WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING HVAC TECHS

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING HVAC TECHS Image: black background with a man thinking and looking up at title in blue shirt

Finding experienced and qualified HVAC techs in Canada and the USA can be very difficult and hard to find, especially with such a shortage in the skilled trades. This challenge can also be magnified by geographic location, shift, wages and overall compensation package, and specific certification requirements. Despite all this, you’re not going to want to settle on hiring just any HVAC/R employee. Below is a guide of what companies, employers, and hiring managers should consider when hiring:

  • HVAC Service Technicians
  • Refrigeration Techs
  • Diagnostic (DX) Technicians
  • Hot and Cold Food Technicians
  • HVAC Installers
  • Gas Fitters
  • Sheet Metal Workers
  • Parts or Service Coordinators
  • Supervisors/Managers

WORK HISTORY

Look at the employment history on their resume and keep an eye out for anything that looks jumpy or gaps in employment.  Keep in mind, there may be valid reason why they may have a short tenure or job history, such as company lay offs, companies closing, relocation, construction project finished, etc., which you won’t find out until you actually call and speak with them.

The work history also provides an insight into specific experience such as the type of industry and work environments the HVAC employee is has been exposed to, such as residential, light commercial, commercial, industrial, union, non-union, new construction, retrofit, etc.  In addition, types of HVAC equipment and systems they are experienced with, such as Air Conditioners, RTU’s, Make Up Air Units, Chillers, Boilers, Furnaces, Tankless Units, Ductless Units, Hydronic Systems, Cooling Towers, Freezers, Water Tanks, Control Systems, Duct Work, Sheet Metal, BAS, etc.

SOFT SKILLS

You can’t see attitude or the “like” factor on a resume. A positive attitude and a willingness to learn will go a long way in building a Rockstar team, ensuring your team is cohesive, and reducing the possibility of a negative work environment. Hard skills can be trained, but soft skills such as personality and attitude cannot.

CERTIFICATIONS

The Canadian and American HVAC trade have very specific licenses and certifications required to independently service and install HVAC systems and equipment.  In Canada, having a Red Seal Journeyman certification means you are qualified across Canada and have completed the apprenticeship, hours, and blocks of school needed.  In the United States, each State has its own specific licensing requirements and differs from State to State. See below for common certifications/licenses in Canada and the USA.

Canadian

  • 313A Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Systems Mechanic (Commercial) – Red Seal Designation
  • 313D Residential Air Conditioning Systems Mechanic license – Red Seal Designation
  • Gas Fitter 1 (G1): highest level of certification for gas technicians; able to work on a firing rate of more than 400,000 BTUs.
  • Gas Fitter 2 (G2): able to work independently on appliances with input of 400,000 BTUH or less.
  • Gas Fitter 3 (G3)
  • Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP)
  • 308A or 309R Sheet Metal

American

  • EPA 608, 609, Universal
  • NATE Certification
  • Commercial Food Equipment Service Association (CFESA)
  • State HVAC Certification (where applicable)
  • State Contractor’s License (where applicable)
  • State Sheet Metal Certification (where applicable)

Trade Safety Certifications: Keep an eye out for any common safety training required, such as Working from Heights (WFH), Confined Spaces, OSHA-10, OSHA-20, OSHA-30.  These are typically very easy and quick to obtain, so if your potential Technician, Fitter, or Installer does not have them, do not overlook their candidacy. If it is a mandatory requirement, you can either have them obtain it prior to employment or give a timeline of completion. 

DRIVING LICENSE

HVAC skilled tradespeople are typically on the road and using a company service vehicle that they are often able to take home. Save yourself some grief and high insurance costs by asking the candidate if they have a valid driver’s license and what type (i.e., G, G2, CDL, DZ, Chauffeur’s etc.).  DON’T assume every applicant has a full license or that it’s valid.

EDUCATION

HVAC/R, like other skilled trades, is highly technical and trade schools and colleges provide a solid foundation to those who want to get ahead in the trade or looking to start their career. Below are some well known and popular Canadian and American trade schools and licensing bodies you will often find on resumes.  Please note, in no way is this list complete or inclusive of all vocational schools.

CANADA

HiMark Occupational Skills and Training Centre Ltd.Conestoga College             
New Brunswick Community College (NBCC)Centennial College
College of the North Atlantic (CNA)NAIT
Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC)Fanshawe College
Saskatchewan Polytechnic      HRAI
George Brown CollegeT.S.S.A
Red River College (RRC)BCIT
Vanier College ITA BC
Ontario Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (ORAC)

UNITED STATES

HVAC Technical InstituteThe Refrigeration School
Lincoln TechAustin Community College
Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC)Pearl River Community College (PRCC)
Ferris State University        Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC)
Northwest Louisiana Technical College (NLTC)Moore Tech
Indian River State College (IRSC)Lewis Clark State College (LCSC)
Moraine Valley Community College              Ashworth College

Although it does take some time, effort, and planning, participating in college job fairs are also a great HVAC recruiting tool to get the attention of aspiring HVAC, Gas Fitter, and Sheet Metal apprentices about you as a potential employer. 

BACKGROUND CHECKS & REFERENCES

A simple and effective way to ensure you are hiring qualified, experienced, and licensed employees that are easily insurable is to run at the very least a Driving Record/MVOR and Criminal Background check; Drug Screening and Physical Background checks are also very common. 

Contacting references from the potential tech’s previous employer, such as a supervisor or manager, can provide valuable information about their overall work experience, skill set, and attitude.

Hopefully, you have found this helpful. If you’re having a difficult time finding HVAC professionals or simply don’t have the time, contact our HVAC Division, Rockstar HVAC, via email [email protected], give us a call at 1-833-937-3546, or visit https://rockstarhvac.com/.  

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