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Occupation Profile

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Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers
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Description: what do they do?
Install or repair heating, central air conditioning, HVAC, or refrigeration systems, including oil burners, hot-air furnaces, and heating stoves.
Also known as:
A/C Tech (Air Conditioning Technician), HVAC Installer (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning Installer), HVAC Mechanic (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning Mechanic), HVAC Specialist (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Specialist), Refrigeration Mechanic, Refrigeration Operator, Refrigeration Technician (Refrigeration Tech), Service Technician (Service Tech), Systems Mechanic, Transportation Refrigeration Technician (Transportation Refrigeration Tech)

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
    Transcript: Whether at work or at home, we depend on heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers, called HVACR technicians, to keep indoor air clean and comfortable in all seasons. HVACR technicians install electrical wiring and connect fuel and water supply lines to create climate control systems. They also connect systems to air ducts, and install controls for customers to set temperature and humidity levels. Some HVACR technicians specialize in areas such as commercial refrigeration or solar panels. Following government regulations is critical for installation and repairs, including proper handling and disposal of fluids and pressurized gases, and recycling or conservation of refrigerants. HVACR technicians work, at times, in thorny conditions: they have one of the highest rates of injuries due to electrical shock, burns, muscle strains, and injuries from heavy equipment. They often work in cramped spaces, sometimes in high heat or deep cold. Most technicians work for construction contractors on systems in homes, schools, hospitals, stores, or office buildings. Working full time is typical, with occasional evening or weekend shifts. During peak seasons, they often work overtime or irregular hours. As systems become increasingly complex, employers generally prefer applicants with a certificate or related associate’s degree, or those who have completed an apprenticeship. Workers may need to pass a background check. Some locations require HVACR technicians to be licensed.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are likely in the future.


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Please note that this does not account for the impacts of the current pandemic. Many occupations are likely to have very different outlooks due to the rapidly changing economy. When new outlook information is developed, it will be reflected here.

    Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings". This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET Bright Outlook occupations and My Next Move career outlook designations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
California
32,800
2018 Employment
36,900
2028 Employment
13%
Percent change
3,820
Annual projected job openings
United States
376,800
2019 Employment
391,900
2029 Employment
4%
Percent change
34,200
Annual projected job openings

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2018 (for states) or 2019 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2028 (for states) or 2029 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    Please note that these projections do not account for the impacts of the current pandemic. Many occupations are likely to have very different projections due to the rapidly changing economy. When revised data are available, they will be published here.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office, 2018-28.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2019-29.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers in California
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationCaliforniaUnited States
10%$35,450$31,910
25%$45,940$39,320
Median$59,800$50,590
75%$77,890$64,350
90%$100,120$80,820


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Program, May 2020 survey. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • Postsecondary certificate
  • No work experience
  • More than 1 year on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Education and training assignments by detailed occupation, 2019.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2018.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Test electrical circuits or components for proper functioning.
  • Service heating, ventilation or air-conditioning (HVAC) systems or components.
  • Repair worn, damaged, or defective mechanical parts.
  • Replace worn, damaged, or defective mechanical parts.
  • Confer with customers or users to assess problems.
  • Install heating, ventilation, or air conditioning (HVAC) equipment.
  • Adjust equipment to ensure optimal performance.
  • Interpret blueprints, specifications, or diagrams to inform installation, development or operation activities.
  • Determine operational compliance with regulations or standards.
  • Connect electrical components or equipment.
  • Braze metal parts or components.
  • Inspect systems to determine if they are operating properly.
  • Document operational activities.
  • Install energy-efficient heating, ventilation, or air conditioning (HVAC) equipment.
  • Install machine or equipment replacement parts.
  • Advise others on issues related to repairs, installation, or equipment design.
  • Drill holes in parts, equipment, or materials.
  • Cut materials according to specifications or needs.
  • Measure distances or dimensions.
  • Maintain repair or maintenance records.
  • Order materials, supplies, or equipment.
  • Travel to work sites to perform installation, repair or maintenance work.
  • Install home appliances.
  • Schedule repair, installation or maintenance activities.
  • Train others in operational procedures.
  • Supervise employees.
  • Lay out work according to specifications.
  • Operate cranes, hoists, or other moving or lifting equipment.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Building and Construction - Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Troubleshooting - Figuring out what is causing equipment, machines, wiring, or computer programs to not work.
  • Repairing - Repairing machines or systems using the right tools.
  • Equipment Maintenance - Planning and doing the basic maintenance on equipment.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or display screens to make sure a machine is working.
  • Quality Control Analysis - Testing how well a product or service works.
  • Installation - Installing equipment, machines, wiring, or computer programs.
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Operation and Control - Using equipment or systems.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Visualization - Imagining how something will look after it is moved around or changed.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - Keeping your arm or hand steady.
  • Finger Dexterity - Putting together small parts with your fingers.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Manual Dexterity - Holding or moving items with your hands.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Speech Recognition - Recognizing spoken words.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Conventional - Occupations related to Conventional interests frequently involve following set procedures and routines. They include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Investigative - Occupations with Investigative interests frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They often involve research and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Test electrical circuits or components for continuity, using electrical test equipment.
  • Repair or replace defective equipment, components, or wiring.
  • Discuss heating or cooling system malfunctions with users to isolate problems or to verify that repairs corrected malfunctions.
  • Connect heating or air conditioning equipment to fuel, water, or refrigerant source to form complete circuit.
  • Install, connect, or adjust thermostats, humidistats, or timers.
  • Study blueprints, design specifications, or manufacturers' recommendations to ascertain the configuration of heating or cooling equipment components and to ensure the proper installation of components.
  • Comply with all applicable standards, policies, or procedures, such as safety procedures or the maintenance of a clean work area.
  • Install auxiliary components to heating or cooling equipment, such as expansion or discharge valves, air ducts, pipes, blowers, dampers, flues, or stokers.
  • Lay out and connect electrical wiring between controls and equipment, according to wiring diagrams, using electrician's hand tools.
  • Braze or solder parts to repair defective joints and leaks.
  • Inspect and test systems to verify system compliance with plans and specifications or to detect and locate malfunctions.
  • Record and report time, materials, faults, deficiencies, or other unusual occurrences on work orders.
  • Perform mechanical overhauls and refrigerant reclaiming.
  • Adjust system controls to settings recommended by manufacturer to balance system.
  • Install or repair self-contained ground source heat pumps or hybrid ground or air source heat pumps to minimize carbon-based energy consumption and reduce carbon emissions.
  • Install expansion and control valves, using acetylene torches and wrenches.
  • Recommend, develop, or perform preventive or general maintenance procedures, such as cleaning, power-washing, or vacuuming equipment, oiling parts, or changing filters.
  • Install dehumidifiers or related equipment for spaces that require cool, dry air to operate efficiently, such as computer rooms.
  • Cut or drill holes in floors, walls, or roof to install equipment, using power saws or drills.
  • Mount compressor, condenser, and other components in specified locations on frames, using hand tools and acetylene welding equipment.
  • Measure, cut, thread, or bend pipe or tubing, using pipe fitter's tools.
  • Keep records of repairs and replacements made and causes of malfunctions.
  • Install or repair air purification systems, such as specialized filters or ultraviolet (UV) light purification systems.
  • Estimate, order, pick up, deliver, and install materials and supplies needed to maintain equipment in good working condition.
  • Schedule work with customers and initiate work orders, house requisitions, and orders from stock.
  • Supervise and instruct assistants.
  • Lay out reference points for installation of structural and functional components, using measuring instruments.
  • Lift and align components into position, using hoist or block and tackle.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.