If you’re considering a new, successful career, consider one 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 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 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.
One of the most in-demand careers is working as an HVAC technician. Learn more about their skill set, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.
What Are HVAC Technicians?
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 important, you’ll receive a comprehensive education about:
- Air conditioners
- Mini-splits and heat pumps
- Thermostats and home zoning
- Indoor air quality products such as 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?
Experienced HVAC technicians are increasingly sought after because of the current shortage in the industry. 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 requires physical exertion, it can still be quite gratifying. As a technician should be able to:
- Work in awkward settings, including tight or dusty spaces.
- Work in inclement weather 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. In reality, you need an extensive skill set, 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.
- 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 service complex equipment and will occasionally have to endure cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Appropriate experience and tools can help address any concerns. In addition, paid training and a consistent schedule help people in the HVAC industry fend off some of the most common sources of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Lifting heavy equipment 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 work can be very physical, and you may benefit from a healthy diet and exercise regimen to stay in good shape.
Would a Recession Impact HVAC Jobs?
While there isn't a job that's immune to a recession, HVAC is particularly resilient due to the widespread use of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation will always be needed, , which means professionals in HVAC 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. The newest models of heating and cooling systems need less energy or produce it from renewable sources like solar and wind. Sustainable HVAC equipment will continue to expand, as will the need for competent HVAC professionals.
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 in addition to professional 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 long it takes to become an HVAC technician relies on the program, which generally lasts between six months to two years. An employer may also require NATE certification. Standing for North American Technician Excellence, this key accreditation builds on your existing industry knowledge to maximize your capabilities.
While some elements of an HVAC career could be learned on your own, getting the necessary education means a combination of classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers aren't reliant on things like advanced math. While some math is involved, the bulk of an HVAC professionals’ skill set utilizes critical thinking, for identifying 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 advantage of a career in HVAC is little to no student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, enrolling in a technical or trade school typically costs around $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 every year. By 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 are a repair technician, 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. Some jobs may need more time and resources than others, so the number of calls you can go on may vary.
As stated previously, you should expect the occasional job in extreme weather as well as in dirty or cramped spaces. For roles assisting customers, strong customer service skills are always useful.
Do HVAC Careers Offer Good Salaries?? 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, salaries may fluctuate based on your location and its cost of living. Some HVAC techs working in management in a high-paying state could make upward of 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
It's easy to specialize in something with a career in the HVAC industry, and continuing education and certification opportunities help unlock paths to specialist careers with 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 even more so in Florida, California, Texas, New York and Illinois. According to hvacclasses.org, these states employ the most HVAC workers 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 Home Comfort Heating & Air
HVAC technicians can find work just about anywhere, including in . To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at [phone] today!