Is HVAC a Good Career Path? Pros and Cons

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The HVAC field is a diverse one that offers a multitude of job opportunities. With job availability comes job security and larger salaries for technicians.

This article will discuss projected salaries for HVAC jobs, different job positions, and the certification process.

Want to learn more about why a career in HVAC might be the perfect fit for you?

HVAC Salaries

HVAC technicians’ salaries reflect the demand for skilled HVAC workers. BLS.gov statistics show that techs have comparatively high earning potential. In 2016 techs made, on average, over $48,000 a year. The mean hourly wage for HVAC technicians came in at a substantial $23.23 according to 2016 statistics. The top 10% HVAC earners had salaries that topped out at around 70K.

If you are new to the field, entry level salaries for those technicians with 0-5 years of experience range from 28-40k. Late career technicians earn nearly double that, earning on average around 60k.

Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2022 the field will experience a 21% increase in job growth. HVAC techs will be busier than ever before and remain in high demand throughout the next decade. HVAC jobs can never be outsourced and will always be on site, which affords technicians and other professionals long-term job security.

There's a lot of jobs available in the HVAC industry

Based on 2016 statistics the top three states with the highest concentration of jobs for HVAC technicians are Florida, California, and Texas. States with the lowest concentration are Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas.

While North Dakota has low job concentration, their technicians have one of the highest annual mean wages. The District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Alaska have the highest paid HVAC techs in America. Even in states with a lower number of job opportunities, there is still great potential for big fiscal rewards in the field.

The reason for such high job growth within the field compared to other occupations can be attributed to the influx of new technology available. Older HVAC equipment is less efficient and needs constant repairing and replacing. There will be a continued increase in new installations and with it new maintenance needs, meaning that HVAC companies will be busier than ever before in the coming years.

Job Diversity

There are many types of jobs within the HVAC industry. You don’t need to be an HVAC technician to benefit from the HVAC boom. There are HVAC managers, installers, engineers, and refrigeration techs needed to help fill the demand for new installations. Here are some short job descriptions for these alternative opportunities:

HVAC Managers

A manager is an essential part any team of service technicians. When working on an installation or repair for heating, ventilation, or air conditioning for projects, the manager is responsible for overseeing the job. They work with the client to make sure the project goals are met while meeting customer service needs.

HVAC Installers

Installers are the system controllers. They install, repair and maintain a building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. These systems are crucial to building occupants’ comfortable, keeping them cool in hot weather and warm during the winter time.

HVAC Engineers

Engineers have a lot of different opportunities and varying responsibilities in the field. They can design systems, work with installers, improve a system’s maintenance, and engineer repairs. They can work directly for HVAC companies or explore opportunities offered at design firms, government agencies, or HVAC equipment manufacturers.

HVAC engineers design systems

Refrigeration Technicians

These mechanics repair, install, and maintain refrigeration systems. They work on everything from beverage equipment to residential climate-control. This niche role is very versatile and job opportunities are available in residential, commercial, or industrial settings.

It is Relatively Cheap and Easy to Become Certified

HVAC certifications are easy to get and demonstrate that an HVAC technician is trained ad qualified to perform a specific skill. Getting certified will give techs an edge over the competition when applying for jobs. It can also afford more opportunities for skilled work with higher pay rates. From certificates for servicing small appliances to repairing high-pressure systems, there are a variety of HVAC certifications that are both affordable and simple to obtain.

Here are the requirements and steps for certification:

    1. Have a high school diploma or equivalent
    2. Earn basic HVAC certification from a local trade school or program
    3. Earn basic HVAC certification from a local trade school or program
    4. Obtain additional certificates related to your specific career development in HVAC

If you want to learn more you can read our complete guide on how to get your HVAC certification here. It will explain everything you need to know to get started. 

These are also some additional certifications to that you could consider:

  • EPA Type I-III Certifications
  • Universal EPA Certificate
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)

Typical Day as an HVAC Tech

A typical day in the life of an HVAC technician can vary depending on what type of company a technician works for. The work schedule may start whenever the repair is needed. If you are working for a home building company you might have a regular 9-5 schedule.

The beginning of the day for an HVAC tech starts out by going to the workplace to prepare for the job ahead of them. After learning about the schedule for the day the necessary equipment will get loaded into the company vehicle. Then the techs will head out to the job site.

A tech might work for a company that is appointment-based, going from home to home installing and maintaining cooling systems. This kind of job might suit someone who enjoys variety and working closely with the public.

For techs that work in industrial or commercial settings, it is possible they will be at the same job site all day long for weeks at a time. There might be an HVAC manager that is dealing directly with the client. This might be a better fit for someone who likes to work on bigger projects for a longer period of time without having customer service responsibilities.

A day can include any one of these tasks or all of them: installation, repair, preventative maintenance, or an unexpected customer emergency.

There can be a call for an emergency repair at any point in the day. While this can be stressful at times, it offers techs an opportunity to earn more money working overtime.

HVAC is tough work

The Downsides to a Career in HVAC

So far, having a career in HVAC sounds perfect, right? Well, like with any job, it has its own set of drawbacks.

Hard to get started without experience

Without hands-on experience, it can be difficult to get hired initially. Breaking into the industry without formal HVAC education or related job industry can be tedious. Be sure to check your local union for apprenticeship opportunities and contact local contractors during the busy season.

Physically demanding

Working a very physical job where you are on your feet 40+ hours a week performing laborious tasks can take its toll. While young HVAC technicians might not consider this factor, later in their career they can start to feel the negative physical effects.

Takes time and experience to learn

Learning about all of the different systems you might encounter on the job takes time. You can’t master it all in a day, week, or even a year. As different problems arise on the job which you have never encountered before, troubleshooting remains crucial.

Final Verdict on Exploring an HVAC Career

Overall, the drawbacks are far outweighed by the benefits. A career in HVAC can make you an invaluable skilled tradesperson in a job market where the demand is only increasing. As the demand rises, salaries will often rise with along with it. HVAC professionals play a crucial role in all American’s everyday lives.

They serve as comfort controllers, helping to provide the population with heating, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration. Look into one of the many careers available in HVAC today.

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About Author

My name is Bob and I am a retired HVAC tech from Washington state. I am currently retired and no longer do much with HVAC, however, I feel like I have a lot of knowledge in the subject and I wanted to create a website where I could talk about what I've learned and help upcoming HVAC techs.

2 Comments

  1. It should also be mentioned as a drawback that conditions are never comfortable where you are going to be working, if they were comfortable you wouldn’t be needed so you need to prepare yourself mentally that there will always be a high level of discomfort where you are working

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