If you’re considering a new, successful career, check out a career in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. HVAC careers are continuing to grow in popularity, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts additional industry growth of 13 percent by 2028.
People interested in HVAC quickly discover why these careers are continuing to grow. One involves homeowners using government tax credits to upgrade to more energy-efficient comfort systems. Then there’s the discontinuation of R-22 Freon® refrigerants, which impacts any system still using it. Finally, there’s the dynamic real estate market as well as a property shortage that’s driven an increase in new construction homes.
You can join this rewarding industry by becoming an HVAC technician. Learn more about their skill set, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.
What Are HVAC Technicians?
A HVAC technician is someone who repairs, installs and maintains heating and cooling systems. Many technicians are skilled with both residential and commercial equipment. And, most important, you’ll be knowledgeable about:
Some are HVAC-R technicians, which means they also work with refrigeration.
Is There a Shortage of HVAC Technicians?
Experienced HVAC technicians are increasingly sought after because of an industry shortage of labor. There are several reasons for this discrepancy, including an aging workforce and competition from other industries. It's also more likely for young people to start pursuing college degrees as opposed to a licensed trade like HVAC.
Is HVAC a Hard Career?
While HVAC can be physically demanding, it can still be quite gratifying. As a technician you'll be expected to occasionally:
- Work in unpleasant settings, such as tight or dirty spaces.
- Work in high or low temperatures since equipment is often outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime throughout peak demand.
One of the biggest misconceptions about HVAC is that it’s a blue-collar career. In reality, you need an extensive skill set, specialized education and ongoing certification.
It’s an excellent first career if you prefer to:
- Avoid a lot of student debt.
- Stay active rather than remain inside an office.
- Have job security knowing your position can’t be outsourced.
- Become your own boss and own your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Difficult Job?
Every job has sources of stress. HVAC technicians service complex equipment and will occasionally have to endure cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Appropriate experience and tools can help address any concerns. In addition, paid training and a consistent schedule help people in the HVAC industry avoid some of the most common reasons for work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Lifting heavy equipment and performing repetitive motions are two common reasons HVAC can be physically demanding. Reaching difficult-to-access equipment can be exhausting. HVAC technicians should be physically fit, and you may benefit from a healthy diet and exercise regimen to stay in good shape.
Would a Recession Impact HVAC Jobs?
While no job is guaranteed to survive a recession, HVAC is consistently avoiding the worst of economic downturns due to the sheer popularity of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation are always necessary, which means professionals in HVAC can often find work across the country.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As climate control technology continues to evolve, reliable expertise will become even more important. The newest models of heating and cooling systems consume less energy or produce it from renewable sources including solar and wind. Environmentally sustainable HVAC equipment will continue to expand, as will the need for experienced installers and technicians.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
To become an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED in addition to specialized training. Other, more specialized (and higher paying) HVAC careers require additional education or certifications.
You can secure the needed certifications by signing up for 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. Your employer might also require NATE certification. Standing for North American Technician Excellence, this key accreditation builds on your existing industry knowledge to help you better serve customers.
Even though basic concepts of an HVAC career could be learned on your own, a proper education means blending classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers don’t require things like advanced math skills. While some math is involved, most of the HVAC professionals’ skill set utilizes critical thinking, in order to properly identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that having experience with things like tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be especially useful as equipment grows in complexity and functionality.
Another benefit of working in HVAC is little to no student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, enrolling in a technical or trade school usually costs about $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 every year. In comparison, the average student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
A Day in the Life of an HVAC Technician
A typical workday may vary based on the project and job site. If you work in repairs, 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. Certain jobs may need more time and resources than others, so the number of calls each day can fluctuate.
Like we mentioned earlier, you should expect the occasional job in inclement weather as well as in difficult-to-reach places. For roles assisting customers, strong customer service skills are always useful.
Can You Make a Good Living in HVAC? 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 could earn a salary as high 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 That Pay More
You can specialize for new opportunities within 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 needed in cities throughout the country, but even more so in Florida, California, Texas, New York and Illinois. According to hvacclasses.org, these states need the most HVAC work 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 will further encourage growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with Herman Allen Plumbing, Heating & Cooling
HVAC technicians are needed everywhere, including in Greater Richmond. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 804-302-6657 today!