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HVAC Technician Training: What to Look for When Hiring

Look for certification from a good training program when hiring an HVAC technician. Even better is on-the-job experience. But a great attitude and common values are also prime qualities in a new hire.

It took passion and blind faith to start your own HVAC company. You grew from a newbie contractor with uncharted beginnings into a booming success story. The hard work you put into your startup earned you the freedom to be your own boss and make your own decisions.

Now you are a trusted member of the community and have created a solid enterprise with a stellar reputation. You are also fortunate enough to have arrived at a point where you must either turn down jobs or hire some help.

What training should you look for when hiring an HVAC technician?

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the benefits of hiring a good HVAC technician for your team. We’ll examine what to look for in prospective candidates—from novice apprentices to seasoned technicians. We’ll also review some new Department of Energy regulations the HVAC industry must address. Then we’ll provide some screening tips, as well as four key questions to ask during the interview process.

The Benefits of Having a Good HVAC Technician on Your Team

HVAC Tech on a Commercial Job Site

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the HVAC industry is projected to grow by 5% by 2031. An increasing supply of HVAC technicians is needed to meet the demand.

The HVAC industry in the US is labor intensive, which means it relies more on labor than capital. The wages it pays to its workforce are one of its highest costs of doing business. When you invest in a new HVAC technician to join your team, it is an investment in the very core of your company.

The average age of an HVAC technician is around 42. Experienced professionals are retiring at a faster rate than they are being replaced by new recruits.

Shop classes are no longer offered at many schools, reducing the pool of future workers. Students with high school diplomas feel pressure to go to four-year colleges and take out student loans, even though they would rather go to trade school. Despite having an aptitude for technical training, they are discouraged from choosing that path.

This environment may make finding prospective HVAC technicians more challenging. Don’t despair—there are qualified candidates out there who have solid HVAC technical training.

Even better, a good tech program now includes alternative heating and cooling systems used by new sustainable houses. Hiring a skilled, tech-savvy HVAC technician for your team who knows the latest smart and green systems is a wise investment.

Updated energy regulations arrive with new HVAC technology

HVAC is the single largest energy consumer in the United States. The US Department of Energy (DOE) wants to address that dilemma and steer the nation on a course toward a more sustainable future.

The DOE set new HVAC regulatory milestones for heat pumps and air conditioners that kicked in on January 1, 2023. The last time energy standards were set was back in 2015.

Not only will HVAC technicians need to stay on top of the new regulations, but the change will also push consumers to replace their aging systems. You will need a good HVAC technician on your team to keep up with the demand.

What to Look for When Hiring an HVAC Technician for Your Team

HVAC Tech Checking Equipment

Certification from a solid training program is desirable when hiring an HVAC Technician. Even better is on-the-job experience. But a great attitude and common values are also prime qualities to look for in a new hire.

You are a locally owned and operated business and have always been upfront with your customers. Your clients feel comfortable trusting you in their homes and offices. You appreciate transparency and have the knowledge and experience to diagnose every problem an HVAC system can throw at you. You treat not only your customers the way you would like to be treated but your employees as well.

Your new hire should have technical knowledge and be eager to work. But the ideal candidate should also share your values and be willing to learn from your experience.

How to Screen Candidates

HVAC Tech Adjusting Equipment

Screening HVAC candidates isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. You’ll want to take a slightly different approach depending on the experience level of the candidate you’re considering.

Here’s what to look for.

Screening an HVAC apprentice

Enthusiasm for the opportunity can make up for lack of experience or technical training when searching for an apprentice. But you must be willing to put in the time and effort necessary to train a newbie who is eager to master the skills of an HVAC technician.

You should screen your candidate to discover whether they have a natural talent for working with their hands. Do they have a solid work ethic? And the zeal to learn?

You can train the right novice to install new HVAC systems, repair broken equipment, and perform routine maintenance. But you should also discover whether they are a team player and if they do not mind getting their hands dirty. Are they friendly? Do they feel comfortable chatting with customers?

Ask insightful questions when screening your new apprentice. By training the ideal candidate from scratch, you will gain an excellent team player who becomes an important asset to your company.

