If you want a fulfilling, successful career, look no further than 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 growing so quickly. 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.
A career that's increasingly in demand is an HVAC technician. Find out about what they do, 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 work with both homeowners and business owners. And, most important, you’ll receive a comprehensive education 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, 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 can be physically demanding, it can still be quite gratifying. As a technician you’ll need to be able to:
- Work in awkward settings, like tight or dirty spaces.
- Work in hot or cold areas since HVAC equipment is generally found outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime during peak demand.
A stubborn falsehood about HVAC is that it’s a blue-collar career. In truth, you'll need distinct skills, specialized education and periodic recertification.
It’s an excellent first career if you prefer to:
- Minimize student debt.
- Stay active rather than remain inside 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 Difficult Job?
Any job can be stressful. HVAC technicians work on complex equipment and must sometimes deal with cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. The proper experience and tools are helpful when resolving these concerns. In addition, paid training and a stable workload help both installers and technicians fend off some of the most common triggers of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Lifting heavy objects and performing repetitive motions are both common during HVAC work. Reaching difficult-to-access equipment can be strenuous. 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 there isn't a job that's immune to a recession, HVAC is especially reliable 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 more places than other industries.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As HVAC equipment becomes more complex, technicians and installers will become even more important. The newest models of heating and cooling systems use less energy or produce it from renewable sources like solar and wind. Sustainable 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 technical training. Other, more specific (and higher paying) HVAC careers are dependent on additional education or certifications.
You can become certified by taking classes at a community college or trade school. How much time is needed 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. This refers to North American Technician Excellence, this industry-leading 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 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 utilizes critical thinking, used to identify problems and ensure quality installation.
Career Explorer reports that HVAC technicians who are familiar with tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be vital as equipment becomes capable of even more.
Another key perk of working 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 per year. In comparison, the average student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
A Daily Schedule as an HVAC Technician
A typical workday 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. 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. Complex jobs may require more time than others, so the number of calls each day can fluctuate.
As we mentioned before, every now and then the job will have to be done in extreme weather as well as in dirty or cramped spaces. For jobs that work with customers or clients, strong customer service skills are always welcome.
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. However, salaries may fluctuate based on your location and its cost of living. HVAC techs with enough experience to work in management in a high-paying state could earn a salary as high as six figures.
Aside from launching 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 the Most
It's easy to specialize in something with a career in the HVAC industry, and continuing education and certification opportunities open doors for niche positions with great salaries. For example, master engineers with project management or custom system design experience could receive six-figure salaries. 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 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 need the most HVAC work 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 will further encourage growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with Northern Comfort Inc
HVAC technicians remain in demand across the country and in . To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at today!