Are you considering vocational training but aren’t sure whether to become an HVAC technician or an electrician?
It’s an understandable predicament, considering these two occupations can have overlapping tasks.
Knowing the various duties, skills and training requirements for each skilled trade can help you determine which could best fit with your interests, skills and resources.
Take a look at how these factors stack up against each other in this HVAC-vs.-electrician career comparison.
What Do Electricians and HVAC Technicians Do?
Electrician Job Description
An electrician is responsible for installing and maintaining the equipment needed to ensure homes, commercial centers and industrial spaces have electricity. There are a variety of different kinds of electricians, including residential electricians, outdoor linemen and telecommunications electricians.
But working with electrical wiring is common to most types of electricians. They can install wiring in new buildings, replace defective wiring and connect newly wired electrical systems to the power grid. Other job responsibilities include following building codes and regulations, including the National Electrical Code.
What Kind of Skills Do HVAC Technicians and Electricians Need?
As an electrician, you’ll often be working on large projects alongside other professionals, such as construction trades workers and engineers, making collaboration a vital skill. On the job site, electricians can be tasked with installing wiring throughout buildings while also assessing and replacing faulty systems. These tasks can require physical strength, endurance and attention to detail.
To understand what’s required of you for each project, you’ll usually need to be able to make sense of technical documents. Other required electrician skills can include supervising apprentices, which could require patience as these aspiring trades men and women learn how to wire.
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Where Do Electricians and HVAC Technicians Work?
Electrician Work Environments
The majority of electricians work with other professionals and tradespeople on larger teams. Only one out of every ten electricians work alone and own their own business. If you enjoy being in charge and don’t mind managing your own time, this might be a strength for you in this field.
As an electrician, you may install wiring in basements and for indoor and outdoor electrical systems. Worksites can be industrial, commercial or residential. Long hours and working weekends and evenings is not uncommon.
What Training and Licensing Do Electricians and HVAC Technicians Typically Need?
Electrician Training and Licensing Requirements
Some electricians learn the trade in apprenticeship programs, which can last 4 to 5 years. Others start in an electrician training program at a trade school, where they can learn basic circuitry and electrical information, as well as safety practices. Technical school electrician programs often offer credit that can be applied to an apprenticeship.
Although specific obligations vary by state, most require that electricians take a licensing test. Some professionals might have to take recurring education courses to keep their expertise up to date with electrical codes.
Beyond the required exams, electricians are also permitted to earn other certifications that can highlight their capabilities in special areas, for example solar photovoltaic installation.
Electrician and HVAC Careers Can Both Be Winners
There’s no clear winner when it comes to comparing a career as an electrician or HVAC technician because it really depends on which suits you best.
No matter which you choose, there’s an opportunity to develop a promising career. Better yet, both professions are expected to grow in the following years, which could mean job prospects for the foreseeable future.
If you’re leaning toward becoming an electrician, you may be interested to know how far you could advance in this field and the differences between a journeyman and master electrician.