Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) mechanics, who may also work with refrigeration, install and maintain systems that control the temperature, airflow, and air quality in buildings.
HVAC mechanics must understand how to read construction documents, plans, and specifications. HVAC systems are highly complex and are some of the first materials that contractors analyze in order to estimate the duration and cost of a project. Mechanics install or repair systems, which once completed may require water or fuel supply to be connected, as well as air ducts and other pieces that make the entire system work. Given new standards for buildings, HVAC mechanics may also check energy use and suggest ways to improve the system’s efficiency.
Some HVAC mechanics oversee an electrician or install electrical wiring and controls, then test the entire system. Many mechanics are assigned to a certain project’s system and are responsible for all repairs and routine maintenance. In the event of a malfunction, they need to determine the cause and to repair any worn or defective parts. Mechanics are normally either installers or repairers, depending on their skill set.
Some mechanics specialize in a certain area such as solar panel systems or commercial refrigeration systems. Mechanics need to know and understand all required government regulations, including how to handle and dispose of certain fluids and gases.
Being an HVAC mechanic is considered to be a trade career that generally requires an apprenticeship. The chief requirement to start an apprenticeship is a high-school diploma or equivalent, though many aspiring HVAC mechanics attend technical school, where programs may offer specific certifications and training that counts as credit toward an apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships usually last 3–4 years before a journeyman’s license is awarded, which allows a mechanic to work without supervision. Many HVAC mechanics go on to become master certified, which requires continued education and career experience. Mechanics who work with refrigerants are required by the US Environmental Protection Agency to be certified. Many trade schools and apprenticeships add this program to their courses of study.
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The average starting salary is $35,852. With experience, they can earn up to or over $60,694.
Maryland Center for Construction Education and Innovation
7400 York Road, Suite 314
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