HVAC Installation or Maintenance: Which Job is Right for You?

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When you go to school for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Refrigeration training, you’ll prepare for an important job that helps people stay comfortable at work and home. Once you complete your training, you can decide what kind of HVAC worker you’ll be — whether you want to work on the installation of new HVAC equipment or maintain existing systems. In some cases, you might do both.

How can you decide if HVAC installation or maintenance is the right job for you? Here’s what to consider:

What kind of schedule do you want to have?

People typically learn that their heating or air conditioning is out when they need it most, like during the coldest winter day — not during off-season. So if you perform maintenance, you may be called to service homes or businesses late at night or early in the morning, and your schedule may vary. You may even be required to be on- call.

On the flip side, if you are an HVAC installer, your work is usually scheduled well in advance and you will likely work standard business hours. That’s because most installations will be at new homes or buildings, or as part of a renovation project. There may be late nights when an installation deadline is approaching, but you’re less likely to get middle-of-the-night phone calls.

How long do you want to work on a project?

If you perform HVAC maintenance, you could do a few jobs in one day. It will depend on how complicated the assignment is. However, if you need to install an HVAC system at a home or office, that one job could encompass the whole day or even weeks. Which type of job you’d prefer might depend on whether you like quicker projects or longer, more in-depth work.

Do you want to work solo or on a team?

As an HVAC system maintenance technician, you will typically work alone, have the freedom to work at your own pace, and move between multiple jobs in a single day. It will be up to you to troubleshoot system issues and determine the correct course of action for repairs.

When you are an HVAC installer, it’s more likely that you’ll be part of a team, especially when you’re involved on a major commercial installation project, like an office building site.

Do you like your day to be unexpected or planned out?

When your job is to perform HVAC maintenance, each day will be different, and your schedule may change once you’re out on the road for the day. Since HVAC systems involve mechanical and electrical components and computers, there’s a range of things that can wear out and go wrong. It’s up to you to run diagnostic tests and use your skills and expertise to fix problems and come up with solutions. You could also find out when you are at one job that another was added to your schedule for the day, which could change your plans.

But when you are an HVAC installer, there will be fewer surprises. Every plan will be a different because every building and home is, but since you’ll deal with new systems, what to do will be more straightforward. And because installs can take up most of the day or many days, it’s less likely that you’ll unexpectedly be called to work on another project that wasn’t already scheduled.

Do you want to perform work that’s always needed?

An HVAC system is such an important part of any home or building that people will always need them serviced, whether it’s routine maintenance or because something stopped working. But if you are an installer, your job may be slightly more dependent on the economy. When the economy is doing well, there will be many new homes and buildings requiring HVAC installation, and you’re apt to be busy. But if the economy isn’t strong, finding work on new installations might be more of a challenge. Whichever path you choose, what you do is vital to homes, offices, businesses—and people! Everyone depends on indoor HVAC systems.

If you are ready to learn more about the rewarding work you could do as an HVAC technician, contact Charter College today. We can get you on the path to your ideal career in the trades in as little as 10 months.