If you are interested in starting 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 the continued growth of the industry by 13 percent by 2028.
It's easy to see why these careers are continuing to grow. One is homeowners taking advantage of government incentives to upgrade to more energy-efficient comfort systems. There's also the transition away from R-22 Freon®, which affects old models. 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 the ins and outs of the HVAC technician's daily schedule, 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 should be able to repair, install and maintain heating and cooling systems. Most work with both homeowners and business owners. And, most importantly, you’ll learn a great deal about:
A few 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. This shortage is because of several things, including an aging workforce 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 also be very rewarding. As a technician you'll be expected to occasionally:
- Work in uncomfortable settings, like tight or dirty spaces.
- Work in hot or cold areas since equipment is often outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime during 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 periodic recertification.
It’s an excellent first career if you prefer to:
- Avoid a lot of student debt.
- Work outdoors instead of in 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 Stressful Job?
Every job has sources of stress. HVAC technicians service complex equipment and will occasionally have to endure cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Sufficient experience and tools can help address any concerns. Additionally, paid training and a steady supply of work help people in the HVAC industry fend off some of the most common sources of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Moving heavy equipment and performing repetitive motions are both common during HVAC work. Reaching difficult-to-access equipment can be strenuous. HVAC technicians should be physically fit, 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 there isn't a job that's immune to a recession, HVAC is especially reliable due to the widespread use of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation are always necessary, which means professionals in HVAC can often find work across the country.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As HVAC systems continue to advance, 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 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 industry training. Other, more specialty (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 long it takes 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. An acronym for North American Technician Excellence, this key accreditation further develops your technical knowledge to maximize your capabilities.
While some aspects of the job can be learned on your own, getting the necessary education means combining classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers don’t require things like advanced math skills. While some math is involved, the bulk of an HVAC professionals’ skill set utilizes 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 more technologically advanced.
Another key perk of working in HVAC is almost zero student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, attending a technical or trade school typically costs around $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 per year. With a more conventional education, the standard student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
A Daily Schedule as an HVAC Technician
The daily schedule may vary on the work site as well as your specific skill set. 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 are more likely to have 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. Certain jobs might take longer than others, so the number of calls you can go on may vary.
Like we mentioned earlier, you should be comfortable working outdoors in extreme weather as well as in difficult-to-reach places. 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
With the constant growth in HVAC careers, your salary will reflect it. 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 may make as much as six figures.
Along with starting 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 More
It's easy to specialize in something with a career in the HVAC industry, and continuing education and certification opportunities offer access to even higher salaries. For example, master engineers with project management or custom system design experience could earn six figures annually. 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 especially so in states like Florida, California, Texas, New York and Illinois. According to hvacclasses.org, these states employ the most HVAC workers 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 Tokay
HVAC technicians can find work just about anywhere, including in Lodi. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 209-257-3156 today!