How to Become a Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers in the US

Proper functioning of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems is essential to creating a comfortable environment in residential, industrial and commercial settings. Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers, commonly referred to as HVACR technicians, are responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of these systems. This is a fast growing occupation among skilled workers, and entails a lot of physical exertion.

What Does a HVACR Technician Do?

The duties and responsibilities of these technicians include:

  • Install HVACR systems including fuel and water supply lines, motors, air ducts and vents, motors, piping, and condensing units as per the blueprints and manufacturer’s instructions
  • Layout the wiring for HVACR systems and ensure there is proper electrical flow
  • Conduct routine checks on HVACR systems including wiring, air flow, fuel consumption and electrical circuits to ensure they are running efficiently
  • Diagnose problems with the operation of HVACR systems and make the necessary adjustments and repairs
  • Replace defective or worn out equipment and other system components
  • Ensure that installation and maintenance of HVACR system complies with regulatory and safety procedures


Employers favour applicants with a good educational background in technical courses, in addition to work experience. Job requirements include:

  • A high school diploma or its equivalent. Focus on courses such as math and physics
  • Certificate or associate’s degree in heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration. Technical or trade colleges usually offer this program, which lasts between 6months and 2 years
  • Training under an apprenticeship program or vocational college program. Apprenticeship programs run from 3 to 5 years and in each year of study you undergo 2000 hours of on-the-job training and at least 144 hours of classroom instruction. Courses include blueprint reading, safety procedures and equipment use. You must have a high school diploma, driving license, be at least 18 years and pass a math test
  • Certification by an accredited organization. This is a compulsory requirement by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency for HVACR technicians who work with refrigerators. There are different levels of certification dependent on your experience level and you must pass a certification exam
  • A local or state administered license. However, some states may allow HVACR technicians to practice without a license


You should be in good physical condition to become a HVACR technician because the work is physically demanding. Other important skills include:

  • Mechanical skills for installation, repair and maintenance of HVACR systems
  • Problem solving skills to quickly identify problems in the systems and find effective solutions
  • Good communication skills is especially helpful because HVACR technicians interact with various clients


The salary of a HVACR technician depends on the place of work and experience level. On average, HVACR technicians earn $16.70 per hour. Those working in Systems Troubleshooting are the highest earners.

Entry level



Mid career






The most lucrative market for HVACR technicians is in Dallas and Philadelphia.

20 percent discount
20 percent discount

Source: Payscale

Work Environment

HVACR technicians work in settings that have climate-control defects. The nature of this work means that you operate in stuffy and uncomfortable settings to rectify these problems. You may have to do some heavy lifting, bending or stretching. That coupled with exposure to hazardous materials and working with power and hand tools increases the risk of injury. The work schedule if fairly regular except during peak seasons when you may have to work overtime or in shifts.

Career Prospects

Employment growth in this job sector is relatively fast set at 21% by 2022. This growth rate stems from the increased demand for advanced central air control systems. The Green Energy campaign and regulations pushes businesses and individuals to replace or modify existing HVACR systems to comply with the new standards. This is increasing the demand for HVACR technicians. Employment positions are majorly available in large residential and commercial facilities. Technicians with advanced training and good computer skills in addition to technical knowledge have wider career opportunities.

If you enjoy hands-on work in installation, maintenance and repair of systems, this is the job for you.

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