what is an HVAC technician?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. An HVAC technician covers many tasks involving repairing and installing HVAC systems. The job combines physical labour with mental expertise. That's why HVAC technicians should be mechanically minded and comfortable working with their hands. As an HVAC technician, you often work in extreme temperatures and use dangerous equipment. Despite these challenges, being an HVAC technician is an exciting and rewarding job.

what HVAC technicians do

HVAC technicians spend their time repairing and maintaining HVAC equipment. Often, technicians go to service calls where they meet with customers, diagnose issues and recommend fixes. Many technicians also fabricate HVAC systems and install new HVAC units. HVAC technicians work on various types of equipment, including air conditioners, heaters, furnaces and heat pumps. Most work on residential equipment, but some work on industrial and commercial equipment. Apart from working on heating and air conditioning systems, HVAC technicians also work on refrigeration systems. Your job is to troubleshoot and repair refrigerators and freezers.

Many technicians work for HVAC companies. However, you can work independently with a service agency. As an HVAC technician, you spend a lot of time travelling around town to visit homes and businesses. You also spend time with customers in shops or working with equipment on a manufacturing site.

Would working as an HVAC technician suit your troubleshooting skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an HVAC technician role.

HVAC technician jobs

average HVAC technician salary

According to ONS, the median salary of an HVAC technician is £35,510 per year. However, the compensation package fluctuates based on various factors. New HVAC technicians have minimal experience, which lowers their salary expectations to £29,590 annually. However, expert HVAC technicians with some years of experience earn over £43,772 per year. Most employers provide opportunities for earning extra money, like working unconventional hours. If you respond to emergency calls or work overtime, you are likely to earn more.

how to increase the salary of an HVAC technician

Your expertise is the main determinant of your salary. For instance, when you have a year of experience, you cannot perform complex repairs or installation tasks, so your salary is lower than experts with over five years of experience. Your location also influences your compensation package. If you live in a high-cost area like London, you typically earn a higher salary due to the demand for HVAC technicians.

The company you work for also influences your pay. Working for an established service company has many perks compared to start-ups. For instance, they have unlimited resources and take up complex or large-scale projects that attract higher salaries.

Close up - male looking behind him while sitting in a forklift
Close up - male looking behind him while sitting in a forklift

types of HVAC technicians

Anyone working on HVAC equipment is an HVAC technician, so there's a lot of variation in HVAC technician types. Depending on the specialism you choose, you may encounter different training requirements and job duties. Some types of HVAC technicians include:

  • general service technicians: these HVAC technicians spend their time working on residential systems. A typical day involves travelling around to various service calls to help with repairs and maintenance. You also install the HVAC systems.
  • commercial hvac technicians: as a commercial technician, you specialise in HVAC systems for businesses. Your job involves working with oversized equipment, which requires additional training. Commercial HVAC is also more challenging because the systems cool server rooms and other areas to specific temperatures.
  • design and installation technicians: as a design and installation technician, you have some overlapping roles with engineers. A technician who designs, fabricates and installs new systems needs to understand HVAC systems. This involves calculating the right amount of pressure for a system, determining the right size components and following the drafts to create ductwork and other elements.
  • refrigerator technicians: some technicians focus on refrigeration. Refrigerators are mini air conditioners that get extremely cold, so these technicians work with restaurants, food suppliers and other businesses needing large refrigeration rooms.

working as an HVAC technician

If being an HVAC technician sounds exciting, it's a good idea to learn more about the role. Here are some things you can expect if you go into this field:


education and skills

Some of the routes for becoming an HVAC technician include:

  • college course: to become an HVAC technician, you could pursue a college course to learn about HVAC systems. When you complete a college course, you become a trainee technician. Suitable courses include a Level 2 Diploma in access to building services engineering or a Level 2 Diploma in installing and maintaining refrigeration systems. Level 3 and T Level courses in building services engineering are also available. The entry-level requirements for Level 2 courses are 2 GCSEs in grades 9 to 3, while Level 3 and T Level courses require 4 or 5 GCSEs in grades 9 to 3, including English and maths.
  • apprenticeship: you can train to become an HVAC technician through apprenticeship programmes, including building services, engineering installer intermediate or advanced apprenticeship. You shadow an expert HVAC technician to learn the ropes when you complete the programme.

skills and competencies

Aside from technical skills, you require soft skills, including:

  • troubleshooting skills: as an HVAC technician, you should be a quick-thinking worker to provide excellent services. It is essential to have troubleshooting skills to resolve problems in HVAC systems.
  • customer service skills: as an HVAC technician, customer service skills are as necessary as technical expertise. Sometimes a customer has a total system failure or temperature balancing issues. You require patience to deal with frustrated customers and good communication skills to build trust and rapport.
  • critical thinking skills: your critical thinking skills help you react to changing situations, analyse different perspectives, and find solutions to complex problems.
man with goggles
man with goggles


FAQs about working as an HVAC technician.

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