Skilled Trades

Keeping You Cool: A Day in the Life of an AC Technician

Skilled TradesJuly 26, 2022

Air conditioning is one of those things you don’t even think about until it stops working—but it plays an important role in keeping buildings comfortable. And on a hot summer day, air conditioning is much more than just a convenience. It can be a lifesaver. We checked in with HVAC technician Craig Petway about what he likes about HVAC and what his day looks like. 

HVAC Technicians Solve Puzzles

A 2021 Fortis graduate, Petway handles a variety of different issues on any given day. He likes the intellectual puzzle of figuring out what needs repairing or replacing. Originally working in plumbing, Petway made the leap to HVAC about five years ago. “I’m a puzzle person, so I found HVAC a bit more intriguing,” he says. 

If an air-conditioning unit has gone out, he explains, it could be a refrigerant problem, a capacitor issue, a fan motor, or something else. “You have to know how to diagnose the issue, so you know exactly what is going on and what you need to do to fix it,” he says. Each day brings variety. 

You May Work with Customers

Besides working with the HVAC systems, another part of the job can involve customer service if you work in maintenance and repair and interact with homeowners. That takes communication skills. That’s not a problem for Petway—he’s a self-described “people person.” For someone coming into the field, he says it’s useful to have some customer service experience to talk with homeowners. “It’s important to be able to communicate with a person whether they’re angry, sad, or happy,” Petway says. 

Don’t let a lack of customer service stop you from considering the profession, however. You can develop the skills as you go. The key is knowing how to be respectful, Petway says. 

What to Know About Working Conditions in the Field

Petway recommends being prepared for different types of weather. When you repair an AC unit, you could be working in a hot attic. Repairing a heating system might require bundling up against the cold. 

Also, HVAC involves some physical labor, particularly when you’re new on the job. “It seems like grit work, but this is the work that teaches you about the job,” Petway says. It’s part of the process of developing your HVAC expertise.

Whether you’re a young person looking for your first career or someone looking for a job with more challenge, HVAC can be a good choice. This is a growth career for women who want a career in the skilled trades. Fortis offers HVAC & Refrigeration programs in 13 states. Visit our website for more information and to find a training program near you. Or call 1-855-436-7847 to speak with a representative today.