If you want a fulfilling, successful career, look no further than heating, ventilation and air conditioning. HVAC is an excellent place to start, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts additional industry growth of 13 percent by 2028.
It's easy to see why these careers are increasingly popular. One is homeowners taking advantage of government incentives to upgrade to more energy-efficient comfort systems. It's also important to consider R-22 Freon® coolant, which impacts older equipment. Finally, there’s the dynamic real estate market as well as a property shortage that’s spurred further growth in new construction homes.
A career that's increasingly in demand is an HVAC technician. Learn more about their skill set, 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 technicians will earn experience on equipment in both homes and commercial properties. And, most importantly, you’ll receive a comprehensive education about:
Some apprentices even become HVAC-R technicians, and they are further trained to provide refrigeration.
Is There a Shortage of HVAC Technicians?
Qualified HVAC technicians are in high demand because of an industry shortage of labor. This discrepancy is the result of several factors, such as more retirements 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 still be a fulfilling career. As a technician should be able to:
- Work in unpleasant settings, such as tight or dusty spaces.
- Work in hot or cold areas since HVAC equipment is generally found outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime during peak demand.
A stubborn falsehood about HVAC is that it’s a blue-collar career. It requires a specific skill set, specialized education and continuous recertification.
It’s a smart career if you would like to:
- Avoid a lot of student debt.
- Stay active rather than remain inside an office.
- Have job security since HVAC positions can't be outsourced.
- Be your own boss and work toward starting your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Difficult Job?
Any job can be stressful. HVAC technicians service complex equipment and will occasionally have to endure cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. The proper experience and tools can help address any concerns. Additionally, paid training and a consistent schedule help people in the HVAC industry fend off some of the most common reasons for work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Moving heavy equipment and performing repetitive motions are a couple of ways the HVAC industry can be physically demanding. Getting to specialized types of equipment can be tiring. HVAC projects are often physical, and you may benefit from a healthy diet and exercise regimen to stay in good shape.
Is HVAC a Recession-Proof Job?
While a recession can affect any industry, HVAC is especially reliable due to the sheer popularity of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation are always necessary, meaning HVAC professionals can often find work in more places than other industries.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As HVAC equipment becomes more complex, reliable expertise will become even more important. Newer models of heating and cooling systems consume less energy or generate it from renewable sources such as solar and wind. Environmentally sustainable HVAC equipment will continue to grow in popularity, as will the need for experienced installers and technicians.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
To learn everything you need to become an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED on top of technical training. Other, more specialty (and higher paying) HVAC careers are dependent on additional education or certifications.
Earn certifications by taking classes at a community college or trade school. How long it takes to become an HVAC technician may fluctuate depending on the specific program, which is typically six months to two years. An employer may also require NATE certification. Standing for North American Technician Excellence, this influential accreditation further develops your technical knowledge to help you better serve customers.
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 utilizes critical thinking, for identifying problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that technicians familiar with tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be vital as equipment grows in complexity and functionality.
Another benefit of working in HVAC is almost zero student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, signing up for classes at a technical or trade school usually costs about $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 annually. By comparison, the standard student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
Your Day-to-Day Schedule as an HVAC Technician
The daily schedule may vary based on the project and job site. If you are a repair technician, you may work early, late or be on call throughout the day. For technicians or installers working in construction, you will be more likely to keep to a set schedule for regular business hours.
As a technician, you’ll respond to different locations for repair, maintenance or installation work. Some jobs may need more time and resources than others, so the number of calls each day can fluctuate.
Like we mentioned earlier, you should be comfortable working outdoors in extreme weather as well as in dirty or cramped spaces. 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. Top earners make between $56,600 and $68,000. However, your salary may be dependent on the area's average wages and its cost of living. Some HVAC techs working in management in a high-paying state could earn a salary as high as six figures.
Aside from launching your own business, there are several other ways to advance your career. 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 who can manage projects and design custom HVAC systems could be eligible for salaries as high as six figures. 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 demand across the country, but even more so in Florida, California, Texas, New York and Illinois. According to hvacclasses.org, these states employ the most HVAC workers and are experiencing enormous growth in the construction industry. 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. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 928-251-4327 today!