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Different Types of HVAC Career Paths

Pursuing a career in HVAC opens the door to various job opportunities. On any given day, an HVAC service technician could perform several duties...

Pursuing an HVAC career opens the door to various job opportunities. On any given day, an HVAC service technician could perform several duties. In addition to day-to-day responsibilities, a career path in HVAC offers service techs a broad range of employment opportunities. In this blog post, we'll cover the different types of HVAC jobs that are out there and the vast array of career paths to consider.

HVAC Technician Job Duties

A certified HVAC service technician oversees the installation, maintenance, and repair of heating and air conditioning systems in commercial and residential properties. An HVAC service technician may also be called an installer or mechanic. They are also qualified to work with refrigeration and ventilation systems, known as HVAC-R. HVAC technicians are in high demand, especially at larger commercial facilities like office buildings, schools, and hospitals with various and complicated refrigeration and ventilation needs.

Growth Projections for HVAC Jobs

The HVAC industry continues to grow. This is terrific news for those entering the HVAC career path. The demand for technicians and related skills equates to solid job security and a competitive wage. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment in the HVAC field will increase by 13% by 2028. (The average growth is 5%.) The significant change is due to several factors, like:

  • The development of new and emerging heating and cooling technologies.
  • The need to upgrade or replace older HVAC equipment currently in service.
  • The continuing interest in improving energy efficiency and system performance.

HVAC Career Paths

The HVAC career path typically begins with training at a trade or technical school or an entry-level position at an HVAC company. With proven skills and experience, an HVAC technician can continue to become a foreman, field service supervisor, shop steward, or another management role. Senior technicians can assume management and customer service roles where their field experience is valuable, such as:

  • Project manager
  • Technical estimator
  • Service dispatcher
HVAC work in the field can be physically demanding, but there are a few roles that are more sedentary, like:
  • Purchasing
  • Inside sales
  • Customer service
  • Inventory consultant
  • Safety manager
  • Shop maintenance
Did you know that being HVAC certified can lead to employment somewhere other than an HVAC company? It's true! Many companies and organizations hire HVAC pros to oversee in-house operations at their:
  • Manufacturing plant
  • Research lab
  • Medical facility
  • Government offices
  • Shopping center
  • Apartment building
HVAC techs can also find employment at related businesses, primarily in support roles like:
  • Assembler
  • Fabricator
  • Equipment sales and delivery
More experienced HVAC career technicians can find work as independent contractors or start their own HVAC businesses. Going out on your own can be demanding and risky, but it can lead to great success for those who are independent and driven to succeed.

HVAC Specialization

Depending on their training and experience, an HVAC career can have many specialized opportunities for technicians. These are the most popular areas of specialization:

 -  Solar Technician
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics job forecast, the fastest-growing job in the U.S. is solar photovoltaic installers. As the solar market expands, interested HVAC technicians can develop in this green energy field by participating in a photovoltaic training program.

-  Wind Turbine Engineer
The second fastest-growing job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the demand for renewable green energy increases, the number of wind turbines and wind farms is likely to continue to grow – and with it comes the need for technically trained service technicians.

-  HVAC Engineer
HVAC engineers conduct assessments and recommend repairs or improvements to existing systems. Engineers work with customers and the HVAC installation team to plan and coordinate the installation of new heating and cooling systems. In addition to working directly for HVAC companies, HVAC engineers may work for design firms, government agencies, or equipment manufacturers.

-  HVAC Auto Technician
An HVAC career auto tech specializes in the maintenance and repair of air conditioning in automobiles. Most vehicles come with air conditioning as standard equipment, and there is a significant demand for HVAC pros. Many HVAC auto technicians have progressed to jobs in automotive assembly, manufacturing, and research and development (R&D).

-  Energy Auditor
Energy auditors play a vital role in preventive maintenance: They help identify when an HVAC system needs to be upgraded, retrofitted, or replaced. An auditor reviews every component of an HVAC system, including energy use, to ensure it works efficiently and safely. Along with enhancing system performance, an energy auditor helps building owners ensure they are compliant with air quality and energy regulations.

-  Indoor Air Quality Inspector
An Air Quality Inspector (IAQ) assesses the air quality in buildings and offers solutions to problems discovered. The inspector finds indoor pollutants, mold, allergens, and other issues impacting health and comfort.

-  Refrigeration Technician
Refrigeration technicians oversee refrigeration and cooling systems in homes or businesses like restaurants and grocery stores. A refrigeration technician specializes in installing, repairing, upgrading, or replacing refrigeration and cooling systems.

-  HVAC Design Engineer
Design engineers work with clients, architects, contractors, and other team members to coordinate and implement system designs. The job involves calculating the heating and cooling needs of the space and then planning all aspects of the HVAC system. HVAC engineers can work in R&D or design systems specifically for markets like retail, restaurants, office buildings, and large residential or industrial applications.

More Career Opportunities

There can be additional HVAC career opportunities for those with management skills. Technicians' interest in advancement often grows to become HVAC project managers. An HVAC project manager oversees installation and repair projects and ensures they are finished on time. The project manager works with customers, the technician team, and other workers. The position also requires the following:

  • Extensive experience in the field
  • Advanced technical knowledge
  • The ability to manage materials, workers, and time
  • Solid customer service skills

Additional Training

HVAC technicians often complement their training with other trades to increase their marketability. For example, some technicians may focus on preventative maintenance of heating and cooling systems, inspecting the system and all its components. Other installers may seek additional training to complement their HVAC career experience in trades such as:

  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Construction
  • Building inspector
  • Pipefitter/steamfitter
  • Sheet metal fabricator
  • Elevator/escalator installer
An HVAC career technician may specialize in specific systems, like radiant heating, or an area, like commercial refrigeration. The growing concern over energy efficiency leads some to specialize in eco-friendly technology.