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Different Job Options for HVAC Technicians

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PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 24, 2011) Hull Maintenance Technician Fireman Yoasha Wood, from Brooklyn, N.Y., cuts a piece of metal aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan is conducting routine training in the eastern Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Terry Godette/Released)

If you enjoy working with your hands and solving problems, and have always been curious about how machines work you could be a good candidate for a career within the HVAC industry. Professionals working inside the field of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration repair will never be at a loss for job opportunities. The real estate and financial markets may ebb and flow over the years, but the HVAC systems within current apartments, houses and office complexes always need attention. Even modern systems break down from time to time, and this specialty isn’t the sort of thing that some weekend, DIY handyman will be able to pick up and solve. It takes specific education and years of hands on training, which is why you will always find work if you are qualified. But exactly what sort of work can you pursue? Here are some of the different job options for HVAC technicians.

Some people specialize in HVAC system design. This is something you can either pursue right away by going after advanced degrees at school, or you can return to it after years in the field. In order to design or update HVAC systems you have to understand what’s out there inside and out. But while you won’t exactly be reinventing the wheel, there are some modern adjustments that haven’t been perfected quite yet. Manufacturers are still looking for ways to increase the efficiency and environmental sustainability of HVAC systems, and to power these systems with alternative energy. You could also work on the control systems, which is more of a computer and electrical job. Regardless, this is an exciting direction if you want consistent employment in a lab or manufacturing facility.

If you’ve always considered yourself a people person and you’d rather type up orders than dig into a thirty year old ventilation system you should probably look into HVAC sales. There are many different elements to this job that will put you in a variety of situations. You could become a field sales agent, and go out to houses and businesses to offer quotes and options. You could work on the corporate side, either providing supplies to contractors on building jobs or outfitting new factories and large-scale business facilities. And there’s always the consumer sales floor, with work inside home centers.

The majority of HVAC professionals are hands-on technicians, handling general breakdowns. You’ll either own your own business and gather clients through advertising and personal recommendations, or you’ll work for an HVAC company that will send you off on pre-booked jobs. You’ll work hard, but the hours are fairly traditional. You will have to work on holidays, however, if an emergency were to arise. But though it’s dirty work you’ll have the satisfaction of seeing a job through and watching the real difference you make.

Finally, you’ve got a specialization on renovation. In this case you will be called in if a HVAC unit is in disrepair, but the goal won’t be simply fixing the current problem. Instead you’ll look to add on to the existing system to improve the service, expand the space it covers, update without a complete replacement or some mixture of all of the above. You’ll find these jobs most prevalent in the corporate world, but family-owned businesses like Filan & Conner plumbing have done this work for decades. And once you build a reputation as a problem-solver on this scale you’ll get called in for the big jobs. That’s great pay and long-term consistency you can hang your hat on.

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