If you want a fulfilling, 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 careers in this industry will grow by 13 percent by 2028.
It's easy to see why these careers are increasingly popular. One is federal incentives 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 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 Is an HVAC Technician?
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 receive a comprehensive education 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?
Experienced HVAC technicians are increasingly sought after because of an industry shortage of labor. There are several reasons for this discrepancy, such as more retirements and competition from other industries. It's also more likely for young people to start pursuing college degrees instead of 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, including tight or messy spaces.
- Work in hot or cold areas since HVAC systems are usually outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime during 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 a great career choice if you want to:
- Avoid a lot of student debt.
- Avoid working at a desk or in 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?
Any job can be stressful. HVAC technicians work on complex equipment and may be subject to cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Sufficient experience and tools can help mitigate some of these concerns. Additionally, paid training and a stable workload help both installers and technicians reduce some of the most common triggers of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Lifting heavy items and performing repetitive motions are a couple of ways the HVAC industry can be physically demanding. Getting to specialized types of equipment can be strenuous. HVAC work can be very physical, and you may benefit from a healthy diet and exercise regimen to remain as healthy as possible.
Are HVAC Careers at Risk Because of a Recession?
While a recession can affect any industry, 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 more places than other industries.
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 use less energy or produce it from renewable sources including solar and wind. Greener 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 in addition to industry 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 varies from program to program, which is typically six months to two years. An HVAC company will sometimes also require NATE certification. An acronym for North American Technician Excellence, this key accreditation expands your technical knowledge to maximize your capabilities.
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 aren't reliant on things like advanced math. While a little math is needed, most of the HVAC professionals’ skill set utilizes critical thinking, used to identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that HVAC techncians who are 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 next to no student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, enrolling in a technical or trade school generally costs approximately $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 every year. In comparison, the standard student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
A Day in the Life of an HVAC Technician
Your work schedule may vary depending on where you work. 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 are more likely to have a set schedule for regular business hours.
As a technician, your 'office' is actually all the properties you visit to complete repair, maintenance or installation work. Complex 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, every now and then the job will have to be done 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 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 should reflect that. 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, total compensation can depend on where you live 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.
Along with starting 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
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 who can manage projects and design custom HVAC systems 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 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 greatest number of HVAC professionals and are experiencing major construction growth. 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 Farnell Heating & Air Conditioning Inc
HVAC technicians can find work just about anywhere, including in Mobile/[targetlocation]. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 251-471-2674 today!