If you want a fulfilling, 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. It's also important to consider R-22 Freon® coolant, which impacts any system still using it. Finally, there’s the dynamic real estate market as well as a property shortage that’s spurred further growth in new construction homes.
You can join this rewarding industry by becoming an HVAC technician. Learn more about their skill set, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.
What Is an HVAC Technician?
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 important, you’ll be knowledgeable about:
Some are 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. This shortage is because of several things, such as more retirements and competition from other industries. It's also more likely for young people to start pursuing college degrees as opposed to a licensed trade like HVAC.
Is HVAC a Hard Career?
While HVAC often requires physical exertion, it can also be very rewarding. As a technician should be able to:
- Work in awkward settings, like tight or messy spaces.
- Work in inclement weather since HVAC equipment is generally found outdoors.
- Work evenings, weekends and overtime during 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 periodic recertification.
It’s an excellent first career if you prefer to:
- Minimize student debt.
- Avoid working at a desk or in 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 Stressful Job?
Any job can be stressful. HVAC technicians service complex equipment and may be subject to cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. The proper experience and tools can help address any concerns. Additionally, paid training and a steady supply of work help people in the HVAC industry fend off some of the most common sources of work-related stress.
Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?
Lifting heavy equipment and performing repetitive motions are both common during HVAC work. Accessing and servicing large equipment can be tiring. HVAC projects are often physical, and you may benefit from a healthy diet and exercise regimen to stay in good shape.
Would a Recession Impact HVAC Jobs?
While there isn't a job that's immune to a recession, HVAC is particularly resilient due to the widespread use of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation will always be needed, meaning HVAC professionals can often find work in more places than other industries.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
As climate control technology continues to evolve, technicians and installers will become even more important. Newer models of heating and cooling systems need less energy or produce it from renewable sources like solar and wind. Sustainable HVAC equipment will continue to expand, as will the need for experienced installers and technicians.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
To start a career as an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED in addition to professional training. Other, more specialty (and higher paying) HVAC careers are dependent on additional education or certifications.
Earn certifications by taking classes at a community college or trade school. How much time is needed 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. An acronym for North American Technician Excellence, this key accreditation further develops your technical knowledge to maximize your capabilities.
Even though basic concepts of an HVAC career could be learned on your own, a proper education means combining classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers aren't reliant on things like advanced math. While a little math is needed, the bulk of an HVAC professionals’ skill set relies on critical thinking, for identifying 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 becomes more technologically advanced.
Another advantage of a career in HVAC is almost zero 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. With a more conventional education, the average student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.
Your Day-to-Day Schedule as an HVAC Technician
Your work schedule may vary based on the project and job site. If you are a repair technician, you may work early, late or be on call throughout the day. For technicians or installers working in construction, you may have more of a set schedule during normal business hours.
As a technician, your 'office' is actually all the properties you visit to complete repair, maintenance or installation work. Complex jobs may need more time and resources than others, so the number of calls you can go on may vary.
Like we mentioned earlier, you should be comfortable working outdoors in inclement weather as well as in dirty or cramped spaces. For roles assisting customers, strong customer service skills are always useful.
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 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. However, total compensation can depend on where you live and its cost of living. HVAC techs with enough experience to work in management in a high-paying state could make upward of six figures.
In addition to owning 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 More
There is a lot of room for specialization in the HVAC industry, and continuing education and certification opportunities help unlock paths to specialist careers with even higher salaries. For example, master engineers who can manage projects and design custom HVAC systems could earn six figures annually. Larger salaries are also more likely if you have experience 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 high demand across the United States, 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 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 will further encourage growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.
Grow Your HVAC Career with Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning
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!