If you want a fulfilling, 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.
It's easy to see 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 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.
One of the most in-demand careers is working as an HVAC technician. Find out about what they do, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.
What Is an HVAC Technician?
A HVAC technician possesses the knowledge and skills to service heating and cooling systems. Many technicians are skilled with both residential and commercial equipment. And, most importantly, you’ll be knowledgeable about:
Some are HVAC-R technicians, and they are further trained to provide 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. Many younger people also pursue college degrees instead of 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 you'll be expected to occasionally:
- Work in uncomfortable settings, such as tight or messy spaces.
- Work in inclement weather since HVAC systems are usually outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime during 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 an excellent first career if you prefer to:
- Avoid large amounts of student debt.
- Stay active rather than remain inside an office.
- Have job security because the HVAC industry can't be outsourced.
- Become your own boss and own your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Demanding Job?
You can't fully escape stress when on the job. HVAC technicians handle complex equipment and will occasionally have to endure cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Appropriate experience and tools can help address any concerns. Additionally, paid training and a stable workload help both installers and technicians avoid some of the most common triggers of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Moving heavy equipment and performing repetitive motions are a couple of ways the HVAC industry can be physically demanding. Reaching difficult-to-access equipment can be tiring. HVAC projects are often 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 there isn't a job that's immune to a recession, HVAC is consistently avoiding the worst of economic downturns due to the essential nature of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation are always necessary, meaning HVAC professionals can often find work across the country.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As HVAC systems continue to advance, professional servicing will become even more important. New forms of heating and cooling systems consume less energy or produce it from renewable sources such as solar and wind. Greener HVAC equipment will continue to expand, 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 specialized training. Other, more specific (and higher paying) HVAC careers are dependent on additional education or certifications.
You can become certified by enrolling in classes at a community college or trade school. How much time is needed to become an HVAC technician varies from program to program, which generally lasts between six months to two years. An HVAC company will sometimes 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 elements of an HVAC career could be learned on your own, professional development means combining classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers don’t require things like advanced math skills. While you'll need to know some basic math, the bulk of an HVAC professionals’ skill set relies on critical thinking, used to identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that technicians familiar with tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be especially useful 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, signing up for classes at a technical or trade school generally costs approximately $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 annually. By comparison, the average student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
Your Day-to-Day Schedule as an HVAC Technician
The daily schedule may vary on the work site as well as your specific skill set. If you are a repair technician, 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 visit many different homes and businesses to perform repair, maintenance or installation work. Complex jobs may require more time than others, so the number of calls you can go on may vary.
As stated previously, every now and then the job will have to be done 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
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. Top earners make between $56,600 and $68,000. Having said that, 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 several other career opportunities. These include:
- HVAC manager, $72,515 average salary
- HVAC service manager, $71,176 average salary
Types of HVAC That Pay the Most
It's easy to specialize in something with a career 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 be eligible for salaries as high as six figures. 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 in high demand across the United States, 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:
- 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 Tokay
HVAC technicians remain in demand across the country and in . To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at today!