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 the continued growth of the industry by 13 percent by 2028.

There are several reasons why these careers are continuing to grow. One involves homeowners using government tax credits 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 ever-changing real estate market exacerbated by a property shortage that’s driven an increase 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 possesses the knowledge and skills to service heating and cooling systems. Most technicians will earn experience on equipment in both homes and commercial properties. And, most important, you’ll receive a comprehensive education about:

Some apprentices even become HVAC-R technicians, meaning they also have experience with refrigeration.

Is There a Shortage of HVAC Technicians?

There is a high demand for qualified HVAC technicians because of the current shortage in the industry. There are several reasons for this discrepancy, including an aging workforce and competition from other industries. There are also more young people seeking college degrees rather than a licensed trade like HVAC.

Is HVAC a Hard Career?

While HVAC can be physically demanding, it can also be very rewarding. As a technician should be able to:

  • Work in uncomfortable settings, like tight or dusty spaces.
  • Work in inclement weather since HVAC systems are usually outdoors.
  • Work evenings, weekends and overtime around peak demand.

A common misconception about learning 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 because the HVAC industry can't be outsourced.
  • Be your own boss and work toward starting 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 are helpful when resolving these concerns. Additionally, 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?

Moving heavy equipment and performing repetitive motions are both common during HVAC work. Reaching difficult-to-access equipment can be exhausting. HVAC work can be very 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 especially reliable due to the widespread use of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation are always necessary, which means apprentices and master technicians alike can often find work in many different cities.

Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?

As HVAC systems continue to advance, reliable expertise will become even more important. Newer models of heating and cooling systems use less energy or obtain it from renewable sources such as solar and wind. Greener HVAC equipment will keep growing more popular, as will the need for certified HVAC technicians.

How to Become an HVAC Technician

To become an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED along with professional training. Other, more specific (and higher paying) HVAC careers typically need additional education or certifications.

Earn certifications by signing up for classes at a community college or trade school. The time it takes to become an HVAC technician relies on the program, which generally lasts between 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 maximize your capabilities.

While some elements 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 aren't reliant on things like advanced math. While a little math is needed, the bulk of an HVAC professionals’ skill set relies on critical thinking, in order to properly identify 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 advantage of a career in HVAC is little to no student debt.

According to Midwest Technical Institute, attending a technical or trade school generally costs approximately $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

The daily schedule may vary on the work site as well as your specific skill set. If you work in repairs, 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 during normal 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 on a given day could vary considerably.

Like we mentioned earlier, you should be comfortable working outdoors 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 useful.

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, total compensation can depend on where you live and its cost of living. Experienced HVAC technicians transitioning to a position in management in a high-paying state may make as much 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 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 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:

  1. Utah, 31.1%
  2. Colorado, 29.7%
  3. Nevada, 27.9%
  4. Arizona, 21.4%
  5. Iowa, Oregon and Montana, 18.5%
  6. Arkansas, 16.3%
  7. Florida, 16.2%
  8. South Carolina, 16%
  9. Texas, 15.9%
  10. Idaho, 15.7%
  11. Washington, 15.6%
  12. North Carolina, 15.5%
  13. Tennessee, 15.2%
  14. Wyoming, 14.3%
  15. Nebraska, 13.9%
  16. Indiana, 13.8%
  17. North Dakota, 13.8%

Here’s where the highest number of new positions during that time frame are expected to be:

  1. Florida, 5,420
  2. Texas, 5,530
  3. California, 4,100
  4. North Carolina, 2,510
  5. New York, 2,290
  6. Colorado, 2,000
  7. Ohio, 1,550
  8. Pennsylvania, 1,510
  9. Virginia, 1,500
  10. Tennessee, 1,360
  11. Washington, 1,290
  12. Georgia, 1,270
  13. New Jersey, 1,170
  14. Utah, 1,170
  15. South Carolina, 1,1060
  16. Indiana, 940
  17. Maryland, 820
  18. Missouri and Arizona, 810
  19. Michigan, 780

Weather and a healthy economy will further encourage growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.

Grow Your HVAC Career with Patterson & Stirling

HVAC technicians remain in demand across the country and in Erie. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 814-308-0416 today!