Careers in HVAC

Owners Jeremy and Sharon James receive membership plaque from Loudon County Chamber of Commerce.

HVAC Opportunities are Expanding

Can I be an HVAC Professional?

The HVAC industry represents one of the largest employment occupations in the United States. HVAC is one of the largest consumers of electricity and gas utilities in the nation. More electricity and gas is consumed producing heating and air conditioning than any other single use. The career field began growing the 1960s after residential HVAC became so popular. The service and installation of HVAC systems will always be an expanding occupation. No one builds a home or business without some type of heating and cooling. Unlike many jobs and careers, HVAC positions cannot be automated or outsourced.

There are a variety of job specialties offered in the HVAC industry. They range between entry-level helper and systems designer. Careers are chosen based on an individual's skills strengths, abilities, and interests. An HVAC career will allow you to develop your skills and expand on your experiences, positioning you for promotions, salary increase, and other opportunities.

HVAC Training on Gas Furnace Operation and Troubleshooting

HVAC Career Path

Many students who complete HVAC training begin their career as entry-level installation technicians. However, no two people follow the same career path. A career in HVAC can follow a number of routes and can be personally and financially rewarding. The key to success is remaining focused and dedicated and persevering. The technical skills and experience that you are gaining early in your career can lead to many other careers such as HVAC technician, installer, or sales. Here are a few of the more common positions in the HVAC service industry.

Entry-level helper

The entry-level helper (first year) provide the senior HVAC technician or installer assistance installing or servicing HVAC equipment. Most medium and large heating and air conditioning companies employ a number of helpers to assist with the installation and service of HVAC systems. A helper will be expected to assist in lifting, carrying, or placing of air conditioning systems. He or she may run errands picking up parts and cleaning worksites following service and installation. Helpers will receive basic safety training. Needed attributes:

  • Willingness to learn
  • Work ethic
  • If driving, clean driving record

HVAC Rough-in Installer

The initial installation process is referred to as rough-in. During this portion of the work the installer (first through third year) will install refrigerant lines, electrical lines, thermostat and control lines, duct boots and duct work, and set the HVAC equipment. Needed attributes:

  • Understanding of duct design
  • blueprint reading
  • basic hand tools
  • Brazing skills
  • Basic carpentry

HVAC Installation

HVAC Start-up Technician or Lead Installer

Once the HVAC system is installed and all of the components are ready for operation, the lead installer (fourth to fifth year) will go through the manufacturer's recommended procedures to initially startup the system. This checkout procedure is essential to safe and efficient operation of your air conditioning, heat pump, or furnace. The installer records all information needed to register the manufacturer warranty. Needed attributes

  • Electrical troubleshooting
  • Refrigerant charging
  • Good reading comprehension and writing skills
  • Customer service
  • Leadership

HVAC Technician

The HVAC technician (fourth year and up) is the the individual that provides the home or business owner with HVAC repair or maintenance. HVAC technicians must be able to diagnose system problems and make necessary repairs. He or she must be able to work independently with little to no supervision. Needed attributes:

HVAC Technician

HVAC Service Manager

The service manager is a skilled HVAC technician with several years of experience. He or she must be familiar with many brands and models of heat pumps, air conditioners, refrigeration systems, furnaces, and control systems. This individual oversees the operation of a company or maintenance department. The service manager assign jobs to other HVAC technicians and employees and oversee the execution of the work. Needed attributes:

  • Good management skills
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership
  • Customer service
  • Technical expertise
Important note: ALL employees entering homes or businesses must pass a criminal background check.

HVAC Career Outlook

The career outlook for the HVAC service industry is quite promising and strong. HVAC professionals are in high demand and enjoy good income-producing potential and plentiful opportunities for growth. These careers are not going away, can not be automated, and will not be outsourced.

HVAC systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, candidates with a postsecondary educational experience or an apprenticeship are often preferred. HVAC positions have grown 21% over the last 10 years. Refer to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for other relevant information about a career as an HVAC technician.

Opportunities for advancement are abundant. HVAC technicians may wish to advance in to supervisory or sales and marketing positions. At the contractor level, positions exist for technician, installer, project manager, and service manager. Emerging careers in the HVAC field include energy auditor, green-technology specialist, and performance testing specialist.

Number of HVAC Technicians in the United States

Number of HVAC Technicians in the United States | Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers, at (visited November 24, 2021).

Question: HVAC Technician salary in Knoxville, TN

According to Indeed, in 2017 the average salary for HVAC Technicians in the United States was $24.18/hr with $6347 per year in overtime. This varies by state. For example, the average in Tennessee was about 10% lower than the national average. The average HVAC technician salary in Knoxville, TN was $22.31 per hour.

Up next about HVAC

Now that we know what the jobs are, let's look at how you get the job. Take a look at our next article, HVAC Technical Schools and Certifications.

Written by Jeremy James

Jeremy James is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who has grown his family's HVAC business into one of the most successful home service businesses in Knoxville, TN. More than 20 years of experience in the HVAC and Engineering industries and passion for what we do has translated into our customer service, professionalism, and quality. LinkedIn

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