Typical HVAC Careers and Salaries: What Can You Expect?

Updated December 2023

So, you’re considering a career in HVAC and you’re wondering about job options and salaries in Ontario. Researching this information is actually an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the industry.  

You'll get a realistic idea of where you can work and how much money you can make. This will help you decide if HVAC is the right trade for you. 

In this post, we walk you through four common HVAC careers. You'll see typical duties and skills for each role, plus the latest information on salaries. We cover both entry-level and advanced positions. 

We also include stats on overall demand for HVAC professionals in Ontario and what to expect in HVAC training. Let’s get started. 

HVAC career #1: Sheet Metal HVAC Installer 

According to HVAC instructor Darren Fearnley, sheet metal installation is a common career path for newcomers and recent graduates. 

Darren started in sheet metal himself, more than 40 years ago, before getting into residential and commercial service work.

“The two main HVAC careers paths are sheet metal and refrigeration. Students who excel in the electrical courses tend to lean more toward the refrigeration side. Most of my students have job offers before leaving the program, or have already started part time while in the last few weeks of the program.” 

Role and Responsibilities of a Sheet Metal HVAC Installer 

  • Interpreting drawings and sketches of work to be done 
  • Laying out, measuring, and installing sheet metal according to drawings 
  • Hoisting and installing HVAC equipment 
  • Repairing sheet metal 
  • Following all safety codes and practices  
  • Cutting and welding 
  • Installing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning components and systems 
  • Installing roofing and architectural metal 

Good to Know

Many sheet metal jobs require a valid driver’s licence. Some employers want Gas Technician 3 certification, and others prefer candidates who have their Sheet Metal Worker license (308A). 

It’s also important to get safety certificates, such as WHMIS and Working at Heights. These are often mandatory requirements to work in sheet metal. 

A quality HVAC program includes these and other safety certificates, so you’ll graduate with the correct documentation. 

At Herzing, our HVAC program also includes Gas Technician 3 and 2 training. Students are prepared to challenge the TSSA exams and earn their certificates. 

Sheet Metal Installer Salary 

Almost all the sheet metal job postings we analyzed showed hourly wages ranging from $20 to $40 per hour (depending on experience, certifications, etc.). 

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, the median wage for sheet metal workers in Ontario is $36 per hour.


HVAC career #2: Refrigeration Mechanic 

Refrigeration mechanics work with refrigeration systems, including ventilation, air conditioning, and combined heating, ventilation, and cooling systems.   

You need to be a registered apprentice or licensed HVAC mechanic/technician to get hired in this role. 

Employers include transport companies, ice rinks, supermarkets, and residential and commercial HVAC contractors. 

Role and Responsibilities of a Refrigeration Mechanic 

  • Measure, cut, and connect piping using welding and brazing equipment 
  • Handle, recover, and store refrigerants 
  • Assemble and install refrigeration and air conditioning components 
  • Read and interpret blueprints 
  • Install, repair, and troubleshoot entire heating, ventilation, air handling, refrigeration, and air conditioning systems 
  • Test for leaks  
  • Recharge systems with refrigerant, check and test regulators, calibrate systems, and perform routine maintenance and servicing 
  • Repair and replace parts and components  
  • Prepare estimates 

Good to Know

This job often requires working outside in all seasons. You’ll need a valid driver’s licence, safety certifications, and your Gas Technician 2 licence.  

Some companies will expect you to work on call and handle emergencies on weekends or after hours. 

You need a good grasp of electrical concepts to do this job. That’s why Darren Fearnley says HVAC students who excel in the electrical part of training often choose careers in refrigeration. Working with electrical systems is a key part of this work.  

Refrigeration Mechanic Salary 

We found dozens of job postings for refrigeration mechanics with wages ranging from $25 to $45 per hour. 

Job Bank data shows the median wage for refrigeration mechanics in Ontario is $31.47 per hour.  


HVAC career #3: HVAC Technologist 

You can get hired as an HVAC technologist before you even finish HVAC training. You don’t need to be a registered apprentice or licensed HVAC technician/mechanic to get this job. 

Because they don’t have formal HVAC training, HVAC technologists can’t do tasks like installation and maintenance of heating and cooling units.  

Their role is limited to things like testing machines and recording data. However, some employers also want HVAC technologists who can use AutoCAD software to create mechanical design layouts and schematics. 

In general, this is an office job. You'll be working behind a desk on a computer, not going on service calls.

Role and Responsibilities of an HVAC Technologist 

  • Test machines and equipment 
  • Prepare data on equipment performance and specifications 
  • Prepare accurate design models, mechanical layouts, and shop models 
  • Estimate costs and materials 
  • Manage projects 

Good to Know

You may need experience interpreting engineering specifications and mechanical drawings to get this job. Some employers also require experience using AutoCAD, including 3D modelling. Estimating is another common requirement.

HVAC Technologist Salary 

Job postings for HVAC technologists list wages ranging from $19 to $35 per hour, depending on the technical skills required (like AutoCAD and estimating). Basic machine testing jobs are closer to the $19 per hour range.  

Meanwhile, positions that require estimating, the interpretation of mechanical drawings, and AutoCAD drafting skills go up to $35 per hour. But these require specific technical training and software knowledge.


HVAC career #4: HVAC Technician 

An HVAC technician handles all kinds of commercial and industrial heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. They work for wholesalers, contractors, engineering firms, retail and servicing companies, large apartments and condo buildings, etc. 

You need to be a registered apprentice or a certified HVAC technician/mechanic to get this job. 

There are employment opportunities for both new apprentices and seasoned HVAC veterans, provided you have the right training, certifications, and skillset. 

Role and Responsibilities of an HVAC Technician 

  • Installing and servicing heating, cooling, and ventilation systems 
  • Connecting systems to fuel and water supply lines 
  • Testing machines and equipment 
  • Laying out wiring, ductwork, and piping 
  • Diagnosing electrical and mechanical faults for HVAC systems 
  • Cleaning, adjusting, and repairing systems and performing warranty services 

Good to Know

To work in this position, you must have a Gas Technician 2 certification, your Ozone Depletion Prevention Card (ODP), and a valid driver's licence. Safety certifications are also a must, but those are included in HVAC training programs. 

HVAC Technician Salary  

HVAC technician salaries range from $20 to $55 per hour, depending on experience.

The Job Bank says the median wage for HVAC technicians in Ontario is $31.47 per hour.


STEADY Demand for hvac professionals in ontario

No matter which career path you choose, it’s good to know that HVAC professionals are in demand throughout Ontario. The Job Bank gives this field three stars (out of a possible five) for outlook and growth.

There are several other HVAC jobs you can get, in addition to the ones listed here. Other good options include gas technician/fitter, HVAC contractor, and HVAC salesperson.


how to get your hvac career started

It takes about five years to complete HVAC training, do your apprenticeship, and earn your Certificate of Qualification.

The good news? You can work and earn money while you work as an apprentice.

Your first step is to complete an HVAC pre-apprenticehip program. This training gives you a solid grasp of heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. Students also get hands-on training in installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting. 

Quality HVAC programs include safety certificates and Gas Technician 2 training, so you can compete for the best HVAC jobs after graduation. 

An employer is much more likely to hire someone with HVAC training than a person who just walks in off the street asking for work.


Interested in learning more about HVAC training and careers?

Your next step is to speak with admissions. An admissions advisor will guide you through the HVAC program, costs, financial aid, how to apply, and more.

Click below to explore Herzing's HVAC program and chat live with an advisor. We're here to help!

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