Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Many HVACR technicians receive postsecondary instruction from technical and trade schools or community colleges that offer programs in heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration. These programs generally last from 6 months to 2 years and lead to a certificate or an associates degree.
Training Required
New HVACR technicians typically begin by working alongside experienced technicians. At first, they perform basic tasks such as insulating refrigerant lines or cleaning furnaces. In time, they move on to more difficult tasks, including cutting and soldering pipes or checking electrical circuits.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 15% (Much faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all technicians who buy, handle, or work with refrigerants to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. Many trade schools, unions, and employer associations offer training programs designed to prepare students for the EPA certification exam.
Median pay: How much do Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers make?
$45,910 Annual Salary
$22.07 per hour

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installersoften called HVACR technicianswork on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings.

What do Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers do?

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers typically do the following:

  • Install, clean, and maintain HVACR systems
  • Install electrical components and wiring
  • Inspect and test HVACR systems and components
  • Discuss system malfunctions with customers
  • Repair or replace worn or defective parts
  • Recommend maintenance to improve system performance
  • Keep records of work performed

Heating and air conditioning systems control the temperature, humidity, and overall air quality in homes, businesses, and other buildings. By providing a climate-controlled environment, refrigeration systems make it possible to store and transport food, medicine, and other perishable items.

Some HVACR technicians specialize in one or more specific aspects of HVACR, such as radiant heating systems, solar panels, testing and balancing, or commercial refrigeration.

When installing or repairing air conditioning and refrigeration systems, technicians must follow government regulations regarding the conservation, recovery, and recycling of refrigerants. The regulations include those concerning the proper handling and disposal of fluids and pressurized gases.

Some HVACR technicians sell service contracts to their clients, providing periodic maintenance of heating and cooling systems. The service usually includes inspecting the system, cleaning ducts, replacing filters, and checking refrigerant levels.

Other workers sometimes help HVACR technicians install or repair cooling and heating systems. For example, on a large air conditioning installation job, especially one in which workers are covered by union contracts, ductwork may be installed by sheet metal workers, electrical work by electricians, and pipework by plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters. Boiler systems are sometimes installed by a boilermaker.

Home appliance repairers usually service window air conditioners and household refrigerators.

Careers for Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

  • Air conditioning service technicians
  • Air-conditioning mechanics
  • Air-conditioning technicians
  • Bulk cooler installers
  • Evaporative cooler installers
  • Furnace converters
  • Furnace fitters
  • Furnace installers
  • Gas furnace installers
  • HVAC specialists
  • HVAC/R service technicians
  • HVAC/R technicians
  • Heating equipment technicians
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) mechanics
  • Oil burner repairers
  • Oil furnace installers
  • Refrigeration mechanics
  • Refrigeration systems installers
  • Stoker installers
  • VRT mechanics

Similar Careers