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What a Career in HVAC Looks like? (In-Depth)


Are you looking for a job in the HVAC industry?

Smart move.

As long as the sun comes up in the morning and the seasons change, there will be work in the HVAC industry.

There are various types of jobs in the HVAC industry.

This guide will talk about the various types of jobs within the industry, what the job entails, and how much you can expect to make.

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HVAC Technician

Becoming an HVAC technician is a good option if you like to work with your hands and solve problems.

HVAC technicians typically have two types of jobs.

  1. Diagnosing and repairing an HVAC system

  2. Maintenance and upkeep of a system

If you are a starting technician, you typically start as a maintenance technician.

The type of work you can expect to do is check the operation of a system and replace filters.

Checking the system's operation includes checking the system's electrical components, safety switches, static pressures, refrigerant pressures, and cleanliness of the system.

You should also be aware of any improvements you can make to improve energy efficiencies, such as insulation and other ventilation products.

In addition to checking the system, there may be some cleaning services you will need to do on the job, such as:

As a maintenance technician, you also have the opportunity to recommend upgrades to an HVAC system, such as indoor air quality products, for example.

Many indoor air quality products can be installed on the spot, so you will need to know how to install various products, including placement of the product and electrical wiring.

More experienced technicians will also perform repairs and diagnose issues with the system.

An HVAC technician can earn anywhere from $15 to $45 an hour, depending on geographical location and experience.

That does not include any commissions earned through products or services sold.

Each company has a different pay structure. Some offer lower wages and higher commissions; others provide higher salaries and lower commissions.

The company you choose should align with your values both as a company and in the payment structure.

HVAC Installer

An HVAC installation technician job is a more labor-intensive job.

Typically there is a lead installer who understands how to install and wire an HVAC system, including ductwork, zoning boards, and accessories,

Then there are helping installers who help with the more physical labor.

A helping installer is an excellent start if you want to learn the ropes and work your way up in the HVAC industry.

Apart from the physical labor, you will learn and gain experience with most of the central HVAC components.

Some of the work you can expect to do is:

  1. Placing and securing the HVAC system in the correct location

  2. Running and connecting the gas and refrigeration lines

  3. Wiring the system

  4. Charging the system with refrigerant

  5. Installing the ductwork and grilles

Depending on the company, the job may vary.

For example, some HVAC contractors offer insulation services, and others work with third-party contractors for insulation.

Installers can earn anywhere from $20 to $60 an hour, depending on geographical location and experience.

HVAC Sales/Consulting

If you like and understand HVAC and want to help people with their purchase decisions, then HVAC sales may be right for you.

As an HVAC sales representative or consultant, you need to understand the different types of systems out there.

The benefits of each system such as a unit's energy efficiency, heating, and cooling capacity, the proper airflow a system needs, and ongoing maintenance costs.

As an HVAC consultant, you can earn money as you gain more experience with the process and sales cycle.

The pay depends on your performance and the company.

Some companies offer a base and commission; other companies provide commission only.

Again, you need to find a company that aligns with your values.

An experienced HVAC sales consultant can earn anywhere from $90,000 to upwards of $250,000 a year. This again depends on geographical location, the number of appointments you have a day, and your experience level.

HVAC Inspector

Not all companies have HVAC inspectors.

Inspectors oversee the process from when the installation is complete until the city gives the final approval that the job is approved and up to code.

As an HVAC inspector, you need to know your local city codes.

These codes are in place mainly to ensure the HVAC system is installed according to safety guidelines and creates minimum noise to the neighbors.

Additionally, they ensure that the system installed aligns with the specifications sent to the city regarding the unit's energy efficiency and emission levels.

An HVAC inspector will visit the job site before the city inspection. This is like an internal inspection to ensure that it will pass when the city comes and checks it with no hiccups.

If any minor issues need to be addressed, they will fix them on the spot.

After it passes internal inspection, a final inspection will be coordinated with the city.

An HVAC inspector can earn anywhere from $15 to $25 an hour.

This again depends on the geographical location and experience level.

Licensees and Education Requirements

To start work in the HVAC industry, you do not necessarily need licenses or requirements. Of course, the more certifications and licenses you have, the more you are allowed to do, therefore increasing your pay.

To start as an HVAC maintenance technician, you need to learn the basics of HVAC and understand how a system works.

Many companies allow you to shadow a more experienced technician to learn the ropes until you can start independently.

You need a certification to work with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulated refrigerants. It ensures you know how to work and handle refrigerants safely to ensure minimum harm to the environment and yourself.

Until you have a license to work with refrigerants from the EPA, you will not be able to charge a system with refrigerants.

As an installer, you do not need any licenses as well. However, again, to charge the system with refrigerant, you will need an EPA license.

It would help if you considered getting a NATE certification as an installer or technician. This is an institution that provides training in the HVAC industry. It will help build your credibility.

Many HVAC companies allow you to learn the ropes from the bottom up with shadowing and in-field training; others will require you to get some certification to show you are serious about making a career in HVAC.

HVAC sales consultants, too, do not need any certifications or requirements. However, HVAC systems are very complex, and it is essential to know how to size one properly, as well as understand the efficiency of each one.

An experienced consultant will understand everything involved in an energy-efficient HVAC system, such as insulation, ducting, attic fans, and whole-house fans, as well as understanding the customer needs and wants when it comes to indoor air quality such as UV lights, ionizers, and AirScrubbers to name a few.

Again, many HVAC companies provide training and allow you to shadow consultants so you can learn the ropes.


Choosing your career is a serious decision in your life. You want to be sure your job will be relevant in the future.

You also want to be sure your career will challenge you every day and make you think, solve problems, and become better at what you do.

A career in the HVAC industry is both challenging and secure.

There are various career paths you can take in the HVAC industry, and what is nice is that they all complement each other. If you start as an installer or technician, it doesn’t mean you can’t change direction and become a consultant or inspector, for example.

The knowledge you will gain from one career path will help you in the other.

If you have any questions regarding a career in HVAC, contact us. We would be happy to provide you with guidance.

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