If you’re considering a new, successful career, look no further than heating, ventilation and air conditioning. HVAC is an excellent place to start, 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 growing so quickly. One is homeowners taking advantage of government incentives to upgrade to more energy-efficient comfort systems. It's also important to consider R-22 Freon® coolant, which impacts any system still using it. Finally, there’s the red-hot real estate market and a property shortage that’s driven an increase in new construction homes.
A career that's increasingly in demand is an HVAC technician. Find out about what they do, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.
What Does It Mean to Be 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 importantly, you’ll be knowledgeable about:
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 shrinking labor force within the industry. There are several reasons for this discrepancy, such as more retirements and competition from other industries. There are also more young people seeking college degrees as opposed to a licensed trade like HVAC.
Is HVAC a Hard Career?
While HVAC often has you on your feet, it can still be quite gratifying. As a technician should be able to:
- Work in uncomfortable settings, like tight or dusty spaces.
- Work in hot or cold areas since HVAC equipment is generally found outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime around peak demand.
A stubborn falsehood about HVAC is that it’s a blue-collar career. In reality, you need an extensive skill set, specialized education and ongoing certification.
It’s a smart career if you would like to:
- Avoid large amounts of student debt.
- Stay active rather than remain inside an office.
- Have job security since HVAC positions can't be outsourced.
- Become your own boss and own your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Stressful Job?
Any job can be stressful. HVAC technicians handle complex equipment and will occasionally have to endure cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Sufficient experience and tools are helpful when resolving these concerns. What’s more, paid training and a stable workload help HVAC professionals reduce some of the most common reasons for work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Lifting heavy objects and performing repetitive motions are both common during HVAC work. Getting to specialized types of equipment can be tiring. 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 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 required, meaning HVAC professionals can often find work in many different cities.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As HVAC systems continue to advance, technicians and installers will become even more important. New forms of heating and cooling systems need 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 start a career as an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED along with industry training. Other, more specialized (and higher paying) HVAC careers typically need 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 is typically six months to two years. An employer may also require NATE certification. An acronym for North American Technician Excellence, this key accreditation builds on your existing industry knowledge to ensure the highest quality services.
While some aspects of the job can be learned on your own, a proper education means a combination of classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers don’t require things like advanced math skills. While a little math is needed, the bulk of an HVAC professionals’ skill set lies in critical thinking, used to identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that having experience with things like tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be especially useful as equipment becomes capable of even more.
Another benefit of working 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.
Your Day-to-Day Schedule as an HVAC Technician
A typical workday may vary depending on where you work. If you work in repairs, you may work early, late or be on call throughout the day. If you work in construction/home building or management, you may have more of a set schedule for regular business hours.
As a technician, you’ll respond to different locations for repair, maintenance or installation work. Certain jobs may require more time than others, so the number of calls on a given day could vary considerably.
As stated previously, every now and then the job will have to be done 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 a positive.
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. Professionals with specialized skills could make between $56,600 and $68,000. Having said that, salaries may fluctuate based on your location 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 several other career opportunities. These include:
- HVAC manager, $72,515 average salary
- HVAC service manager, $71,176 average salary
Types of HVAC with the Highest Salaries
There is a lot of room for specialization in the HVAC industry, and continuing education and certification opportunities open doors for niche positions with great salaries. For example, master engineers who can manage projects and design custom HVAC systems could earn six figures annually. 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 should spur continued growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with Rapids Sheet Metal Works Inc
HVAC technicians remain in demand across the country and in Wisconsin Rapids. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 715-301-0256 today!