HVAC, a Career on the Rise
As stated above, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) is anticipating a 15 percent increase in openings for HVAC technicians (i.e., mechanics and installers) between 2016 and 2026. The wealth of opportunities for HVAC professionals has emerged for several reasons. Not only do most HVAC units have a lifespan of roughly ten years—requiring continual upkeep and maintenance—but also many businesses and homeowners stand to save money by making systems more efficient or “greener.” Energy Star (2015)—a voluntary program promoting energy use efficiency created by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—reports that the combined annual energy costs of commercial and residential properties is $400 billion, and an astounding 30 percent of all buildings have inefficient energy use.
HVAC is also a relatively lucrative field, paying a mean annual wage of $48,320, with a median hourly wage of $22.07, significantly higher than the median hourly wage for all occupations, which is $17.81 (BLS 2017). Not surprisingly, HVAC professionals’ average salary fluctuates by region, industry, level of experience, and source of data.
For instance, the BLS (2016) found that the top-paying states for HVAC specialists were:
District of Columbia: $67,230 (average annual salary)
North Dakota: $60,420
New Jersey: $58,420
The top-employing states in HVAC looks quite different (BLS 2016):
Florida: 28,700 HVAC specialists employed
New York: 15,930
It’s crucial to note that the cost of living (i.e., the purchasing power of these salaries) varies significantly by region. As proof of point, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2017) notes that the most expensive states in the country were concentrated in the west and northeast: Hawaii, District of Columbia, California, New York, and Alaska. The least expensive areas—mainly hailing from the midwest and south—were Mississippi, Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
Additionally, the two top-paying municipalities for HVAC services were located in California (BLS 2016):
San Rafael, CA: $75,940 (annual average salary)
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $75,470
Tacoma-Lakewood, WA: $73,240
Elgin, IL: $72,800
Fargo, ND: $70,270
Overall, the BLS (2016) reported the following salary ranges for HVAC professionals across the country:
10th percentile: $28,440
25th percentile: $35,440
50th percentile (median): $45,910
75th percentile: $58,960
90th percentile: $73,350
Other data sources, however, found slightly lower figures. Payscale (2017)—a site which relies on self-reported salaries in various employment sectors—found the following salary ranges among its 838 HVAC respondents:
10th percentile: $29,000
25th percentile: $34,000
50th percentile (median): $44,000
75th percentile: $55,000
90th percentile: $70,000
For more information on employment trends in the HVAC industry, check out the HVAC careers page.