How To Become AC Technician (With Key Steps and Skills)

If you live in a frigid climate, you probably find warmer weather to be a nice respite from blue toes and red noses. If you live in Phoenix, you probably feel a little differently.

In homes, office buildings, schools, hospitals, and retail establishments, air conditioning has become the norm. When an air conditioner goes out, it can be inconvenient and even dangerous in very hot climates where children and the elderly are susceptible to heatstroke. AC technicians are trained to deal with these challenging situations.

Air conditioning technicians install new equipment, as well as perform regular maintenance and repairs on existing air conditioning systems for businesses and residential dwellings. There are many reasons that a technician may choose to specialize in air conditioning systems, including the climate of the area where they work and a desire to work on more refrigeration and storage issues. That said, AC technicians are in demand across the country, and the work can be quite rewarding, both personally and professionally, for the right person.

Keep reading to learn more about the career outlook for AC technicians and how to start a career in this growing field.

How to Become an HVAC Technician
  1. Start with a High School Diploma (or Equivalent) In most states (like California), a high school diploma or GED is required before you can begin pursuing this career. …
  2. Pursue an HVAC Certificate. …
  3. Complete an Apprenticeship. …
  4. Look into Certifications.

HVAC Education: How To Become an HVAC Technician

What does an AC technician do?

AC technicians install, maintain and repair air cooling systems. Here are some highlights into what an AC technician does.

Designs and install air conditioning units

They first need to understand the buildings structure. Afterward, they make correct calculations to determine the most suitable conditioning unit type. The technicians also create an installation budget by estimating labor and material costs. They proceed to install the water supply systems, pumps, air ducts and vents. The type of AC determines these components. AC technicians must ensure that the wiring and airflow control systems are working.

Maintain air conditioning units

They should do routine maintenance twice annually. Most preferably, they conduct the maintenance during the onset of spring and autumn. They clean the blower fan, test the systems for leaks, and check the coolant amount in the cooling system. They also adjust the fan speeds and diffusers.

Performs system repairs to ensure the units are functional

They use blueprints, systems manuals and building codes to troubleshoot problems. Depending on the malfunctions intensity, they may overhaul and rebuild the entire system.

Ensure customer satisfaction

They solve queries and meet clients work requests. The requests range from planning new installations to modifications and overhauling projects.

Train the less experienced colleagues

Quite often, it is students on internship or apprenticeship programs.

Ensure that the air conditioning systems meet all the standards

Standards include safety procedures and quality control measures. They ensure compliance with all the specifications put in place by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Using various hand and power tools

Tools may include pipe cutters and acetylene torches. They also operate other testing and measuring equipment such as pressure gauges. AC technicians run the equipment, read meters and make any adjustments as needed.

What is an AC technician?

An air conditioning (AC) technician is trained to install, maintain and repair air conditioning systems. They work in residential areas, commercial, industrial, school and hospital facilities with air conditioning units. Most ac technicians are trained as heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians (HVAC) but may choose to specialize in air conditioning systems. Also, an AC technician may focus on a single area, such as installing new units, conducting system maintenance or providing repairs.

How to become an AC technician

Are you interested in becoming an AC technician? There are various specifications that employers require AC technicians to have. In the steps, below we discuss how to become an AC technician.

1. Get a high-school diploma

Prospective AC technicians should earn a high-school diploma. High school students should preferably take relevant courses that are admirable when pursuing further training in HVAC. They include physics, mathematics and computer science. Vocational classes in plumbing, wood and metalwork, electronics and blueprint reading are essential.

2. Get formal training

After completing high school, most ac technicians train to earn a certificate in HVAC. The time commitment for this program is usually 10 months to two years. They cover many topics that include the use of multiple tools and equipment. Other topics include diagnostic training and aspects of electronics, mechanics and refrigeration. This accreditation is vital for technicians when they are applying for apprenticeships.

3. Complete an apprenticeship program

4. Acquire the necessary certifications and licenses

The HVAC certifications and license show that the AC technician is well trained and qualified. The licenses are acquired by passing the specialized exams and getting certified by the federal government. The North American Trade Excellence (NATE) and HVAC Excellence are credible agencies where AC technicians can take proficiency tests. HVAC technicians should also obtain certification from the federal government. AC technicians should have a chlorofluorocarbon certification (CFC) from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. The certification allows them to handle and dispose of refrigerator coolants.

