If you are interested in starting a new, successful career, check out a career in 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 careers in this industry will grow by 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. It's also important to consider R-22 Freon® coolant, which impacts older equipment. Finally, there’s the ever-changing real estate market exacerbated by 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 Are HVAC Technicians?
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 systems including air filters and air purification systems
Some apprentices even become 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 an industry shortage of labor. This discrepancy is the result of several factors, like a higher rate of retirement and competition from other industries. There are also more young people seeking college degrees instead of a licensed trade like HVAC.
Is HVAC a Hard Career?
While HVAC often requires physical exertion, it can also be very rewarding. As a technician you’ll need to be able to:
- Work in uncomfortable settings, such as tight or messy spaces.
- Work in hot or cold areas since HVAC systems are usually outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime around peak demand.
One of the biggest misconceptions about HVAC is that it’s a blue-collar career. In truth, you'll need distinct skills, specialized education and periodic 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 knowing your position can’t be outsourced.
- Gain the experience you need to start your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Stressful Job?
Every job has sources of stress. 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. In addition, paid training and a steady supply of work help both installers and technicians avoid some of the most common sources of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Lifting heavy objects and performing repetitive motions are both common during HVAC work. Accessing and servicing large equipment can be strenuous. HVAC technicians should be physically fit, 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 especially reliable due to the widespread use 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 HVAC systems continue to advance, professional servicing will become even more important. The newest models of heating and cooling systems need less energy or generate it from renewable sources like solar and wind. Sustainable HVAC equipment will continue to grow in popularity, 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 along with technical training. Other, more specialized (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 much time is needed to become an HVAC technician relies on the program, which is most often around six months to two years. An employer may also require NATE certification. This refers to North American Technician Excellence, this industry-leading accreditation further develops your technical knowledge to ensure the highest quality services.
Even though basic concepts of an HVAC career could be learned on your own, getting the necessary education means combining 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, the bulk of an HVAC professionals’ skill set utilizes critical thinking, used to identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that technicians familiar with tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be especially useful as equipment becomes capable of even more.
Another advantage of a career in HVAC is little to no student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, signing up for classes at a technical or trade school generally costs approximately $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 annually. In comparison, the standard student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
A Day in the Life of an HVAC Technician
A typical workday may vary depending on where you work. 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, your 'office' is actually all the properties you visit to complete repair, maintenance or installation work. Some jobs may need more time and resources than others, so the number of calls each day can fluctuate.
As we mentioned before, you should expect the occasional job in extreme weather as well as in dirty or cramped spaces. If you work in a customer-facing role, strong customer service skills are always welcome.
Can You Make a Good Living in HVAC? Average Salary for HVAC Technicians and Other HVAC Careers
Since the HVAC industry is growing quickly, 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. However, total compensation can depend on where you live 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.
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
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 experience designing custom equipment or leading projects could receive six-figure salaries. 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 needed in cities throughout the country, but particularly 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 should spur continued growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with Patterson & Stirling Inc
HVAC technicians remain in demand across the country and in Erie/[targetlocation]. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 814-308-0416 today!