigeration systems are used in a variety of buildings for different purposes, technicians regularly travel as part of their jobs. Safety is critical for HVAC techs, as their work environments can include slippery rooftops, dark crawl spaces, and outdoor settings experiencing bad weather or extreme temperatures. 

In some instances, companies with multiple facilities, or owners of large building spaces such as factories and office complexes, may hire an HVAC technician to work in-house. This can provide the technician with an office space to conduct administrative aspects of the job. 

Some examples of locations in which HVAC technicians may work include:

  • Factories
  • Retail stores
  • Office buildings
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Residential homes and apartments

HVAC Technician Education and Fundamental Skills 

Most employers will look for HVAC technician job applicants who have completed a postsecondary education, typically from a training program or trade school. These programs offer fundamental training in HVAC and refrigeration systems, teaching students how to perform diagnostic tests and maintenance. These programs can also give students the opportunity to prepare for problems they may experience in the field with hands-on training, helping them anticipate issues and improve efficiency.

In addition to an education, some employers or states may require licensing to practice as an HVAC tech. To ensure compliance with state regulations, HVAC techs should research state requirements before beginning a job search. Those who work with refrigeration units will need to gain the Section 608 Technician Certification, which covers three types of refrigeration systems and is offered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Key skills that HVAC technicians should develop to maximize job success include the following.

1. Mechanical Knowledge

A key part of the HVAC technician job description involves installing and maintaining HVAC and refrigeration systems, which requires extensive mechanical knowledge of the technologies that run these systems. Some systems may use a combination of digital and analog controls, with various locations using different interfaces for the same type of system depending on its age, size, or price. HVAC techs must know how to program each type of interface. 

2. Customer Service

HVAC techs regularly interact with their clients, both to explain how to use HVAC systems and to best understand clients’ needs. Engaging with clients can help ensure customer satisfaction, which is key for continuing the relationship if the client needs ongoing repairs or maintenance. It could also potentially lead to new clients through word-of-mouth referrals.

3. Detail Oriented

HVAC technicians must maintain records of their equipment use, hours worked, and the work that was performed. Employers may use this information to verify payments and track when equipment needs replacement or restocking.

Job Outlook for HVAC Technicians 

The job outlook for HVAC techs is positive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects positions for HVAC mechanics and installers will grow by 6% between 2022 and 2032, faster than the 3% average growth for the U.S. job market as a whole. 

The BLS bases this projection on the continued construction of commercial and residential buildings in need of climate control. With the increased importance put on energy efficiency and emission control, HVAC techs may also see increased job growth as older systems are replaced or repaired to meet new standards.

Start Your Career as an HVAC Technician 

By building skills and knowledge to help meet the demands of the HVAC technician job description, you can begin a career that is in demand and helps keep people safe and comfortable. 

When seeking out a foundational education, consider the benefits of the Fortis skilled trades training programs, including the HVAC diploma program. This program is focused on the fundamentals of HVAC systems, provides hands-on training, and can be completed in as little as 54 weeks.

Discover where your career will take you — with Fortis.

Recommended Readings
Important Soft Skills in HVAC and Refrigeration
Keeping You Cool: A Day in the Life of an AC Technician
Trends in HVAC: The Need for Training to Service New HVAC Technology

Climate Central, “Hotter Climate, Higher Cooling Demand”
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Section 608 Technician Certification
Indeed, How To Become an HVAC Technician
TechTarget, “What is HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning)?”
USA News, “What Is HVAC and How Does it Work?”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers
U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2023