What Does an HVAC Technician Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

A day in the life of an HVAC technician: Install and maintain heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, Complete an apprenticeship and get accredited, Strength and dexterity are needed, Listening is the key to solving your customers’ problems

The Balance / Ellen Lindner

An HVAC technician installs, maintains, and repairs heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. HVAC is an abbreviation for "heating, ventilation, and air conditioning." An alternative but less common abbreviation is HVACR.

Someone who works in this occupation might specialize in installation, or in maintenance and repair. Some technicians concentrate on only one type of system, either heating, air conditioning, or refrigeration, while others offer a broader range of services.

HVAC Technician Duties & Responsibilities

These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for HVAC technician jobs found on Indeed.com:

  • Oversee installations.
  • Troubleshoot and repair HVAC/R equipment.
  • Apply local HVAC codes in a practical manner on each job.
  • Provide excellent customer service.
  • Provide technical support in the field.
  • Collaborate with sales and engineering to develop product definitions responsive to customer needs and market opportunities.
  • Layout, design, and install low-voltage wiring.
  • Run after-hours calls as required.

HVAC Technician Salary

This career offers respectable pay that covers a pretty extensive range based on skills and location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $47,610 ($22.89/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $76,230 ($36.65/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $29,460 ($14.16/hour)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

Education, Training, & Certification

You'll need formal training to work as an HVAC technician.

  • Education: Most employers prefer to hire workers who have received post-secondary instruction at a trade or technical school. The U.S. Armed Forces also offer HVAC training.
  • Apprenticeships: Employers will also hire candidates who have completed a three- to five-year paid apprenticeship. Apprentices acquire their skills both in the classroom and on the job. 
  • Licensing: Some states and localities require that HVAC technicians be licensed. This usually means passing a written test.

HVAC Technician Skills & Competencies

In addition to the technical skills you'll obtain through formal training, certain soft skills and personal qualities can contribute to your success in this occupation.

  • Listening: It's important that you fully understand what customers are telling you about their problems so you can solve them.
  • Speaking: You'll have to be able to articulately and clearly share information with your coworkers and customers.
  • Time management: Meeting the demands of a busy schedule means managing your time well.
  • Critical thinking: This will allow you to weigh various solutions to a problem and choose the best one.
  • Physical strength and dexterity: You should be able to easily lift up to 50 pounds and be able to carry and maneuver heavier items, either with help or appropriate devices.

HVAC technicians should also have clean driving records and a valid driver's license because this job often entails traveling from location to location. You should be able to pass a drug screen and background check.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for this profession is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment will grow much faster than the average for all occupations through at least 2026, by about 15%. It has been designated as a "Bright Outlook" occupation for this reason.

That said, technicians who specialize in new installations can be somewhat dependent upon the rate of new construction activity in their areas.

Work Environment

Most HVAC technicians work for construction contractors, but approximately one out of 10 are self-employed. Work environments can include schools, hospitals, business sites, offices, homes, and sometimes multiple locations in the same day. You might be assigned to an ongoing job site, or make service calls to various locations daily.

Most work takes place indoors, but this job can also involve outdoor tasks, sometimes in inclement weather.

Work Schedule

Jobs are typically full-time, and over time can be required during busy times of the year, such as in the dead of winter or at the peak of summer. Working evenings, weekends, and holidays can be required in emergency situations, particularly if you're self-employed and a customer needs immediate help.

How to Get the Job


My Next Move: Careers With Registered Apprenticeships offers information and openings for HVAC apprenticeships.


Use the Licensed Occupations Tool from CareerOneStop to find out what the licensing requirements are in the state in which you plan to work.

Comparing Similar Jobs

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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017