Top Cities for HVAC Installers in 2020

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Heating, venting, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC and HVAC/R) technicians and installers are in high demand. Climate control is requisite for businesses, industries, institutions, and homeowners. It’s needed for comfort, preservation of food, and medical and research facilities.

The HVAC/R Workforce Development Foundation reported that as early as 2015, the demand for these skilled workers was greater than the supply. The gap between demand and supply has only increased according to their 2019 data. They anticipate that at least 115,000 new technicians will be needed by 2022. The continued increase in the need for individuals with installation, maintenance, and repair skills is confirmed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019). Their data indicates that openings for HVAC professionals will grow 13 percent nationwide between 2018 and 2028—more than double the anticipated average growth for all occupations.

Air Conditioning Refrigeration News (2018) attributed most of the industry growth to technology. Many HVAC/R systems have become part of the Internet of Things (IoT). The cost of equipment has decreased, and climate control has become more affordable. Technology has reduced the effect of the equipment on the environment, making interior comfort more desirable to energy-conscious consumers. Energy conservation incentives and rebates provide additional inducement to install systems in new buildings or replace aging equipment in existing structures.

CNN analysts reported that the housing market is “robust,” and they don’t expect a downturn in the demand for skilled construction workers. Politics plays a role in making infrastructure a priority, but experts attribute the growth primarily to a strong economy. Also, CNBC found that “construction spending is soaring,” and their analysts expect it to continue growing into the future. They see significant increases in both commercial and residential building projects.

Additionally, Forbes expects “the housing market to remain stable in 2020.” They also predict a construction boom as the inventory of existing homes for sale isn’t enough to meet the needs of potential buyers. They report that mortgage applications to purchase new homes is up by 27 percent and that “new housing starts are expected to reach their highest level since 2007.” They don’t expect the trend to slow, as the “forecast for 2021 shows more than one million newly built single-family homes.”

HVAC and HVAC/R installation requires skilled technicians. The equipment has become increasingly sophisticated, and the system is an integral part of the IoT in many structures. More and more of the components are automated, but installation still requires a skilled professional. Every system is unique.

Using rates of new construction and other factors, this guide explores the top cities for HVAC installers in the U.S. in 2020.

Which States Have the Highest Construction Rates?

According to Global Data (June 2019), nearly 60 percent of the construction market is located in ten states. The following five states report the most construction work:

  • California: Not only has California suffered devastating wildfires, flooding, and mudslides that have made rebuilding a priority, but also the state has “a large number of megaprojects in transportation infrastructure and energy and utilities projects.”
  • Texas: Texas continues to rebuild from hurricanes. It is also “the leader in energy and utilities projects” as well as development and infrastructure projects.
  • New York: Several major infrastructure projects are underway in New York, along with an anticipated increase in residential projects. “The MTA, the Port Authority and city government have all increased the funding they’re dedicating to infrastructure projects.” Spending has also increased for residential projects, emphasizing the “critical vitality and importance of the construction industry here.”
  • Florida: Florida is another state hard-hit by hurricanes, necessitating extensive rebuilding projects. The state also has mixed-use developments underway, as well as increased funding for education and healthcare facilities. There is currently a boom in condo and multi-family structures.
  • Washington: Washington’s Department of Commerce actively funds infrastructure and community capital construction projects, recreational youth projects, educational and healthcare facilities, as well as arts and cultural facilities.

The remaining five of the top ten states for construction are Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio, and North Carolina.

Which States Employ the Most HVAC Workers in 2020?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2018) found that the following states currently have the highest number of HVAC and HVAC/R workers employed:

  1. Florida: 29,650 HVAC workers employed
  2. California: 27,720
  3. Texas: 25,290
  4. New York: 19,160
  5. Pennsylvania: 15,330
  6. North Carolina: 14,370
  7. Virginia: 12,690
  8. Ohio: 11,130
  9. Georgia: 9,540
  10. New Jersey: 9,510

According to Projections Central (2020), the following ten states are expected to have the highest projected percentage increase in positions for HVAC mechanics and installers between 2016 and 2026:

