Pros and Cons of a Ventilation Technician Career
Ventilation technicians, also known as heating, ventilation, cooling and refrigeration (HVACR) technicians, install and maintain heating and cooling systems in homes and businesses. Learn more about the pros and cons of being a ventilation technician to see if this career is the right fit for you.
|Pros of Being a Ventilation Technician|
|Faster-than-average job growth (21% growth from 2012-2022)*|
|Most jobs require less than a 2-year degree*|
|Stable job opportunities for individuals with heating and cooling experience*|
|Opportunities to specialize in different areas (heating, cooling, ventilation, refrigeration)*|
|Cons of Being a Ventilation Technician|
|Higher than average risk of injury or illness*|
|Might work in uncomfortable settings*|
|Some states require licensing and certification*|
|On-the-job training and apprenticeships are decreasing*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Essential Career Info
Job Description and Duties
As a ventilation technician, you'll install and repair heating, ventilation, cooling and refrigeration systems to control air quality in homes or other buildings. You'll use design specifications to connect or install wiring or fuel and water systems. You might also replace parts and maintain HVAC systems using different types of hand tools and testing equipment. Many ventilation technicians specialize in one area, such as heating or air conditioning.
Many ventilation technicians work for private companies, but 9% were self-employed as of 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Ventilation technicians can find work at businesses, schools, hospitals, factories and residential homes. You'll most likely travel to several job sites daily and work in all types of weather. Some jobs require you to work in small spaces in an uncomfortable or awkward position.
Job Growth and Salary Info
Jobs in the HVAC field are expected to increase by 21% between 2012 and 2022, according to the BLS. The recovering construction industry, advancing climate-control technology and need for HVAC system replacements or upgrades are some causes of this faster-than-average job growth. Job opportunities should be best for ventilation technicians who have completed formal training or apprenticeships and have knowledge of computers and electronics.
The BLS reported that ventilation technicians earned a median annual salary of over $44,000 in May 2014. The information services industry paid the highest salaries. The highest-paid ventilation technicians earned more than $70,000 annually, while the lowest earned less than $27,000 annually, according to BLS statistics from 2014.
What Are the Requirements?
There are no specific degree requirements for becoming a ventilation technician, but employers usually look for formally trained candidates. You can take courses in heating, cooling and refrigeration at a technical or trade school to earn a certificate or associate's degree. You can also apply for an apprenticeship program that offers paid on-the-job training through unions or contractor associations. According to the BLS, some states require ventilation technicians to obtain a license. The requirements vary by state, but most include supervised experience and passing an exam.
To work as a ventilation technician, you should be both dexterous and in good physical shape so that you can work in cramped spaces and lift the heavy equipment associated with HVACR jobs. Since you often have direct contact with clients, you'll also need good communication and customer service skills. Performing several jobs at various sites means time management and attention to detail are also essential.
Job Postings from Real Employers
• An Alaska school district placed an ad for a heating and ventilating controls technician with extensive knowledge of digital control systems and software to diagnose, repair, install and maintain heating and ventilation systems throughout the school district. Candidates must have a high school diploma, certificate of attendance or vocational training.
• An Indiana energy and utility company looked for a dependable HVAC technician to install and maintain heating and cooling equipment. The employer didn't mention an education or certification requirement.
• A Florida construction company advertised for an HVAC mechanic to install and maintain heating and cooling equipment. The preferred candidate has 3-5 years' experience and EPA certification.
How to Maximize Your Skills
Many employers prefer to hire candidates with some form of certification. Organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (ACHR) and the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI), offer different certifications depending on the technician's specialty. Specific certification requirements vary, but they typically include work experience and some training. Aside from these certifications, ventilation technicians can stand out to employers by keeping up with advancements in the HVAC field.
Other Careers to Consider
If a career as a ventilation technician is a career that sounds to specialized to you, consider becoming an electrician. These workers are responsible for installing, repairing and maintaining various aspects of electrical systems in homes and businesses. They might work independently or with a team. According to the BLS, you must complete vocational training or an apprenticeship, and most states require a license to work. Electricians earned a median annual wage of over $49,000 as of May 2011, and employment is expected to grow by 23% from 2010-2020, according to the BLS.
If you would rather work in a career that offers experience in a variety of electrical equipment, consider working as a home appliance repairer. These workers travel to customers' homes to install, maintain and repair appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, washers and dryers. You can learn the trade through on-the-job training, vocational programs or courses offered by appliance manufacturers. If you want to work with refrigerants, you must take and pass the EPA exam. The BLS predicted that employment for home appliance repairers would increase by 7% from 2010-2020, and the median salary for these workers was over $35,000 as of May 2011.