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HVAC Mechanic Career Profile

HVAC Mechanic Career Profile - Cleveland

Job Outlook and Salary for HVAC Mechanics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 21 percent between 2012 and 2022. Job opportunities are expected to be excellent, particularly for those who have completed training at an accredited technical school or through an apprenticeship. The median wage for this profession in 2012 was $43,640 and the top ten percent earned more than $68,990.

Career Path For HVAC Mechanics from Entry Level to Senior Level

When people first enter the field of HVAC mechanics, this is the typical career path they will follow.

Begin as an HVAC helper

These individuals help HVAC installers and service technicians and generally assist those with more experience.

Become an HVAC installer
These individuals are trained in the installation and maintenance of HVAC units. This involves understanding electronic and mechanical components as well as sheet metal construction, fuel and water lines, refrigerants, and more.

Become an HVAC start-up technician
Start-up technicians are not only qualified to install the units but also to do basic troubleshooting, quality control, and equipment warranty.

Then become an HVAC service technician
HVAC service technicians will be able to do everything a start-up technician does in addition to acquiring, evaluating, and interpreting readings as well as performing field diagnostics.

Finally, become an advanced service technician
Advanced service technicians must understand load calculations, equipment selections, and maintenance. These professionals typically earn the highest pay in the field.

Education and Training for HVAC Mechanics

There are a few different ways to become an HVAC mechanic. While some students might begin learning on the job by studying under a more experienced mechanic, this method is becoming less common. Many interested HVAC mechanics begin by taking a training program offered by a number of technical schools or community colleges. These programs tend to offer either certificates or associate's degrees and take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to finish.

The other common option would be apprenticeships. These programs tend to last anywhere from 3 to 5 years and tend to combine classroom learning with on the job learning. Apprenticeship programs are offered through joint committees of a number of different organizations, such as Air Conditioning Contractors of America. Others are run through businesses and unions. Once mechanics have completed their training, there are a number of different certifications available for them to take that will measure their skills and experience. They are offered through a number of different organizations, including the:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society
  • North American Technician Excellence
  • National Occupational Competency Testing Institute

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does require that all mechanics who handle refrigerant be certified. These various certificates will show employers the competencies and training that the mechanic has, which will help in obtaining employment.

Resources for HVAC Mechanics

There are a number of resources available to HVAC mechanics to learn more about the field, potential certifications, classes, and more. Those interested in taking HVAC classes towards particular certifications can explore:

  • ASHRAE.org
  • North American Technician Excellence
  • HVAC Excellence
  • National Occupational Competency Testing Institute
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society.

Students interested in finding more information about apprenticeships can examine the sites such as:

  • United Association of Apprentice and Journeymen of the United States and Canada
  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America
  • National Association of Home Builders, Home Builders Institute.