  1. Utah: 42.3 percent increase in HVAC positions (2016-26)
  2. Arizona: 41.7 percent
  3. Colorado: 38.3 percent
  4. Nevada: 31.8 percent
  5. Florida: 26.8 percent
  6. Texas: 23.5 percent
  7. Washington: 22.4 percent
  8. Montana: 22.2 percent
  9. Tennessee: 22.1 percent
  10. Wyoming: 22.0 percent

The ranking is slightly different when projected changes are expressed as the absolute number of jobs added rather than as a percentage. The states with the highest expected number of new openings for HVAC mechanics and installers include:

  1. Florida: 8,740 new HVAC positions anticipated (2016-26)
  2. Texas: 6,190 jobs
  3. California: 5,600 jobs
  4. Arizona: 3,330 jobs
  5. New York: 2,700 jobs
  6. North Carolina: 2,150 jobs
  7. Colorado: 2,070 jobs
  8. New Jersey: 1,890 jobs
  9. Tennessee: 1,880 jobs
  10. Ohio: 1,770 jobs

The demand varies among states due to their economy, their weather, and their industrial and business bases, and the rate of new construction affects the demand for installers.

Which Cities Employ the Most HVAC Workers in 2020?

The BLS (May 2018) found that the following metropolitan divisions currently employ the highest number of HVAC mechanics and installers:

  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA: 19,250 HVAC workers employed
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA: 8,100 employed
  3. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD: 8,060 employed
  4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL: 7,480 employed
  5. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV: 7,390 employed
  6. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX: 7,160 employed
  7. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX: 6,800 employed
  8. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ: 6,220 employed
  9. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI: 5,790 employed
  10. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA: 5,760 employed

The data shows that the cities with the highest rate of employment are not always in the states of high employment. The New York-Newark-Jersey City area, for example, is first on the list; however, neither New York nor New Jersey overall is the highest-employment state for HVAC, although each ranks higher than some other states. The Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware shows the same anomaly. Workers in Colorado, Ohio, Tennessee, and North Carolina are located throughout their respective states, as no cities in those states have a high rate of HVAC employment.

The BLS (May 2018) found that the following metropolitan divisions have the highest rate of pay for HVAC professionals:

  1. Barnstable Town, MA: $72,720 average annual salary
  2. Springfield, IL: $72,620
  3. Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA: $71,680
  4. Peoria, IL: $71,090
  5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $70,260
  6. Napa, CA: $69,350
  7. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI: $69,330
  8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT: $68,660
  9. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA: $68,210
  10. Fairbanks, AK: $67,580

There is little correlation in these areas between employment and pay. At first glance, there appears to be some correlation in California, as it has three metropolitan divisions ranked as high-paying. Those areas, however, are in the northern part of the state, while the metropolitan area with the highest employment is in the southern part of the state.

In February 2018, Forbes released its annual ranking of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. (The Forbes 2019 data isn’t available as of early 2020.) Although their data doesn’t specifically address construction activity, growth requires new homes and workplaces, thus adding to the demand for HVAC installers and mechanics. The top ten are:

  1. Boise City, ID Metropolitan Statistical Area: 2.34 percent projected population growth in 2018
  2. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division: 1.76 percent
  3. Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division: 1.92 percent
  4. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area: 2.93 percent
  5. Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Division: 1.93 percent
  6. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Metropolitan Statistical Area: 2.43 percent
  7. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area: 2.15 percent
  8. Austin-Round Rock, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area: 2.75 percent
  9. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area: 3.37 percent
  10. Tacoma-Lakewood, WA Metropolitan Division: 1.32 percent

A Global Cities report compiled by Oxford Economics ranks the fastest-growing cities based on the average growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) between 2019 and 2035. High-tech industries and the digital economy are cited as the primary drivers of the projected growth in GDP, as follows:

  1. San Jose 3.0 average percent GDP growth
  2. Portland 2.6
  3. Austin 2.6
  4. Seattle 2.4
  5. Charlotte 2.4
  6. Nashville 2.4
  7. San Francisco 2.4
  8. Orlando 2.3
  9. Dallas 2.3
  10. Salt Lake City 2.3

There is little correlation between the two sets of statistics, as they cover different growth factors over a different time period. What is worth noting is that the greatest increase in population growth is not in the cities that appear to be experiencing the most economic growth. Population growth and expanding economies both point to the need for HVAC technicians, although the systems they will be installing and servicing may require differing specialties.

