We love writing “skills lists” for all the different trades. Why? Because it’s an excellent way to preview both the technical and personal skills you’ll learn in training—and decide if you’re a good fit for a particular field.
Take HVAC, for instance. It takes a lot more than basic a/c and heating system knowledge to be successful in this trade.
Many new students are surprised by the mix of abilities required to excel in the classroom, and land a good apprenticeship (HVAC Mechanic is a regulated trade in Ontario, so you will need to complete an apprenticeship and challenge an exam to get certified).
So, let’s get down to it. These are 5 skills you will absolutely need to get hired (and stay hired) as an HVAC mechanic.
And if you’re ready to learn more, you’ll find some helpful links to training and admissions at the end of the post.
1. Customer service
Even if you have amazing product knowledge and really sharp technical skills, you won’t get far in HVAC if you can’t deliver excellent customer service.
Global HVAC company, Lennox, ranks “personality” and “client communication” as the most important traits for HVAC professionals. We’re talking about the ability to:
- build rapport with clients
- answer questions politely and thoroughly (even if the answer seems obvious to you)
- deal with complaints in a professional manner
- clearly and patiently explain repairs, product information, and recommendations
- always represent your employer well in the field
Think of it this way: in many cases, you’ll be working directly in clients’ homes. You must be approachable, friendly, and reliable in order to build trust.
These “people skills” are key for earning referrals and positive reviews—the lifeblood of any HVAC business.
Sales skills are another big asset in the world of HVAC. For example, you might work as a sales rep for an HVAC company. Or, be required to sell product upgrades while on service calls.
Many employers will expect you to promote their products, so they can sell replacement heating/cooling parts and systems to existing clients. It takes a special skillset to do this successfully.
Good sales people don’t apply pressure. They earn the client’s trust by recognizing their needs and concerns, and providing a product solution that truly fits those needs.
They take the time to talk with, listen to, and get to know their clients. They understand and respect the golden rule of sales: people buy from people they trust.
If you have deep product knowledge AND good sales skills, you can build a very successful HVAC career.
3. Troubleshooting & problem-solving
Let’s say you’re called out to service a heat pump that’s not working properly. It’s iced up and for some reason, won’t defrost. What do you do?
What if it’s making strange rattling noises, or keeps turning off and on (“shortcycling”)? What causing the malfunction?
A smart HVAC mechanic uses a specific set of troubleshooting steps to eliminate possible causes, and find the root of the problem. This involves being:
- able to follow steps and procedures
- able to analyze information and think logically
You’ll learn about common HVAC problems and troubleshooting steps in HVAC training. But when you’re out in the field, you’ll encounter new challenges, and will have to think on your feet.
You’ll need good analytical skills to work through unexpected issues, and solve small mysteries, accurately and efficiently.
4. Evolving knowledge of HVAC products and systems
This should go without saying. Obviously, you’ll get a solid foundation in HVAC products, tools, and systems while in training.
However, you’ll need to keep building on that knowledge, as you progress through your apprenticeship, and throughout your entire HVAC career.
For example, a quality HVAC program covers:
- heating and humidification systems
- air conditioning systems
- water heaters
- piping and tubing
- electrical fundamentals
- Gas 3 training
- Gas 2 training
- fundamentals of refrigeration
- safety training
This is enough to land an apprenticeship and start working in the field. However, there are always new products coming up in HVAC.
This field is full of innovation. For example, solar-powered a/c units, thermal heating systems, and Wi-Fi enabled thermostats. The most successful HVAC mechanics and technicians stay on top of the new technology.
Bottom line? If you want a successful HVAC career, you’ll need to adapt and continue learning, even after you’ve been certified.
Related: Explore Your HVAC Career Options
5. HVAC safety
No HVAC skills list would be complete without safety knowledge. You’ll be working with gas lines, refrigerant (which is poisonous to humans), and in confined spaces.
Remember: it’s not just your health and safety at stake. You’ll have to think of your clients and the general public.
If you don’t know safety procedures, cut corners, or take unnecessary risks, no employer will keep you. It’s the company’s reputation on the line, and the danger is simply too great.
HVAC training will teach you safety basics, but it’s up to you to follow the rules, understand changing regulations, and stay vigilant.
And there you have it. Five of the most important skills for starting—and keeping—a successful HVAC career. Think you’d be a good fit for this trade?
Take the next step, and learn more about training programs at the Pre-apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute—Ontario’s leading HVAC school.
It’s easy to get started. Use the links below to request free information, browse the HVAC program, or chat live with Advisor right away. We’re here to help!
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