Screening an experienced HVAC service technician

The optimal seasoned HVAC technician candidate should be a highly motivated team player. They should not only bring a wealth of experience to the table but, more importantly, also fit into your company’s culture.

The basic requirements an experienced HVAC technician should have can include:

  • A high school diploma
  • At least three years of experience
  • An insurable driving record

Your prospective HVAC technician is comfortable with responsibility and confident of their abilities. They should also have excellent communication skills.

A background in troubleshooting and experience in diagnosing a wide range of equipment is essential. They should also be willing to learn new skills to keep up with evolving HVAC technology.

When you screen your experienced candidate, ask yourself whether they are the kind of person you would want working in your own home.

4 Key Questions to Ask During the HVAC Technician Interview Process

HVAC Tech Working on an AC Unit

Asking the right questions will give you insight into the candidate’s technical abilities as well as their ability to work out in the field.

You can gauge whether they are a good fit for your team by the answers they provide. You can judge if they are someone you would feel comfortable sending into people’s homes by observing their demeanor.

1. Why do you want to work in the HVAC industry?

This simple question is a great interview opener. The answer gives you insight into everyone, from absolute beginners to experienced technicians.

You can learn what motivates and interests a prospective candidate. Observe if they can express themselves with friendliness and clarity.

Part of being an HVAC technician requires explaining complex problems to ordinary customers. A good candidate will be able to communicate with warmth and intelligence. HVAC technicians need strong people skills to provide good customer service.

2. How do you stay up-to-date with the technological changes and regulations in the HVAC industry?

The response to this question shows if the prospective technician takes a proactive interest in their career. Do they visit certain publications like Forbes for the latest HVAC news?

Customers already ask their virtual assistants to adjust the volume on the TV, turn on the lights, or lock the doors. Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming ever more present in the HVAC industry. It is predicted to revolutionize the way we control the environment of our homes.

Is the candidate aware of the newest industry trends when it comes to smart heaters and air conditioners in the HVAC industry?

3. On a day of extreme heat, air-conditioning systems in the homes of two different customers go down at the same time, requiring immediate service. How would you handle the situation?

HVAC technicians must be excellent at time management. Routine maintenance is a necessary part of the job. They also often encounter several challenging situations on a single day.

Do they rank an elderly woman alone in an apartment over a young couple who can sweat out an emergency?

4. Do you have NATE or HVAC Excellence Certification?

Although not required to work in the HVAC industry, there are certifications available to everyone, from students to seasoned professionals, that test their level of knowledge. If a candidate has made an effort to obtain HVAC certification in a certain area, it indicates a particular commitment to working in the field.

NATE (North American Technician Excellence) Certification has four levels that an individual can achieve throughout their career, from entry-level apprentice to senior-level analyst. NATE exams are multiple-choice tests that validate a technician’s knowledge. Each certification covers different levels of basic and specialist skills within the HVAC industry.

HVAC Excellence Certification has a variety of certifications in different areas of the HVAC industry. Some examples:

  • Student Outcome H.E.A.T. (Heating, Electrical, & Air Conditioning Technology) Assessments
  • Professional Level Certifications
  • Employment Ready Certification

These certifications recognize an individual’s HVAC technical skills on a national level.

Bringing It All Together

HVAC Tech Checking Ducts

Many HVAC company owners dream of building a business that will continue to flourish when they’re ready to take a step back. But to make that dream a reality, every member of your team needs to play a key role.

Your HVAC technicians are the backbone of your success. Hiring the right technician from the start is crucial in building a strong team. To create a lasting business, you need to build a workforce that genuinely likes and trusts one another. They should also feel appreciated and fairly compensated.

By creating a culture that thrives and a team that enjoys going to work, you will lay a solid foundation for a business that endures.

Get Started

Here are some steps you can take to learn more about HVAC technician training programs and attract fresh talent without spending a dime:

  • Check out reputable HVAC technician training programs in your area and online.
  • Look for online forums or discussion groups where HVAC technicians and industry professionals share their experiences and insights.
  • Reach out to HVAC industry professionals and ask for recommendations or advice about finding new talent.
  • Stay up-to-date on industry news and developments through publications and online resources.

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