5 Most Important Skills Needed to Be an HVAC Technician

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  • HVAC technicians install and repair heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
  • Along with technical skills, HVAC technicians must also possess certain soft skills.
  • An HVAC technician's duties may vary depending on their employer and specialization.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HVAC technicians earned a median annual salary of $50,590 as of May 2020. For those who enjoy problem-solving and helping others, entering this field can be a relatively lucrative career choice. Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects 4% job growth for these professionals, which is on par with the national average across fields.

HVAC technicians install, maintain, and repair refrigeration, cooling, heating, and ventilation systems. Some HVAC technicians focus on a particular specialty, such as solar energy or air quality. Others may specialize in installation, maintenance, or repair.

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HVAC technicians may work in people's homes or manage systems for large businesses. Additionally, technicians can work for small, locally owned businesses and large corporations. Some HVAC technicians also educate future professionals in this field.

Working conditions for HVAC technicians can vary. Because HVAC equipment can be located indoors or outdoors, you may have to work in small spaces inside, such as attics and crawl spaces, or in harsh weather conditions outside.

HVAC technicians may also experience varied schedules. Although many HVAC technicians work full time, several companies offer after-hours emergency services that may require their employees to work late.

Lester Mclaughlin, Vice President of Operations at Blue National HVAC, acknowledged that HVAC techs sometimes have to work unconventional hours.

"Unfortunately, a big part of the job is being on call. If somebody's furnace breaks at 3 a.m. during a winter snowstorm, it's a matter of life and death, especially if it's an elderly person."

Read on to learn about the skills needed to be an HVAC technician, and find answers to common questions about HVAC careers.

What Skills Are Needed to Be an HVAC Technician?

Becoming an HVAC technician requires an understanding of various systems of technology and machinery. These careers also require several soft skills.

"HVAC technicians need good people skills and high emotional intelligence in order to succeed at their job."

– Lester Mclaughlin

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  • Problem-Solving Abilities

    An HVAC technician must be able to identify a problem and fix it. Whether dealing with an air conditioner that is not blowing cold air or a heater that makes a strange noise, an HVAC technician must identify what is broken and get it working again.
  • Communication Skills

    Working with customers is a huge component of being an HVAC technician. As the expert, you must be able to clearly explain what needs to be done and why. You may need to provide step-by-step instructions or answer customers' questions while remaining professional and courteous.

    Lester Mclaughlin echoed this sentiment.

    "Contrary to popular belief, you do need people skills," he said. "Some customers have poor communication skills, have unreasonable expectations about your schedule, want you to work faster, and sometimes even think that your job is simple and wonder why you don't just fix it already." HVAC technicians need good people skills and high emotional intelligence in order to succeed at their job.

  • Time Management Skills

    Whether you own your own HVAC business or work for a company, you must maintain a schedule that allows you to assist multiple customers a day. HVAC technicians must be able to go from one project to the next in a timely, efficient manner.
  • Comfort Working With Heavy Objects and Machinery

    Being an HVAC technician can be physically demanding. HVAC equipment can be heavy or bulky. These professionals are often expected to lift large parts and objects to complete jobs. HVAC technicians should also be properly trained to safely lift heavy equipment.
  • Familiarity With Computers

    Many portions of HVAC technology are becoming digitized. HVAC technicians need to be comfortable navigating computerized components of the equipment they are installing, maintaining, or repairing. Likewise, many employers use software systems to keep track of clients and employees.

Frequently Asked Questions About Being an HVAC Technician

How dangerous is HVAC work?

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HVAC work involves some serious safety concerns. HVAC workers can be exposed to electrical hazards, dangerous chemicals, and toxins in the air. HVAC workers must follow procedures and wear proper personal protective equipment in case of accidents.

Do HVAC technicians have to meet continuing education requirements?

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Because technology is continually improving and changing, HVAC technicians may need to meet continuing education requirements. Specific requirements for maintaining licensure vary by state, and not all states require HVAC technicians to hold a license.

Should HVAC technicians be comfortable working in tight spaces?

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Since HVAC equipment is often located in attics and basements, technicians should be comfortable working in confined spaces. Some projects may require you to work in crawl spaces. If a repair is lengthy, you may need to spend a long time in a small space.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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