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AC Technician Education Requirements and Career Overview

Job Descriptions February 27, 2013

Cooling systems are worked on by air conditioning (AC) technicians who ensure proper repair, maintenance, and installation. Students need to complete an apprenticeship and training program to become an AC technician. To work as a professional AC Technicians, individuals need licensure and certification.

AC Technicians Education Requirements

A general educational development (GED) or high school diploma is the minimum requirement for those who seek admission to a two-year AC technician program, which could prepare students for an associate degree. Coursework introduces students to topic areas such as industrial safety, gas heating systems, installation, refrigeration fundamentals, AC system parts, and electrical components. Prospective AC technicians can also use this training program to prepare for entry into an apprenticeship. Frequently, students can apply credits earned in a two-year program toward apprenticeship. Apprenticeships that last two to five years; typically combine classroom instruction and hands on training.

Certification Information

AC technicians whose job involves handling refrigerants are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to obtain a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) certification. Depending on the equipment they use, they could select from three types of certification, including certification for use of small appliances, low-pressure or high-pressure equipment. Certification will underscore an AC technician’s knowledge to properly handle and dispose refrigerator coolants.

Licensing Requirements

AC technicians need to obtain licensure in some states. Licensure options can vary by level, such as contractor, journeyman, or apprentice; or by class, reflecting the type of equipment they are able to service or work a technician is able to perform. Air conditioning technicians that work at large institutions such as public schools are required a steam engineer and boiler operator license.

AC Technicians Career Overview

AC technicians are involved in the installation, maintenance and repair of cooling systems. They may also receive training in ventilation and heating systems. During the performance of their duties, they are required to work with ductwork, compressors, motors, and electrical components. Knowledge of safety procedures along with local and state regulations will be an asset for an AC technician in their profession. AC technicians are often employed as private contractors or work for private, academic and governmental organizations.

Employment Outlook

In May 2009, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported average earnings for AC technicians (among other refrigeration and heating mechanics) at $19.76 per hour, although hourly earnings ranged from $12.38 upwards of over $30.00 (www.bls.gov). During the period from 2008 to 2018, the BLS projected a twenty-eight percent growth in employment for air conditioning technicians. The increase is due to residential and commercial building stock along with an increased concern for indoor air quality.

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