If you want a fulfilling, successful career, consider one in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. HVAC careers are continuing to grow in popularity, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts additional industry growth of 13 percent by 2028.
There are several reasons why these careers are increasingly popular. One involves homeowners using government tax credits to upgrade to more energy-efficient comfort systems. Then there’s the discontinuation of R-22 Freon® refrigerants, which impacts older equipment. 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 Are HVAC Technicians?
A HVAC technician possesses the knowledge and skills to service heating and cooling systems. Most work with both homeowners and business owners. And, most importantly, you’ll learn a great deal 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?
There is a high demand for qualified HVAC technicians because of an industry shortage of labor. There are several reasons for this discrepancy, such as more retirements and competition from other industries. Many younger people also pursue 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 you'll be expected to occasionally:
- Work in awkward settings, including tight or dirty spaces.
- Work in high or low temperatures since equipment is often outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime throughout peak demand.
One of the biggest misconceptions about HVAC is that it’s a blue-collar career. It requires a specific skill set, specialized education and ongoing certification.
It’s an excellent first career if you prefer 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.
- Gain the experience you need to start your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Difficult Job?
You can't fully escape stress when on the job. HVAC technicians handle 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 steady supply of work help both installers and technicians fend off some of the most common triggers of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Carrying heavy items and performing repetitive motions are two common reasons HVAC can be physically demanding. Getting to specialized types of equipment can be tiring. 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 sheer popularity 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 equipment becomes more complex, technicians and installers will become even more important. Newer models of heating and cooling systems use less energy or obtain it from renewable sources like 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 along with professional training. Other, more specialized (and higher paying) HVAC careers typically need additional education or certifications.
You can become certified 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 HVAC company will sometimes also require NATE certification. Standing for North American Technician Excellence, this influential 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 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, most of the HVAC professionals’ skill set utilizes critical thinking, for identifying 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 key perk of working in HVAC is little 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 average 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 projects more relevant to new construction, you will be more likely to keep to a set schedule during normal business hours.
As a technician, you’ll respond to different locations for repair, maintenance or installation work. Complex jobs might take longer than others, so the number of calls on a given day could vary considerably.
Like we mentioned earlier, you should expect the occasional job in extreme weather as well as in difficult-to-reach places. For roles assisting customers, 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. 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 may make as much as six figures.
In addition to owning 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 That Pay the Most
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 experience designing custom equipment or leading projects could receive six-figure salaries. Larger salaries are also common when you work 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 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 Childress Heating & AC
HVAC technicians are needed everywhere, including in . To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at [phone] today!