5. Start working

6. Further your education

Most AC technicians who further their education have access to more job opportunities and increased salaries. For instance, AC technicians can enroll for an associate degree that takes two years to complete. They gain more skills in handling heat pumps, technical physics, metal and electrical works. A bachelors degree takes up to four years to complete and equips AC technicians with additional skills in HVAC controls, HVAC designs and contracting services.

Prospective AC technicians need to follow all the steps above. Eventually, they can work as independent contractors or get employed by the government or private entities.

Skills and qualities of ac technicians

AC technicians should have the right skills, knowledge, experience and abilities to make them successful in the workplace. The segment below highlights the skills and qualities of AC technicians.

Technical skills

AC technicians should need equipping with various technical skills to handle maintenance and repair of equipment. These skills include in-depth knowledge in mathematics, physics, plumbing, metal works and electrical skills. They should also have an in-depth understanding of the guiding principles of air conditioning. Proficiency in computer systems is also vital in writing reports. Some computer programs may also be critical in monitoring the air conditioning systems.


AC technicians should be reliable. The job may entail handling emergency repairs that need the technician to attend to almost immediately. An AC technician should work beyond the working hours since some tasks can take longer to complete. The supervisors may also need them to work during the weekends, especially during the scorching and cold seasons.

Excellent communication skills

An AC technician should possess excellent verbal and written communication skills. In their job setup, AC technicians interact with many clients. Therefore, they should listen carefully and grasp all the essential details regarding a project or queries. It is also crucial that the technicians communicate effectively with their supervisors and trainees on apprenticeships. Their good written skills should also reflect on work reports and contract proposals.


AC technicians should be flexible since they must work under pressure in some extreme work environments. They find themselves in situations where they need to access roofs, attics and extreme heights. The AC technicians also get exposed to willing to get exposed to dust, fumes and some other toxic materials. The risk of getting muscle injuries, electrical burns and shocks and developing pulmonary complications is also high.

Decision-making skills

AC technicians should have the ability to make lasting decisions that have a positive impact. They should be able to identify problems, look for and implement effective solutions. These skills are vital in delivering efficient and effective services.


The world of technology is continually evolving. AC technicians should be willing to learn about the changing air conditioning systems and push for more energy-efficient solutions. For instance, they should know about the ever-changing speed fan motors.

Attentive to detail

The responsibilities of an AC technician are fragile therefore need attention to detail when handling. They should follow key government regulations regarding the handling of refrigerators and air-cooling systems. They should evaluate all the safety hazards during the installation, maintenance and repairing of the cooling units.

Ability to use various tools

AC technicians should have the ability to use different tools and equipment necessary in their line of duty. They include acetylene torches and hammers.

AC technician salary

Two factors determine the pay scale for AC technicians; experience and location. AC technicians that are just joining the profession earn less compared to those that are more experienced. When working at an apprentice level, the companies pay technicians a percentage of their supervisors salary. After the employer absorbs them as permanent employees, the earnings increase depending on the position and company.

The cost of living and experience plays a massive role in determining the pay range. In states with higher costs of living, AC technicians make more money. But, in states where the cost of living is low, the technicians may earn less than their counterparts. Technicians with experience of zero to five years make less money. This is in comparison to those with knowledge of 10 to 20 years


Is AC a good career?

PRO: HVAC Has Great Job Outlook and Compensation

Because of this fact, the employment prospects of HVAC technicians are expected to burn brightly for quite some time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HVAC technician employment is expected to increase by 15 percent through 2026.

What is the salary of AC technician in India?

An early career Air Conditioning Mechanic with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of ₹250,000 based on 15 salaries. A mid-career Air Conditioning Mechanic with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of ₹450,000 based on 5 salaries.

What skills do I need to be an HVAC technician?

5 Skills Every HVAC Technician Should Possess
  • In-Depth Knowledge of HVAC Systems and Methods.
  • Acute Troubleshooting and Problem-Solving Skills.
  • Extensive Knowledge of Safety Standards and Protocols.
  • Soft Skills, Communication, and Flexibility.
  • Willingness to Continue HVAC Learning and Training.

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