Career Guide for Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Mechanics AND INSTALLERS

Standard Occupational Code: 49-9021.00


Pay Band(s): 3 and 4  (Salary Structure)


Standard Occupational Description: Install, service, and repair heating and air conditioning systems in residences and commercial establishments.


HVAC Mechanic and Installer positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Role(s) in the Building Trades Career Group:

Trades Technician III


Trades Technician IV


While HVAC Mechanics and Installers within the Commonwealth are all located within the Building and Trades Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   


Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:


Utility Plant Operations

Equipment Service and Repair

Engineering Technology



(Technical and Functional Expertise)



Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for HVAC Mechanics and Installers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


1.      Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.

2.      Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.

3.      Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

4.      Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.

5.      Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

6.      Installing equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.

7.      Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

8.      Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

9.      Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

10.  Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.



Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for HVAC Mechanics and Installers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


The Knowledge of:


1.      Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

2.      Principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

3.      Practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

4.      Design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

5.      Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

6.      Materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.

7.      Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

8.      Principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.

9.      Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

10.  Principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.



Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for HVAC Mechanics and Installers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.


The Ability to:


1.      Bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.

2.      Make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.

3.      Quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.

4.      Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

5.      Keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.

6.      Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

7.      Use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.

8.      Quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.

9.      Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

10.  Arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).



Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by HVAC Mechanics and Installers.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 


1.      Obtain and maintain required certification(s).

2.      Comply with all applicable standards, policies, and procedures, including safety procedures and the maintenance of a clean work area.

3.      Repair or replace defective equipment, components, or wiring.

4.      Test electrical circuits and components for continuity, using electrical test equipment.

5.      Reassemble and test equipment following repairs.

6.      Inspect and test system to verify system compliance with plans and specifications and to detect and locate malfunctions.

7.      Discuss heating-cooling system malfunctions with users to isolate problems or to verify that malfunctions have been corrected.

8.      Record and report all faults, deficiencies, and other unusual occurrences, as well as the time and materials expended on work orders.

9.      Test pipe or tubing joints and connections for leaks, using pressure gauge or soap-and-water solution.

10.  Adjust system controls to setting recommended by manufacturer to balance system, using hand tools.



Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.


The HVAC Mechanic and Installer occupation has the following characteristics:


Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.




Generally certification is required for HVAC mechanic and installer positions in state government.



All technicians who purchase or work with refrigerants must be certified in their proper handling. To become certified to purchase and handle refrigerants, technicians must pass a written examination specific to the type of work in which they specialize. The three possible areas of certification are Type I—servicing small appliances, Type II—high-pressure refrigerants, and Type III—low-pressure refrigerants. Exams are administered by organizations approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, such as trade schools, unions, contractor associations, or building groups.


Licensing information for trades occupations can be found on the Department of Professional & Occupational Regulations' web site at




The Department of Labor provides the following information:


Heating and air-conditioning mechanics install, service, and repair heating and air-conditioning systems in both residences and commercial establishments. Furnace installers, also called heating equipment technicians, follow blueprints or other specifications to install oil, gas, electric, solid-fuel, and multiple-fuel heating systems. Air-conditioning mechanics install and service central air-conditioning systems. After putting the equipment in place, they install fuel and water supply lines, air ducts and vents, pumps, and other components.


Technicians often specialize in either installation or maintenance and repair, although they are trained to do both.


Because of the increasing sophistication of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems, employers prefer to hire those with technical school or apprenticeship training. Many mechanics and installers, however, still learn the trade informally on the job.


Many secondary and postsecondary technical and trade schools, junior and community colleges, and the U.S. Armed Forces offer 6-month to 2-year programs in heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration. Students study theory, design, and equipment construction, as well as electronics. They also learn the basics of installation, maintenance, and repair.


Apprenticeship programs frequently are run by joint committees representing local chapters of the Air-Conditioning Contractors of America, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, the National Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors, and locals of the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association or the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada. Other apprenticeship programs are sponsored by local chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors and the National Association of Home Builders. Formal apprenticeship programs normally last 3 to 5 years and combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Classes include subjects such as the use and care of tools, safety practices, blueprint reading, and the theory and design of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems. Applicants for these programs must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Math and reading skills are essential.


There are 5 recognized apprenticeable specialties associated with this occupation:
Heating-and-Air-Conditioning Installer-Servicer; Furnace Installer-and-Repairer, Hot Air; Furnace Installer; Oil-Burner-Servicer-and-Installer; Air and Hydronic Balancing Technician


For general information about apprenticeships, training, and partnerships with business, visit the U.S. Department of Labor website:


In Virginia, the Apprenticeship Division of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) administers apprenticeship programs.  Apprenticeship programs usually consist of 4 or 5 years of on-the-job training and a minimum of 144 hours per year of classroom instruction. Detailed information on Apprenticeship programs is available on the DOLI web site at


Many employers, including the Commonwealth, expect trades professionals to gain knowledge, skills, and abilities in more than one area.  Multi-skilled workers can add value to the organization and often find that a variety of work assignments can be rewarding. 




Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.


The Commonwealth Competencies are:


1.      Technical and Functional Expertise

2.      Understanding the Business     

3.      Achieving Results

4.      Serving the Customer

5.      Teamwork

6.      Interpersonal and Communication Skills

7.      Leadership and Personal Effectiveness


The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 


Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!


For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to:  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 




Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)


For example: HVAC Mechanic and Installer




Practitioner Role




Manager Role


Trades Technician III



Trades Manager I


Trades Technician IV



Trades Manager II







Sample Career Path


Trades Tech III

The Trades Technician III role provides career tracks for HVAC mechanics and installers performing a skilled trade in a specialty area whose work ranges from journey level technician to lead. Some employees may supervise a small crew/staff.


Trades Tech IV

The Trades Technician IV role provides career tracks for the HVAC mechanics and installers whose responsibilities range from the expert technicians to first line supervisors of trades technicians in one or more specialty areas. The expert trades technician provides guidance to other technicians or works on a "multi-trade" team requiring specialized skills and knowledge in several trades areas.


Trades Manager I

The Trades Manager I role provides career tracks for managers who responsibilities range from assisting in the planning and direction of a buildings and grounds program to managing a comprehensive building and grounds program for facilities such as a training center, rehabilitation center, or hospital. Areas managed may include a power plant, buildings and mechanical maintenance, ground maintenance, housekeeping and related services.


Trades Manager II

The Trades Manager II role provides career tracks for managers who plan and direct a buildings and grounds program at a state agency or institution having multiple facilities characterized by a large total resident and staff population engaged in highly diversified and decentralized activities.






Virginia Employment Commission


Department of Professional & Occupation Regulation



Career One Stop


Virginia Career Resource Network


Air-Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)


Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (PHCC)


Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors' National Association


North American Technician Excellence (NATE)


Home Builders Institute


Mechanical Contractors Association of America


Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute