HVAC Service Tech 101
By: Reggie Hucks | Aug 29, 2019
The Refrigeration, Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning industries (HVACR) are still growing even though they have been in existence for about 150 years. Hundreds of refrigeration uses including fresh food preservation, air-conditioning, and cryogenics should propel the industry well into the next millennium. That kind of growth sounds like a man power issue doesn’t it? So, lets discuss what it takes to be a HVACR technician.
You must have an interest in machines and working with your hands. You should like to fix broken items and enjoy working alone and unsupervised. You must possess considerable brain power to troubleshoot complex machinery. So how does one get started in the trade in the first place? Here are some tips to help you break into the HVACR service trade.
First you should get your high school diploma. Basic high school classes such as writing, computer training, general math, and communication skills are essential in becoming a good service tech. Although a GED will meet the prerequisite for employment, a diploma is always more attractive to an employer.
Next, consider attending a good trade school. If the trade school offers an associate degree in HVACR, put in the time and get the degree. It will be beneficial in the form of more compensation and promotion down the road. Trade schools can be attended at night in some cases, so working full time while attending is always an option.
If a trade school is not practical, consider an apprenticeship with a reputable company. Training through the North American Technician Excellence program (NATE) could be part of the apprenticeship. NATE training, as well as that offered by equipment manufacturers, is very effective in sharping the skills of new and seasoned service technicians.
Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) certification is also a requirement to do service work. The EPA certification is not likely to go away anytime soon, and the certification is necessary to handle refrigerants. Attend the training and take the EPA test as soon as possible.
Once you have some years of service training and experience under your belt, consider obtaining a journeyman or state contractor’s license. These licenses usually require a certain amount of education and experience before you can take the prerequisite exams. Securing the license can help with career promotion or give you the opportunity of owning a private HVACR business.
Current salaries for HVACR technicians are always better with experience, but some go as high as 75,000+ per year. Commissions, profit sharing, and other benefits can further increase the total pay you could receive.
The field is waiting for new job applicants. There are many jobs available too. You can work at an HVAC supply store as a service consultant; a refrigeration company as a service technician; an HVAC company as a service technician or a salesman; or you could work for a manufacturer as a service technician or consultant. Really, all you have to do is roll up your sleeves and go for it. As a technician, you will most likely drive a service vehicle. You must have a driver’s license and a clean driving record. Employers do not like to hire insurance risks.