If you’re considering 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.
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 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 Is an HVAC Technician?
A HVAC technician is someone who repairs, installs and maintains heating and cooling systems. Most technicians will earn experience on equipment in both homes and commercial properties. And, most importantly, 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?
There is a high demand for qualified HVAC technicians because of an industry shortage of labor. This shortage is because of several things, like a higher rate of retirement and competition from other industries. It's also more likely for young people to start pursuing college degrees rather than a licensed trade like HVAC.
Is HVAC a Hard Career?
While HVAC often requires physical exertion, it can still be a fulfilling career. As a technician should be able to:
- Work in awkward settings, like tight or messy spaces.
- Work in inclement weather since equipment is often outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime around 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 smart career if you would like to:
- Minimize student debt.
- Avoid working at a desk or in 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 Difficult Job?
Every job has sources of stress. HVAC technicians service complex equipment and may be subject to cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Appropriate experience and tools can help address any concerns. In addition, paid training and a consistent schedule help both installers and technicians reduce some of the most common triggers of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Carrying heavy items and performing repetitive motions are a couple of ways the HVAC industry can be physically demanding. Accessing and servicing large equipment can be strenuous. 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 no job is guaranteed to survive a recession, HVAC is especially reliable due to the essential nature of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation will always be required, 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, technicians and installers will become even more important. The newest models of heating and cooling systems consume less energy or obtain it from renewable sources like solar and wind. Greener HVAC equipment will keep growing more popular, as will the need for experienced installers and technicians.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
To learn everything you need 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 require additional education or certifications.
You can secure the needed certifications by taking classes at a community college or trade school. How much time is needed to become an HVAC technician may fluctuate depending on the specific program, which generally lasts between six months to two years. An employer may also require NATE certification. Standing for North American Technician Excellence, this industry-leading accreditation builds on your existing industry knowledge to help you better serve customers.
While some aspects of the job can 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 you'll need to know some basic math, the majority of an HVAC professionals’ skill set utilizes critical thinking, in order to properly identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that HVAC techncians who are familiar with tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be vital as equipment becomes capable of even more.
Another key perk of working in HVAC is little to no student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, enrolling in a technical or trade school usually costs about $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 per year. By comparison, the average student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
A Daily Schedule as an HVAC Technician
The daily schedule may vary depending on where you work. If you are a repair technician, you may work early, late or be on call throughout the day. For technicians or installers working in 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. Complex jobs may need more time and resources than others, so the number of calls you can go on may vary.
Like we mentioned earlier, you should expect the occasional job in severe weather as well as in difficult-to-reach places. 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 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. Having said that, 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 earn a salary as high as six figures.
Aside from launching your own business, there are several other ways to advance your career. These include:
- HVAC manager, $72,515 average salary
- HVAC service manager, $71,176 average salary
Types of HVAC with the Highest Salaries
You can specialize for new opportunities within the HVAC industry, and continuing education and certification opportunities help unlock paths to specialist careers with 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 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 needed in cities throughout the country, but especially so in states like Florida, California, Texas, New York and Illinois. According to hvacclasses.org, these states need the most HVAC work 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 should spur continued growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with Stanford Heating & Cooling
HVAC technicians remain in demand across the country and in Bloomfield/[targetlocation]. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 812-825-8695 today!