Qualified HVAC technicians are those who have a certificate or diploma from an accredited HVAC training program and have passed minimum state or national certification exams. These technicians will end up working in one of two primary sectors: Residential or commercial. While technicians may work in either sector, commercial HVAC technicians must have passed the EPA Section 608 certification exam allowing them to work on refrigerated systems. Certification for technicians who have have passed this exam receives an HVAC-R designation. In addition, HVAC-R technicians must understand the differences inherent between working on smaller residential systems vs much larger commercial ones.
Job Description for Commercial HVAC-R Technicians
HVAC-R technicians will be working on cooling, heating, and ventilation systems found in businesses or other public settings. Due to their large size, these systems have special considerations for providing comfort to a building's occupants. Compared to residential settings, commercial HVAC units usually require: multiple systems for efficient cooling and heating; multiple thermostats installed for adjusting temperature across building zones; and more intricate draining systems to manage water overflow.
HVAC-R jobs require that technicians be able to complete numerous, varied tasks such as these:
- Troubleshooting and repairing hydronic air conditioning and heating systems.
- Sourcing light commercial boilers, heat pumps, chillers and towers.
- Understanding the operation of various manufacturer's cooling and heating systems.
- Packaging roof top units with air-to-air systems.
- Retrofitting refrigeration equipment with new refrigerants.
- Balancing heating systems according to CFM (cubic feet per minute) requirements.
Many employers also require that HVAC-R technicians provide their own standard tools and equipment to perform these jobs.
Job Opportunities for Commercial HVAC-R Technicians
The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Department of Labor Statistics indicates that median pay nationwide for HVAC-R technicians was $43,640 annually in 2012. Employment in this area is expected to grow at a faster than average pace of 21% between 2012-2020. As technology develops, more HVAC-R technicians who understand computer controlled and digitized systems will be required.
The demand for HVAC technicians varies by state. In 2013, Emerson Climate Technologies issued a report revealing the top 10 states to work for HVAC-R technicians: California, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia. In addition, if you live in or around these major cities, the demand for HVAC-R technicians has been high since 2012: Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Miami. Check out resources online for more information.
Differences Between Residential and Commercial HVAC Systems
HVAC Job Description
Bureau of Labor Statistics HVACR
Top 10 States for HVACR Techs
Top Cities for HVACR Jobs