If you’re considering a new, successful career, look no further than heating, ventilation and air conditioning. HVAC is one of the fastest-growing careers you can find, 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 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 affects old models. Finally, there’s the ever-changing real estate market exacerbated by a property shortage that’s increased the availability of new construction homes.
You can join this rewarding industry by becoming an HVAC technician. Find out about what they do, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.
What Is an HVAC Technician?
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 importantly, you’ll receive a comprehensive education about:
- Air conditioners
- Mini-splits and heat pumps
- Thermostats and home zoning
- Indoor air quality products such as air filters and air purification systems
A few become HVAC-R technicians, meaning they also have experience 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 still be quite gratifying. As a technician you’ll need to be able to:
- Work in awkward settings, including tight or dirty spaces.
- Work in inclement weather 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. In truth, you'll need distinct skills, specialized education and ongoing certification.
It’s a great career choice if you want to:
- Minimize student debt.
- Stay active rather than remain inside an office.
- Have job security because the HVAC industry can't be outsourced.
- Be your own boss and work toward starting your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Stressful Job?
Every job has sources of stress. HVAC technicians service complex equipment and may be subject to cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Sufficient experience and tools are helpful when resolving these concerns. Additionally, paid training and a consistent schedule help HVAC professionals fend off some of the most common reasons for work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Carrying heavy objects and performing repetitive motions are both common during HVAC work. Getting to specialized types of 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.
Are HVAC Careers at Risk Because of a Recession?
While there isn't a job that's immune to a recession, HVAC is particularly resilient 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 many different cities.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As climate control technology continues to evolve, reliable expertise will become even more important. New forms of heating and cooling systems use less energy or obtain it from renewable sources including solar and wind. Greener HVAC equipment will continue to expand, as will the need for competent HVAC professionals.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
To become an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED on top of professional training. Other, more specialty (and higher paying) HVAC careers require additional education or certifications.
Earn certifications by signing up for classes at a community college or trade school. How much time is needed to become an HVAC technician varies from program to program, which is typically six months to two years. An HVAC company will sometimes also require NATE certification. This refers to North American Technician Excellence, this key accreditation expands your technical knowledge to ensure the highest quality services.
Even though basic concepts of an HVAC career could be learned on your own, a proper education means a combination of classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers don't involve complex math. While you'll need to know some basic math, most of the HVAC professionals’ skill set lies in critical thinking, used to identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that technicians familiar with tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be in big demand as equipment grows in complexity and functionality.
Another key perk of working in HVAC is almost zero student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, signing up for classes at a technical or trade school typically costs around $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 annually. By comparison, the average student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
A Day in the Life of an HVAC Technician
The daily schedule may vary based on the project and job site. If you primarily offer repair services, 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 visit many different homes and businesses to perform repair, maintenance or installation work. Some jobs may require more time than others, so the number of calls on a given day could vary considerably.
As stated previously, you should expect the occasional job in extreme weather as well as in dirty or cramped spaces. For jobs that work with customers or clients, strong customer service skills are always useful.
Is a Career in HVAC Profitable? Average Salary for HVAC Technicians and Other HVAC Careers
Because HVAC is a fast-growing industry, your salary should reflect that. 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, your salary may be dependent on the area's average wages and its cost of living. HVAC techs with enough experience to work in management in a high-paying state could make upward of 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 That Pay More
There is a lot of room for specialization 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 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 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 is anticipated to fuel growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with Kirkfield Heating & Air Conditioning
HVAC technicians can find work just about anywhere, including in Winnipeg/[targetlocation]. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 204-272-8128 today!