If you are interested in starting a new, successful career, consider one in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. HVAC is an excellent place to start, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts careers in this industry will grow by 13 percent by 2028.
It's easy to see why these careers are growing so quickly. One is homeowners taking advantage of government incentives to upgrade to more energy-efficient comfort systems. Then there’s the discontinuation of R-22 Freon® refrigerants, which impacts older equipment. Finally, there’s the ever-changing real estate market exacerbated by a property shortage that’s driven an increase in new construction homes.
One of the most in-demand careers is working as an HVAC technician. Find out about what they do, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.
What Does It Mean to Be an HVAC Technician?
A HVAC technician is someone who repairs, installs and maintains heating and cooling systems. Most work with both homeowners and business owners. And, most important, you’ll be knowledgeable about:
- Air conditioners
- Mini-splits and heat pumps
- Thermostats and home zoning
- Indoor air quality products such as air filters and air purification systems
Some are HVAC-R technicians, which means they also work with refrigeration.
Is There a Shortage of HVAC Technicians?
Qualified HVAC technicians are in high demand because of shrinking labor force within the industry. This shortage is because of several things, including an aging workforce and competition from other industries. Many younger people also pursue college degrees as opposed to a licensed trade like HVAC.
Is HVAC a Hard Career?
While HVAC often has you on your feet, it can also be very rewarding. As a technician should be able to:
- Work in uncomfortable settings, like tight or dusty spaces.
- Work in hot or cold areas since HVAC systems are usually outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime throughout peak demand.
A stubborn falsehood about HVAC is that it’s a blue-collar career. In reality, you need an extensive skill set, specialized education and continuous recertification.
It’s a smart career if you would like to:
- Avoid large amounts of student debt.
- Avoid working at a desk or in an office.
- Have job security knowing your position can’t be outsourced.
- Gain the experience you need to start your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Difficult Job?
You can't fully escape stress when on the job. HVAC technicians work on complex equipment and must sometimes deal with cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. The proper experience and tools can help address any concerns. Additionally, paid training and a stable workload help both installers and technicians avoid some of the most common reasons for work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Lifting heavy objects and performing repetitive motions are two common reasons HVAC can be physically demanding. Getting to specialized types of equipment can be tiring. HVAC work can be very physical, and you may benefit from a healthy diet and exercise regimen to remain as healthy as possible.
Is HVAC a Recession-Proof Job?
While a recession can affect any industry, HVAC is consistently avoiding the worst of economic downturns due to the sheer popularity of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation will always be needed, , which means apprentices and master technicians alike can often find work across the country.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As climate control technology continues to evolve, technicians and installers will become even more important. The newest models of heating and cooling systems use less energy or generate it from renewable sources including solar and wind. Greener HVAC equipment will continue to grow in popularity, as will the need for experienced installers and technicians.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
To start a career as an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED on top of industry training. Other, more specific (and higher paying) HVAC careers require additional education or certifications.
Earn certifications by taking classes at a community college or trade school. How much time is needed to become an HVAC technician may fluctuate depending on the specific program, which is typically six months to two years. Your employer might also require NATE certification. Standing for North American Technician Excellence, this industry-leading accreditation further develops your technical knowledge to maximize your capabilities.
While some aspects of the job can be learned on your own, professional development means blending classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers don't involve complex math. While a little math is needed, the majority of an HVAC professionals’ skill set relies on critical thinking, used to identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that HVAC techncians who are familiar with tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be especially useful as equipment grows in complexity and functionality.
Another advantage of a career in HVAC is next to no student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, attending a technical or trade school generally costs approximately $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 per year. By comparison, the standard student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
A Day in the Life of an HVAC Technician
The daily schedule may vary on the work site as well as your specific skill set. If you primarily offer repair services, you may work early, late or be on call throughout the day. For technicians or installers working in construction, you are more likely to have a set schedule during normal business hours.
As a technician, you'll visit many different homes and businesses to perform repair, maintenance or installation work. Certain jobs may need more time and resources than others, so the number of calls each day can fluctuate.
As stated previously, every now and then the job will have to be done in severe weather as well as in difficult-to-reach places. For roles assisting customers, strong customer service skills are always welcome.
Is a Career in HVAC Profitable? Average Salary for HVAC Technicians and Other HVAC Careers
With the constant growth in HVAC careers, your salary will reflect it. The national average salary for an HVAC technician is $49,242, according to ZipRecruiter. Higher earners usually make around $56,600 and $68,000. Having said that, salaries may fluctuate based on your location and its cost of living. Experienced HVAC technicians transitioning to a position in management in a high-paying state may make as much as six figures.
Aside from launching your own business, there are other paths for career advancement. These include:
- HVAC manager, $72,515 average salary
- HVAC service manager, $71,176 average salary
Types of HVAC with the Highest Salaries
It's easy to specialize in something with a career in the HVAC industry, and continuing education and certification opportunities open doors for niche positions with great salaries. For example, master engineers with project management or custom system design experience could earn six figures annually. Larger salaries are also more likely if you have experience with advanced equipment like commercial HVAC systems, geothermal heat pumps or radiant in-floor heating.
What States Need HVAC Workers the Most
HVAC technicians are in high demand across the United States, but especially so in states like Florida, California, Texas, New York and Illinois. According to hvacclasses.org, these states need the most HVAC work and are experiencing major construction growth. Here’s why:
- Florida: Hurricanes, education and healthcare facilities.
- California: Wildfires, transportation, energy and utility projects.
- Texas: Hurricanes, energy, utility and other infrastructure upgrades.
- New York: Residential and infrastructure updates.
- Illinois: Companies relocating to the Chicago area.
Where HVAC Technicians Will Be in High Demand in the Future
Projections Central, who develops long-term occupational projections, expects these states to have the greatest demand for technicians by 2028:
- Utah, 31.1%
- Colorado, 29.7%
- Nevada, 27.9%
- Arizona, 21.4%
- Iowa, Oregon and Montana, 18.5%
- Arkansas, 16.3%
- Florida, 16.2%
- South Carolina, 16%
- Texas, 15.9%
- Idaho, 15.7%
- Washington, 15.6%
- North Carolina, 15.5%
- Tennessee, 15.2%
- Wyoming, 14.3%
- Nebraska, 13.9%
- Indiana, 13.8%
- North Dakota, 13.8%
Here’s where the highest number of new positions during that time frame are expected to be:
- Florida, 5,420
- Texas, 5,530
- California, 4,100
- North Carolina, 2,510
- New York, 2,290
- Colorado, 2,000
- Ohio, 1,550
- Pennsylvania, 1,510
- Virginia, 1,500
- Tennessee, 1,360
- Washington, 1,290
- Georgia, 1,270
- New Jersey, 1,170
- Utah, 1,170
- South Carolina, 1,1060
- Indiana, 940
- Maryland, 820
- Missouri and Arizona, 810
- Michigan, 780
Weather and a healthy economy should spur continued growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with Connolly Electric & Mechanical
HVAC technicians can find work just about anywhere, including in Cottonwood & Prescott/[targetlocation]. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 928-251-4327 today!