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AC Technician: Job Duties & Career Information

Research the educational and skill requirements needed to become an AC technician, as well as the job description and employment and salary outlook. Read on to decide if this career is right for you.

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Job Description

AC technicians, also called air conditioning mechanics and installers, specialize in the installation, maintenance or repair of air conditioning units in homes. Although technicians tend to specialize in one of the two areas, they are trained to be able to both install and perform maintenance/repairs on AC units. Installers place equipment, as well as connect water supply lines, air pumps, wiring and controls. Maintenance and repair technicians keep systems operating efficiently by checking equipment and looking for leaks; they make repairs using hand and power tools, a variety of measurement gauges and acetylene torches.

Educational Requirements

While some AC technicians learn the trade on the job, employers usually require the completion of a secondary or postsecondary school training program in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration. The completion of a formal apprenticeship in the field (which typically lasts 3-5 years) is advantageous in securing a job. Training programs may take six months to two years to complete, and curriculum includes courses that cover temperature control theory, equipment design and electronics. Additional courses include blueprint reading, shop math, mechanical drawing, chemistry, applied physics and electronics.

Licensing Requirements

Some state and local governments require AC technicians to be licensed and/or certified. A number of institutions provide certification exams to test the skills of an individual. The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute offers the Industry Competency Exam. The Secondary Employment Ready Exam, Secondary Heat Exam and Heat Plus Exam are all offered by HVAC (Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning) Excellence. Additionally, both the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society provide certification exams.

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that AC technicians must possess the following traits:

  • Strength, agility and manual dexterity
  • Ability to tolerate working indoors or outdoors in a variety of temperatures and weather conditions
  • Courtesy and tact in dealing with sometimes aggravated customers
  • Customer service skills
  • Detail oriented and problem solving personality

Employment and Salary Outlook

The BLS noted that opportunities for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration installers and mechanics should be excellent in the coming years. The field was predicted to increase 34% between 2010 and 2020, which was significantly faster than average. As of May 2012, median annual earnings were $43,640 for these installers and mechanics, per the BLS. Employer-paid benefits often include uniforms, tools, vans, pension plans and health insurance.

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Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • North Carolina (3 campuses)
    • South Carolina (1)
    • Virginia (5)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 18 years of age or older
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Idaho (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boise State University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework, Diploma
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Puerto Rico (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at D'Mart Institute include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Mississippi (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Pearl River Community College include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework, Diploma
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Michigan (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Northern Michigan University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Alaska (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Alaska include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Arkansas (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Arkansas Tech University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Minnesota (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Dunwoody College of Technology include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Oklahoma (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Oklahoma State University include:
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Leatherworking and Upholstery
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics