Top 4 HVAC Career Paths: Explore & Compare Your Options

HVAC career
HVAC technician charging a heat pump with refrigerant

Looking for a cool career? HVAC technicians are responsible for literally keeping things cool – or at whatever the desired temperature happens to be.

These professionals take care of our heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, making sure our living spaces don’t get too cold or hot. They may also install and repair refrigeration systems, which are the foundation of the international food industry.

This type of employment might be an ideal choice if you like the challenge of working with diverse machines, and figuring out how things function, while providing an important service.

With HVAC training, you will have the skills and knowledge to service a wide variety of equipment in residential, commercial and industrial settings.

With a very favourable job outlook, particularly in the Toronto region, there’s no better time to get started in an HVAC career.

You might be surprised that there are several rewarding paths an HVAC career can take, including various specializations working with exciting new technologies.

Here are four top HVAC career paths to consider. It’s never too early to start exploring and comparing your options!

1. HVAC Mechanic

Most graduates of HVAC training become refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics, working for established companies in the construction industry—and perhaps eventually becoming independent contractors.

Employment growth is high in this occupation because there is an influx of newer energy efficient technologies in these types of appliances, which require skilled professionals for installation and maintenance. Meanwhile, less efficient, older appliances are often in need of repairs and replacement.

Typical workdays could include overseeing installations to ensure equipment operates according to a manufacturer’s standards, and diagnosing potential problems using specialized tools.

HVAC mechanics work on-site, often at clients’ residences, so pleasant customer service and proper safety precautions are essential.

Other duties may include:

  • laying out wiring, ductwork and piping
  • connecting systems to fuel and water supply lines
  • recording necessary information for the warranty
  • testing airflow and gas levels
  • applying safety codes

Today’s HVAC mechanics don’t just work on air conditioners, refrigerators and heating systems—they may also service furnaces, boilers, pool heaters and much more.

And some of these units feature innovative “smart” technologies that are internet-connected or use power generated from solar or geothermal sources.

2. Industrial/Commercial HVAC Technician

With extensive public and commercial infrastructure developments currently transforming cities like Toronto, there are additional opportunities for HVAC technicians to support this growth.

HVAC technicians working in industrial or commercial settings may be based at one job site for days or weeks at a time, focusing on larger projects with specific installation and maintenance protocols.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to HVAC Training & Career Paths in Ontario

These non-residential work sites could include food processing plants, supermarkets, ice rinks, and any other industrial-sized establishment with heating or cooling systems that require regular servicing.

This employment might be a good fit for HVAC training grads who appreciate less direct customer interaction, with the opportunity to work on teams with other commercial technicians at the company.

3. Transport Refrigeration Mechanic

Transport refrigeration mechanics also work in various industrial environments with a particular focus on managing temperature control in mobile units moving food, medical supplies and other perishable goods.

Possible employers include large transport companies, food wholesalers, and firms that specialize in maintenance and repair work for transport refrigeration.

Industrial employers require mechanics to follow provided blueprints and diagrams to install and calibrate the relevant controls.

These HVAC technicians assemble and install refrigeration and heating equipment, including gauges, motors and compressors. There is a lot of testing components and connections to ensure there are no leaks, adjusting valves according to accepted specifications, and adding gas or fluid into the system when necessary.

As with other HVAC career paths, job duties include using tools to cut and connect pipes and wires, as well as mounting compressors and other components onto frames and other specified positions.

4. Gas Fitter

Did you know that skills learned in HVAC school also qualify you for a range of careers working with gas-fired appliances? Gas fitters (or technicians) install, repair and maintain gas lines, meters, regulators and other equipment. Some typical duties in this occupation include:

  • Servicing ovens, gas fireplaces, boilers, hydronic heating systems, etc.
  • Testing gas equipment and replacing defective parts
  • Converting appliances to more efficient gas sources
  • Helping to investigate gas leaks
  • Advising clients on proper maintenance and safety procedures

Of course, your duties and job options largely depend on the level of licensing you achieve. In HVAC training, you will acquire Gas 3 knowledge, and get prepared to challenge the TSSA certification exam.

Related: What Exactly Does a Gas Technician Do? Duties, Challenges & Career Opportunities

Gas technician 2 certification is required to work unsupervised on appliances with an input up to 400,000 BTUH.

G1 is the final certification, needed to work on most commercial or industrial gas projects. You can pursue a G1 license after gaining a few years experience in the field.

Interested in pursuing one of these HVAC career paths?

Take a look at the HVAC training program at the Pre-Apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute.

Click below to explore the areas of study included in PAT’s HVAC program, and discover what makes us Ontario’s leading provider of quality trades training. We’re here to help!

Click here to get free information about HVAC Training at PAT.

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