Air Conditioning Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Air conditioning technicians may sometimes be referred to as HVACR technicians and are responsible for installing, maintaining and repairing heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems. These professionals work in industrial, residential and commercial settings.
In addition to performing installations, air conditioning technicians diagnose and fix problems that they find in air conditioning systems. In order to diagnose problems, technicians may test system performance using special equipment, such as hand tools, laptop computers and diagnostic hardware. They may choose to specialize in either installation, or maintenance and repair.
Some typical job duties of air conditioning technicians include reviewing blueprints, installing air conditioning systems, testing systems for proper functioning, performing emergency repairs, maintaining tools, ordering supplies, and making routine adjustments to maximize operational efficiency. They may also record data when inspecting systems, such as temperature of equipment, fuel consumption and hours of operation. Air conditioning technicians must recover and properly dispose of refrigerants when servicing air conditioning equipment since refrigerants can be harmful to the environment. They may also sell service contracts to clients in order to ensure long-term client relationships.
Although air conditioning technicians can learn the skills needed for their trade on-the-job, many employers prefer to hire those who have completed a formal training program. Training programs last from six months to two years and may be found in trade schools and community colleges. Students enrolled in these programs learn about equipment design and construction, electronics, temperature control, installation, maintenance and repair.
Another training option is to complete an apprenticeship, which involves a combination of paid on-the-job training and classroom instruction. Formal apprenticeship programs typically last between three and five years. Apprentices learn about care and use of tools, blueprint reading and safety practices, as well as legislation and regulations regarding refrigerant products. They also learn about the theory and design of air conditioning, heating, refrigeration and ventilation systems.
Some states require that air conditioning technicians pass a test and gain licensure. Work experience and completion of an apprenticeship program may also be required. Air conditioning technicians must also be certified in the proper handling of refrigerants by passing a written examination. A number of other different certifications and licenses may be earned to signify competency in handling different types of equipment, such as a high-pressure boiler operator's license, natural gas certification and oil burner license.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
Due to an increase in the number of residential and commercial buildings being built, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated that jobs for HVACR mechanics and installers would increase 34% during the 2010-2020 decade. The median annual salary of these workers was $43,640 as of May 2012, according to BLS reports.
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