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 the continued growth of the industry by 13 percent by 2028.
People interested in HVAC quickly discover why these careers are continuing to grow. 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 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. Learn more about their skill set, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.
What Is an HVAC Technician?
A HVAC technician should be able to repair, install and maintain heating and cooling systems. Most technicians will earn experience on equipment in both homes and commercial properties. And, most important, you’ll learn a great deal about:
- Air conditioners
- Mini-splits and heat pumps
- Thermostats and home zoning
- Indoor air quality products such as air filters and air purification systems
A few become 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 shrinking labor force within the industry. This discrepancy is the result of several factors, like a higher rate of retirement and competition from other industries. Many younger people also pursue college degrees rather than 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 uncomfortable settings, including tight or messy spaces.
- Work in inclement weather since equipment is often 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 a smart career if you would like to:
- Avoid large amounts of student debt.
- Work outdoors instead of in an office.
- Have job security since HVAC positions can't be outsourced.
- Be your own boss and work toward starting your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Demanding Job?
Any job can be stressful. HVAC technicians service complex equipment and will occasionally have to endure cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Appropriate experience and tools are helpful when resolving these concerns. In addition, 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?
Carrying heavy items and performing repetitive motions are two common reasons HVAC can be physically demanding. Getting to specialized types of equipment can be exhausting. 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 no job is guaranteed to survive 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 apprentices and master technicians alike can often find work in many different cities.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As climate control technology continues to evolve, reliable expertise will become even more important. The newest models of heating and cooling systems use less energy or generate it from renewable sources including solar and wind. Greener HVAC equipment will keep growing more popular, as will the need for certified HVAC technicians.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
To become an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED in addition to industry training. Other, more specific (and higher paying) HVAC careers are dependent on additional education or certifications.
Earn certifications by enrolling in 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 generally lasts between six months to two years. Your employer might 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 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 involve complex math. While some math is involved, the bulk of an HVAC professionals’ skill set utilizes critical thinking, in order to properly identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that having experience with things like tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be vital as equipment becomes capable of even more.
Another key perk of working in HVAC is almost zero student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, enrolling in a technical or trade school generally costs approximately $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 per year. In comparison, the standard student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
A Day in the Life of an HVAC Technician
A typical workday may vary on the work site as well as your specific skill set. If you primarily offer repair services, 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, your 'office' is actually all the properties you visit to complete repair, maintenance or installation work. Some jobs might take longer than others, so the number of calls you can go on may vary.
As we mentioned before, you should expect the occasional job 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 a positive.
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. Professionals with specialized skills could make between $56,600 and $68,000. However, 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.
Along with starting your own business, there are other paths for career advancement. These include:
- HVAC manager, $72,515 average salary
- HVAC service manager, $71,176 average salary
Types of HVAC That Pay More
You can specialize for new opportunities within 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 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 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 Central Air LLC
HVAC technicians are needed everywhere, including in . To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at [phone] today!