What Exactly Does It Mean to Work in HVAC?

The HVAC industry focuses on maintaining safe and comfortable indoor environments.

Working in HVAC means installing, adjusting, and fixing the building systems that control temperature, humidity, and air quality.

It’s about making sure indoor spaces don’t get too hot, too cold, or too uncomfortable—no matter what the weather is like outdoors.

HVAC is a broad and varied field. It encompasses heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems in all kinds of buildings: houses, offices, stores, ice rinks, storage facilities, and more.

In this post, we dive into what HVAC is all about, what sorts of career paths it offers, and what working in the industry is really like.

Here’s the info you need to decide if this trade is right for you.

 

WHAT IS HVAC?

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It refers to the systems that heat, cool, filter, and clean the air inside buildings.

We rely on HVAC systems to keep buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We also count on them to refresh indoor air and remove things like dust, moisture, smoke, and carbon dioxide so we can stay healthy.

Controlling temperature and humidity levels is also important to keep computers and other machinery running efficiently.

And without refrigeration systems and appliances, it wouldn’t be possible to safely store or transport perishable goods like food or medications.

 

WHAT DOES THE HVAC INDUSTRY INCLUDE?

The HVAC industry is incredibly diverse. It combines aspects of several different trades, including sheet metal, gas fitting, and electrical work.

Working in HVAC gives you a chance to install, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair things like:

✅ Furnaces

✅ Boilers

✅ Heat pumps

✅ Air conditioners

✅ Condensers

✅ Compressors

✅ Fan coils

✅ Air ducts

✅ Fireplaces

✅ Humidifiers

✅ Water heaters

✅ Walk-in coolers

 

You can install systems in new buildings under construction, perform service work in existing structures, or even sell HVAC components and equipment.

HVAC instructor Darren Fearnley has been involved in the field for over 40 years. His career has touched on several different aspects of the HVAC industry.

“I started doing new home residential sheet metal, and after about 10 years I switched to commercial sheet metal. Then I got into service work, servicing residential and commercial equipment for about 10 years. I was also a service and installation manager for about 10 years, and a sales manager for 5 years.”

 

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF HVAC ROLES?

There are many possible career paths within the HVAC industry. Here are a few examples:

✅ HVAC technician

HVAC technicians install and maintain heating and cooling systems in residential, commercial, or industrial buildings. That can include homes, schools, offices, hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants, arenas, food processing plants, and more.

These techs are responsible for laying out piping, wiring, and ductwork, connecting the system to water and fuel supply lines, testing all components, performing routine maintenance, and ensuring everything is working properly.

 

✅ Sheet metal HVAC installer

Forced-air systems require ductwork. The role of a sheet metal HVAC installer involves reading blueprints and sketches, laying out and measuring sheet metal for ductwork, and cutting and welding as necessary.

A quality HVAC course includes sheet metal training. However, many HVAC contractors look for installers who have their Sheet Metal Worker licence (308A).

 

✅ Transport refrigeration mechanic

These specialized mechanics work on refrigeration units in trucks and trailers that carry food, medical supplies, and other goods requiring controlled temperatures.

Common tasks include mounting compressors and condensers, connecting pipes, charging the system with refrigerant, testing for leaks, and repairing defective parts.

 

✅ Gas technician

Many HVAC systems are powered by natural gas. Gas technicians install and service gas lines, pressure regulators, and gas meters. They also work on equipment like fireplaces, pool heaters, furnaces, and boilers.

All gas technicians in Ontario must be certified by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA). Some HVAC training programs include preparation for the TSSA Gas Technician exams, so you can graduate with the license you need.

 

WHAT ARE SOME PROS AND CONS OF WORKING IN HVAC?

What’s it really like to work in the HVAC industry? Below are some of the major advantages and drawbacks of a career in heating and cooling.

Cons include:

✅ Working in tight spaces and lifting heavy equipment

✅Responding to emergency calls outside of business hours

✅Dealing with temperature extremes while trying to fix a malfunctioning system

✅ Potentially handling dangerous chemicals (i.e. refrigerants)

 

Pros include:

✅ Enjoying high demand for your services (HVAC technicians have a strong outlook all over Ontario, according to the Government of Canada Job Bank)

✅ Earning good pay (Job Bank data shows that the median income for HVAC techs in Ontario is about $66,600, and top earners make more than $100,000)

✅ Having lots of career options, including the chance to start your own HVAC business

✅ Enjoying the satisfaction of solving climate control problems for people

 

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HVAC TRAINING AND CAREERS?

Explore the 52-week HVAC & Gas Technician program from Herzing College.

Training covers the fundamentals of installing and repairing HVAC systems AND preparation for gas technician certification through the TSSA.

Our graduates can go straight to work as gas technicians or begin an apprenticeship to become a licensed HVAC technician.

Need more info? Click below to get further details and chat live with an Admissions Advisor. We’re here to help!

Explore the Combined HVAC & Gas Technician program

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