If you’re considering a new, 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.
There are several reasons why these careers are growing so quickly. One is homeowners taking advantage of government incentives to upgrade to more energy-efficient comfort systems. There's also the transition away from R-22 Freon®, which impacts older equipment. Finally, there’s the ever-changing real estate market exacerbated by a property shortage that’s driven an increase in new construction homes.
One of the most in-demand careers is working as an HVAC technician. Learn more about their skill set, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.
What Are HVAC Technicians?
A HVAC technician possesses the knowledge and skills to service heating and cooling systems. Many technicians are skilled with both residential and commercial equipment. And, most importantly, you’ll receive a comprehensive education about:
A few become HVAC-R technicians, which means they also work with refrigeration.
Is There a Shortage of HVAC Technicians?
There is a high demand for qualified HVAC technicians because of the current shortage in the industry. This discrepancy is the result of several factors, including an aging workforce 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 need to be able to:
- Work in uncomfortable settings, like tight or dusty spaces.
- Work in hot or cold areas since HVAC systems are usually outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime around peak demand.
One of the biggest misconceptions about HVAC is that it’s a blue-collar career. It requires a specific skill set, specialized education and ongoing certification.
It’s an excellent first career if you prefer to:
- Minimize 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 handle complex equipment and must sometimes deal with cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. The proper experience and tools can help mitigate some of these concerns. What’s more, paid training and a stable workload help people in the HVAC industry avoid some of the most common reasons for work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Moving heavy items and performing repetitive motions are two common reasons HVAC can be physically demanding. 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 a recession can affect any industry, HVAC is particularly resilient due to the sheer popularity of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation are always necessary, which means professionals in HVAC can often find work across the country.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As HVAC systems continue to advance, technicians and installers will become even more important. New forms of heating and cooling systems need less energy or produce it from renewable sources including 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 as well as professional training. Other, more specialized (and higher paying) HVAC careers typically need additional education or certifications.
You can become certified by taking classes at a community college or trade school. How long it takes to become an HVAC technician varies from program to program, which is most often around six months to two years. An HVAC company will sometimes also require NATE certification. Standing for North American Technician Excellence, this industry-leading accreditation builds on your existing industry knowledge to maximize your capabilities.
While some aspects of the job can be learned on your own, a proper education means blending classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers don’t require things like advanced math skills. While a little math is needed, most of the HVAC professionals’ skill set utilizes critical thinking, used to 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, attending a technical or trade school generally costs approximately $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 per year. With a more conventional education, the standard student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
A Day in the Life of an HVAC Technician
The daily schedule may vary based on the project and job site. 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 you can go on may vary.
As stated previously, you should be comfortable working outdoors in inclement weather as well as in dirty or cramped spaces. For jobs that work with customers or clients, strong customer service skills are always useful.
Is a Career in HVAC Profitable? Average Salary for HVAC Technicians and Other HVAC Careers
Since the HVAC industry is growing quickly, 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. Then again, salaries may fluctuate based on your location and its cost of living. Some HVAC techs working in management in a high-paying state could make upward of 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 That Pay More
You can specialize for new opportunities within the HVAC industry, and continuing education and certification opportunities offer access to even higher salaries. For example, master engineers with project management or custom system design experience could earn six figures annually. 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 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 should spur continued growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with Kapaun & Brown
HVAC technicians are needed everywhere, including in . To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at today!