If you’re considering 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.
There are several reasons why these careers are continuing to grow. One is federal incentives to upgrade to more energy-efficient comfort systems. There's also the transition away from R-22 Freon®, which impacts older equipment. Finally, there’s the red-hot real estate market and 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 Is an HVAC Technician?
A HVAC technician should be able to repair, install and maintain heating and cooling systems. Most work with both homeowners and business owners. And, most importantly, you’ll be knowledgeable about:
- Air conditioners
- Mini-splits and heat pumps
- Thermostats and home zoning
- Indoor air quality equipment like air filters and air purification systems
Some are HVAC-R technicians, and they are further trained to provide refrigeration.
Is There a Shortage of HVAC Technicians?
Experienced HVAC technicians are increasingly sought after because of an industry shortage of labor. This discrepancy is the result of several factors, including an aging workforce and competition from other industries. There are also more young people seeking 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 you’ll need to be able to:
- Work in awkward settings, like tight or messy 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 continuous recertification.
It’s an excellent first career if you prefer to:
- Avoid large amounts of student debt.
- Avoid working at a desk or in an office.
- Have job security because the HVAC industry can't be outsourced.
- Become your own boss and own your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Demanding Job?
Any job can be stressful. HVAC technicians handle complex equipment and must sometimes deal with cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Appropriate 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?
Moving heavy equipment and performing repetitive motions are two common reasons HVAC can be physically demanding. Accessing and servicing large equipment can be exhausting. 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 there isn't a job that's immune to a recession, HVAC is especially reliable due to the widespread use of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation will always be needed, meaning HVAC professionals can often find work in more places than other industries.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As HVAC systems continue to advance, professional servicing will become even more important. Newer models of heating and cooling systems use less energy or produce it from renewable sources like 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 start a career as an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED on top of technical 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. The time it takes to become an HVAC technician may fluctuate depending on the specific program, which generally lasts between six months to two years. An HVAC company will sometimes also require NATE certification. An acronym for North American Technician Excellence, this industry-leading accreditation builds on your existing industry knowledge to maximize your capabilities.
While some aspects of the job can be learned on your own, getting the necessary education means a combination of classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers don’t require things like advanced math skills. While a little math is needed, the bulk of an HVAC professionals’ skill set lies in critical thinking, for identifying problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that having experience with things like tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be vital as equipment becomes capable of even more.
Another advantage of a career in HVAC is next to no 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 every year. 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 on the work site as well as your specific skill set. If you are a repair technician, you may work early, late or be on call throughout the day. For projects more relevant to new construction, you may have more of 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 dirty or cramped spaces. If you work in a customer-facing role, 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. Professionals with specialized skills could make between $56,600 and $68,000. Then again, salaries may fluctuate based on your location and its cost of living. HVAC techs with enough experience to work in management in a high-paying state could earn a salary as high as six figures.
In addition to owning your own business, there are several other career opportunities. 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 offer access to even higher salaries. For example, master engineers with project management or custom system design experience could be eligible for salaries as high as six figures. Larger salaries are also more common when working 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 greatest number of HVAC professionals 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 H & H Service Company
HVAC technicians remain in demand across the country and in Mechanicsburg/[targetlocation]. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 717-220-4502 today!