The Different Careers in HVAC
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the job outlook for careers in the heating, cooling, and ventilation industry is positive. Those in Hudson, FL, who are interested in pursuing this career path are looking at one that is expected to grow at a rate of 13% through 2028. This is faster than many other potential career paths. The most common career in HVAC is technician, but there are others in project management, administration, and quality assurance. At Mario's AC, we take pride in assembling the best team of technicians and support staff who are knowledgeable in HVAC. If you are considering a career in this industry, here is some information about the various HVAC career paths.
One of the nice things about pursuing a career in the HVAC industry is that it has a low barrier of entry. There is ongoing education and on-the-job training, but you don’t have to attend a higher education institution in order to be considered for a job. You will be required to prove that you completed your high school education. Thereafter, you can attend and complete a vocational training program so that you can begin acquiring the basics of the industry. The bulk of the training, though, comes from working in the field and under the mentorship of a senior technician. No prior experience is required, but it is helpful. If you have a knack for the industry, it helps you get off on the right foot.
You can truly test your knowledge of the field when you study and prepare to take the NATE certification exam.
When you pass the North American Technician Excellence certification core exam, you’ve proven your aptitude in the HVAC field. The organization estimates that the majority of individuals who become certified go on to have long HVAC careers. The first step is to pass the core exam. Once it is successfully passed, you never have to take the core exam again so long as you keep your membership current. HVAC is a field that is entrenched in technology, so the exam has evolved to include elements of the latest advancements in the industry. This keeps technicians abreast of important industry updates, too.
Professionals who become NATE-certified are in demand because they have proven their competency. It is one certification that allows you to ask for a bump in your salary. You are also more marketable because clients want to know that the most knowledgeable technicians will work on their expensive HVAC systems. Some of the elements that are tested in the core exam include:
- General knowledge
- Construction knowledge
- HVAC-R specific knowledge in safety, tools, and basic construction
- Basic science
- Problem solving
- Temperature and humidity measurements
- Basic electrical work
When the core exam is passed, a professional can then take one of the two specialty exams, which are installation and service. Someone who is confident in their skills and knowledge of the industry who has passed the core exam and the specialty exams can then test to qualify for Senior Level Technician NATE certification.
Most professionals in the HVAC industry become or start off as a technician. This is an industry that rewards those who have entrepreneurial genes. It is not uncommon for HVAC companies to get their start as a one-man operation and then grow into full-fledged operations. There are many companies that are family-owned and -operated, too.
As a technician, you will be tasked with installing equipment, servicing equipment, or both. It depends on where your talents are and how much studying you decide to complete for your career. A professional who decides to specialize in installation services will be trained to and have the opportunity to complete the following tasks:
- Air conditioning installation
- Air distribution installation
- Air to air heat pump installation
- Gas heating (air) installation
Those who opt for the service track will have the opportunity to train in and complete the following tasks:
- Air conditioning service
- Air distribution service
- Heat pump (air to air) service
- Gas heating (air) service
- Oil heating (air) service
- Hydronics gas service
- Hydronics oil service
- Light commercial refrigeration service
- Commercial refrigeration service
An entry-level exam is offered by NATE. This is not a certification, but it is an exam that allows an individual to demonstrate to a potential employer that they are competent in this field.
HVAC work can take place at hospitals, schools, and office buildings as well as factories and other commercials settings. A professional can also opt to work in residential HVAC. The hours can vary because some companies offer emergency services. This means that a call for service can arrive in the middle of the night and on the weekend. Keep in mind that the salary is in-line with the specialization of the work.
The HVAC industry is similar to construction in that those who achieve senior status can then move into project management. At this level, you are tasked with managing the overview of all projects from scheduling to billing. After years of on-the-field experience, you gain insight and problem-solving skills that allow you to manage a team of technicians.
Customer service is another career track in the HVAC industry. You might decide that you prefer to field questions from customers who are not sure about what service they require or want to understand why they are going to be charged certain fees.
Administration is yet another aspect of the HVAC industry that takes place in an office setting. Positions like this one are valuable to the industry because someone has to handle the paperwork. It helps when this position is filled by a professional who understands the ins and outs of HVAC. Many administrators started out as technicians.
Once you get your start in the HVAC industry, you get to decide the rest of your fate. Your career is going to go in the direction you pick based on how much effort you put into continuing your education. There are HVAC companies that specialize in heating and cooling repairs, installation, and replacements. There are others that also assess indoor air quality, commercial services, and maintenance.
Some service providers partner with specific HVAC equipment brands. This allows them to sell heating, cooling, and ventilation systems to their customers directly. Thereafter, they can install them, maintain them, and repair them as necessary. If you work for a company that partners with specific brands, you are going to be asked to familiarize yourself with those brands and products.
The more skills and knowledge you can pick up as an HVAC technician, the more valuable you are going to make yourself to your employer. Once you have gained enough experience, you can always branch out and start your own operation, too. You can also remain under the umbrella of an employer.
At Mario's AC in Hudson, we employ NATE-certified technicians who represent our company in the best light. You can see their work firsthand when you schedule an appointment with us. We offer new construction, duct cleaning, and indoor air quality services in addition to HVAC maintenance. Contact us today when you need HVAC services and want the assurance that you’ll be getting quality work from trained professionals.