Commercial Property Executive (CPE), a commercial real estate resource, compiles statistics from various industry reports. Their latest data (February 2018) shows the following cities as having the highest rates of construction:

  • Seattle, WA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Denver, CO
  • Chicago: IL
  • Portland, OR
  • Washington, DC
  • New York City, NY
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Boston, MA
  • Phoenix, AZ

Mixed-use buildings lead the way of new construction, followed by structures for residential, educational, commercial, healthcare, and hospitality use. Their criteria for determining the number of new buildings is the number of cranes at work. The data, therefore, only reflects construction in progress at the end of 2017. They state that “many projects are planned for 2018.” Complete data for 2018 isn’t yet available.

CPE (April 2018) additionally quotes data released by Dodge Data & Analytics, a construction research organization, for the 2018 top ten metro areas for retail building construction. Those areas are:

  • New York, NY
  • Miami, FL
  • Dallas-Ft Worth, TX
  • Houston, TX
  • Chicago, IL
  • Boston, MA
  • Washington, DC
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Minneapolis-St Paul, MN

Only four cities are on both lists, due to the varying criteria used and dates on which the data was collected.

What Are the Best Cities for HVAC Workers in 2020?

So, which cities are the best choice for someone seeking work as an HVAC/R mechanic or installer? The answer depends on whether a worker is looking for the highest pay or best job opportunity.

The top five states for job opportunities are:

  • Florida
  • Texas
  • California
  • Arizona
  • New York

As noted earlier, the best cities for HVAC workers are not necessarily located in the top-employing or top-paying states. Taking the above data and weather patterns into consideration, the top ten metropolitan areas for HVAC professionals in 2020 are:

  1. Dallas-Fort Worth – The two cities and areas around them have a high rate of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians and installers employed and have a high rate of new construction in a fast-growing area. Texas is also a state with a high rate of job opportunities.
  2. Seattle – The city is the center of a fast-growing area and has the most new construction of all the cities. The metropolitan area is also noted for high pay. Washington state overall has a high demand for new workers.
  3. Los Angeles – The city and surrounding areas have a high rate of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians and installers employed and had a high rate of new construction, particularly in commercial and retail structures. It is also located in a state that ranks highly for new job opportunities. More northern cities, such as San Rafael, San Jose, and Santa Rosa, have fewer opportunities, but higher pay rates. Those areas (San Jose in particular) are experiencing high growth due to technology.
  4. Chicago – The city and nearby areas have a high rate of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians and installers employed and a high rate of new construction. The remainder of Illinois is low on the list of job opportunities; however, the Springfield and Peoria areas offer a high rate of pay.
  5. New York Metropolitan Division – The city and surrounding areas have a high rate of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians and installers employed and had a high rate of new construction. Additionally, it’s in a state that ranks high in the expected number of new openings for HVAC mechanics and installers.
  6. Washington, D.C. – The area has a high rate of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians and installers employed and has a high rate of new construction.
  7. Atlanta Metropolitan Division – The area has a high rate of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians and installers employed and has a high rate of new construction.
  8. Orlando Metropolitan Division – The area is growing at a rapid rate with a high rate of construction. Florida has a high rate of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians and installers employed, and ranks near the top for new job opportunities.
  9. Phoenix Metropolitan Division – The area has a high rate of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians and installers employed and has a high rate of new construction. It is also located in a state that ranks highly for new job opportunities as it will need 41.7 percent more HVAC workers between 2016 and 2026.
  10. Nashville – The city has a high growth rate with a corresponding growth in new construction. Tennessee is also one of the states with the highest expected number of new openings for HVAC mechanics and installers.

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith was introduced to the HVAC industry when she worked as a bookkeeper and secretary for a small air-conditioning contractor. She eventually became a CPA and started her own practice specializing in small business taxes and accounting. After retiring from business, she began writing articles for newspapers, magazines, and websites. She also authored four books. Sandra makes her home in the mountains with a rescue dog that naps on her lap as she writes.

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