If you’re considering a new, 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 additional industry growth of 13 percent by 2028.
People interested in HVAC quickly discover why these careers are continuing to grow. One is homeowners taking advantage of government incentives 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 spurred further growth in 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 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 be knowledgeable about:
- Air conditioners
- Mini-splits and heat pumps
- Thermostats and home zoning
- Indoor air quality systems including air filters and air purification systems
Some are HVAC-R technicians, which means they also work with refrigeration.
Is There a Shortage of HVAC Technicians?
Qualified HVAC technicians are in high demand because of shrinking labor force within 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 can be physically demanding, it can still be a fulfilling career. As a technician you'll be expected to occasionally:
- Work in awkward settings, like tight or dusty spaces.
- Work in inclement weather since HVAC systems are usually outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime throughout peak demand.
A common misconception about learning 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 large amounts of student debt.
- Work outdoors instead of in an office.
- Have job security knowing your position can’t be outsourced.
- Gain the experience you need to start your own successful business.
Is HVAC a Demanding Job?
Any job can be stressful. HVAC technicians work on complex equipment and may be subject to cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. Sufficient experience and tools can help mitigate some of these concerns. What’s more, paid training and a steady supply of work help both installers and technicians reduce some of the most common reasons for work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Moving heavy items and performing repetitive motions are both common during HVAC work. Getting to specialized types of equipment can be strenuous. HVAC projects are often physical, and you may benefit from a healthy diet and exercise regimen to stay in good shape.
Is HVAC a Recession-Proof Job?
While there isn't a job that's immune to a recession, HVAC is especially reliable due to the essential nature of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation will always be needed, meaning HVAC professionals can often find work in many different cities.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As climate control technology continues to evolve, professional servicing will become even more important. The newest models of heating and cooling systems use less energy or obtain it from renewable sources such as solar and wind. Greener HVAC equipment will continue to grow in popularity, as will the need for experienced installers and technicians.
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 specialized (and higher paying) HVAC careers require additional education or certifications.
Earn certifications by signing up for classes at a community college or trade school. How much time is needed to become an HVAC technician varies from program to program, which is typically six months to two years. An employer may also require NATE certification. An acronym for North American Technician Excellence, this industry-leading accreditation builds on your existing industry knowledge to maximize your capabilities.
Even though basic concepts 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 lies in critical thinking, in order to properly identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that technicians familiar with tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be in big demand as equipment grows in complexity and functionality.
Another key perk of working in HVAC is little to no student debt.
According to Midwest Technical Institute, attending a technical or trade school generally costs approximately $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 annually. 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
The daily schedule may vary depending on where you work. 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 are more likely to have a set schedule for regular business hours.
As a technician, you’ll respond to different locations for 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 expect the occasional job in extreme weather as well as in difficult-to-reach places. For roles assisting customers, 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, salaries may fluctuate based on your location and its cost of living. Experienced HVAC technicians transitioning to a position in management in a high-paying state could make upward of 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 That Pay More
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 experience designing custom equipment or leading projects could be eligible for salaries as high as six figures. Larger salaries are also common when you work 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 particularly 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 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 is anticipated to fuel growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with Tru Air Systems LLC
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!