If you want a fulfilling, 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 careers in this industry will grow 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. There's also the transition away from R-22 Freon®, which affects old models. Finally, there’s the dynamic real estate market as well as a property shortage that’s increased the availability of new construction homes.
You can join this rewarding industry by becoming an HVAC technician. Find out about what they do, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.
What Are HVAC Technicians?
A HVAC technician is someone who repairs, installs and maintains heating and cooling systems. Most work with both homeowners and business owners. And, most important, you’ll learn a great deal about:
Some apprentices even 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 an industry shortage of labor. This shortage is because of several things, like a higher rate of retirement and competition from other industries. There are also more young people seeking college degrees as opposed to 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 high or low temperatures 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 truth, you'll need distinct skills, specialized education and continuous recertification.
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 because the HVAC industry can't be outsourced.
- Be your own boss and work toward starting your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Stressful Job?
Any job can be stressful. HVAC technicians handle complex equipment and may be subject to cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Appropriate experience and tools can help mitigate some of these concerns. What’s more, paid training and a steady supply of work help people in the HVAC industry avoid some of the most common triggers of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Lifting heavy equipment and performing repetitive motions are two common reasons HVAC can be physically demanding. Accessing and servicing large equipment can be exhausting. HVAC technicians should be physically fit, and you may benefit from a healthy diet and exercise regimen to stay in good shape.
Is HVAC a Recession-Proof Job?
While a recession can affect any industry, 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 many different cities.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As HVAC systems continue to advance, professional servicing will become even more important. Newer models of heating and cooling systems consume less energy or obtain 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 learn everything you need to become an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED as well as industry training. Other, more specialized (and higher paying) HVAC careers require additional education or certifications.
You can secure the needed certifications by taking classes at a community college or trade school. The time it takes to become an HVAC technician may fluctuate depending on the specific program, which is most often around six months to two years. Your employer might also require NATE certification. This refers to North American Technician Excellence, this industry-leading accreditation expands your technical knowledge to ensure the highest quality services.
While some elements of an HVAC career could be learned on your own, getting the necessary education means blending 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, 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 in big demand 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 typically costs around $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 every year. With a more conventional education, the standard 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 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 may have more of 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. Some jobs may require more time than others, so the number of calls each day can fluctuate.
Like we mentioned earlier, every now and then the job will have to be done 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 a positive.
Can You Make a Good Living in HVAC? Average Salary for HVAC Technicians and Other HVAC Careers
With the constant growth in HVAC careers, 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. Then again, your salary may be dependent on the area's average wages 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 with the Highest Salaries
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 with experience designing custom equipment or leading projects 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 in demand across the country, but especially so in states like Florida, California, Texas, New York and Illinois. According to hvacclasses.org, these states need the greatest number of HVAC professionals 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 Precision Mechanical
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!