HVAC, which stands for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, is a field which regulates the humidity and temperature of a variety of structures, including homes, office buildings, retail establishments, hospitals, and factories. HVAC technicians, also known as HVAC mechanics and installers, are responsible for installing and/or maintaining the wide array of mechanical, electrical and electronic components that comprise an HVAC system.

Using special tools and equipment, the mechanic needs to be able to maintain, diagnose and correct problems that may occur throughout the entire system.

HVAC Mechanics And Installers picture    HVAC Mechanics And Installers image

HVAC Schools

Although there continue to be mechanics who learn their trade informally on the job, most employers prefer to hire those who have completed formal training and/or an apprenticeship. Many junior/community colleges and technical/trade schools offer 6-month to 2-year programs in heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration.

Three agencies have set academic standards for accrediting HVAC schools:

  • The National Center for Construction Education and Research
  • HVAC Excellence
  • The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation.

Completion of these programs along with several additional months of field experience is usually needed to establish proficiency in the trade.

The following are five schools that offer HVAC training programs:

  • Ashworth College: This online program in HVAC training prepares students to take the EPA certification exam. It includes both a study guide and a $75 voucher towards the cost of the exam.
  • Altierus Career College (formerly Everest College): This program provides education to students to become professional HVAC technicians in about a year. With locations across the country, Altierus offers modern tools and instructors with professional experience in the field.
  • Lincoln Tech: Several of Lincoln Tech's campuses across the country offer the HVAC training program. The program covers green alternatives to heating and cooling systems, preparing students for environmental changes in the field.
  • Penn Foster Career School: This school offers a career diploma in HVAC and refrigeration. This online program can be completed in as little as five months, and prepares students for a career as an HVAC technician.
  • Remington College: This college's campuses in Cleveland, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Fort Worth, Texas; and Memphis, Tennessee currently offer a diploma program in HVAC technician training.

HVAC Technician Education Requirements

Though the HVAC technician education requirements vary from state to state, most mechanics specialize in either installation or maintenance and repair. Many of them specialize in a singular element of HVAC (e.g., heating work or air-conditioning) or in one type of equipment (e.g., solar panels, commercial refrigeration, or water-based heating systems). Despite their specializations, mechanics are trained to install and service both residential and commercial systems. In these programs, students learn about proper installation and repair of many different mechanical systems, including:

  • Furnaces
  • Metal and fiberglass ducting
  • Compressors
  • Motors
  • Switches
  • Fans
  • Piping
  • Electrical systems and electrical components

    HVAC technician programs also teach students how to use of a wide variety of hand tools, such as tin snips, wrenches, torches, and pipe cutters, as well as various testing devices (hydrometers, voltmeters, pressure gauges) to measure different flow rates and pressures.

    HVAC Technician Apprenticeships and Training

    In addition to HVAC technician training that takes place in the classroom, there are also formal apprenticeship programs, frequently sponsored by local chapters of associations and trade unions. These apprenticeships normally last three to five years and combine paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Applicants for apprenticeships must possess a high school diploma or equivalent. Apprenticeship programs are usually a pathway to certification and licensure. During HVAC technician training, students typically learn the following skills:

    • Reading blueprints
    • Safety
    • Theory and design of heating and ventilation systems
    • Refrigeration products
    • Equipment construction
    • Installation, maintenance, and repair
    • Mechanical drawing

      After either formal or on-the-job training, HVAC technicians can go on to attain licensing, which is required in some states. Requirements for licensure vary widely but always include passing some type of test, the contents of which vary by state or locality. In addition, those whose job requires working with refrigerants must be certified in their proper handling. Certification for purchasing and handling refrigerants requires mechanics to pass a written examination specific to the type of work in which they specialize.

      Resources for HVAC Mechanics and Installers


      • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm
      • Ashworth College, https://www.ashworthcollege.edu/career-diplomas/heating-air-conditioning/
      • Altierus Career College, https://www.altierus.org/program/trades/hvac
      • Lincoln Tech, http://www.lincolntech.edu/careers/skilled-trades/hvac
      • PennFoster Career School, https://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/construction-and-maintenance/hvac-technician-career-diploma
      • Remington College, http://www.remingtoncollege.edu/hvac-technician-training-school/

      HVAC Mechanics and Installers Skills

      Below are the skills needed to be hvac mechanics and installers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

      Skill NameImportanceCompetence
      Equipment Maintenance3.883.62
      Quality Control Analysis3.883.38
      Operation Monitoring3.753.12

      HVAC Mechanics and Installers Abilities

      Below are the abilities needed to be hvac mechanics and installers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

      Ability NameImportanceCompetence
      Problem Sensitivity3.753.62
      Finger Dexterity3.623.38
      Near Vision3.623.88
      Manual Dexterity3.53

      HVAC Mechanics and Installers Knowledge

      Below are the knowledge areas needed to be hvac mechanics and installers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

      Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
      Customer and Personal Service4.24.72
      Building and Construction3.864.94

      HVAC Mechanics and Installers Work activities

      Below are the work activities involved in being hvac mechanics and installers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

      Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
      Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment4.585.18
      Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge4.395.05
      Making Decisions and Solving Problems4.284.62
      Getting Information4.253.72
      Handling and Moving Objects4.255.26

      HVAC Mechanics and Installers Work styles

      Below are the work styles involved in being hvac mechanics and installers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

      Work StyleImportance
      Attention to Detail4.54
      Analytical Thinking4.36

      Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
      HVAC Mechanics and Installers

      Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in HVAC Mechanics and Installers jobs , as of 2019

      Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
      Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim9,450$59,780
      Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach8,540$45,890
      Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land7,650$50,630
      Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington7,010$46,710
      Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell6,040$45,510
      Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater4,390$44,840

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      Total employment and salary for professions similar to hvac mechanics

      Source : 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 24.3 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

      We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for HVAC Mechanics and Installers.

      Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.