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 careers in this industry will grow by 13 percent by 2028.
It's easy to see why these careers are growing so quickly. One is federal incentives to upgrade to more energy-efficient comfort systems. It's also important to consider R-22 Freon® coolant, which affects old models. Finally, there’s the red-hot real estate market and a property shortage that’s increased the availability of 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 Does It Mean to Be an HVAC Technician?
A HVAC technician possesses the knowledge and skills to service heating and cooling systems. Most work with both homeowners and business owners. And, most important, you’ll be knowledgeable about:
A few become HVAC-R technicians, meaning they also have experience 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 has you on your feet, it can still be a fulfilling career. As a technician you'll be expected to occasionally:
- Work in unpleasant settings, like tight or messy 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. It requires a specific skill set, specialized education and continuous recertification.
It’s an excellent first career if you prefer to:
- Avoid a lot of student debt.
- Avoid working at a desk or in an office.
- Have job security since HVAC positions can't be outsourced.
- Gain the experience you need to start your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Stressful Job?
You can't fully escape stress when on the job. HVAC technicians service complex equipment and must sometimes deal with cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Sufficient experience and tools can help mitigate some of these concerns. In addition, paid training and a stable workload help HVAC professionals reduce some of the most common sources of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Lifting heavy items and performing repetitive motions are two common reasons HVAC can be physically demanding. Accessing and servicing large equipment can be exhausting. 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 no job is guaranteed to survive a recession, HVAC is especially reliable due to the essential nature of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation are always necessary, which means apprentices and master technicians alike can often find work in more places than other industries.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As HVAC systems continue to advance, professional servicing will become even more important. The newest models of heating and cooling systems consume less energy or generate it from renewable sources like solar and wind. Greener HVAC equipment will continue to expand, as will the need for experienced installers and technicians.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
To start a career as an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED in addition to technical training. Other, more specialty (and higher paying) HVAC careers require additional education or certifications.
Earn certifications by enrolling in classes at a community college or trade school. How long it takes 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. Standing for North American Technician Excellence, this industry-leading accreditation expands your technical knowledge to help you better serve customers.
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 aren't reliant on things like advanced math. While a little math is needed, most of the HVAC professionals’ skill set relies on critical thinking, for identifying 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 advantage of a career in HVAC is little to no student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, signing up for classes at a technical or trade school usually costs about $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 annually. In comparison, the average student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
A Daily Schedule as an HVAC Technician
Your work 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 technicians or installers working in construction, you are more likely to have a set schedule during normal 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 on a given day could vary considerably.
As stated previously, you should expect the occasional job in extreme weather as well as in difficult-to-reach places. For jobs that work with customers or clients, strong customer service skills are always useful.
Do HVAC Careers Offer Good Salaries?? 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, salaries may fluctuate based on your location 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 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 help unlock paths to specialist careers with even higher salaries. For example, master engineers with project management or custom system design experience could receive six-figure salaries. Larger salaries are also more likely if you have experience 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 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 will further encourage growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with Watts Electric & AC
HVAC technicians can find work just about anywhere, including in . To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at today!