Top Cities for HVAC Installers in 2021

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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 May 2019). Their data indicates that openings for HVAC professionals will grow 4 percent nationwide between 2019 and 2029—as fast as the anticipated average growth for all occupations.

Air Conditioning Refrigeration News 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.

HVAC and HVAC/R installation require 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 the 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 2021.

Which States Have the Highest Construction Rates?

According to Research and Markets (September 2020), nearly 61 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 utility projects.”
  • Texas: Texas continues to rebuild from hurricanes. It is also “the leader in energy and utility 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.” According to the New York Building Congress’ Construction Outlook 2020-2022 report, total construction spending between 2020 and 2022 is expected to reach $168.5 billion, despite the impacts of COVID-19.
  • 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.
  • Illinois: Ranking fifth in the list is Illinois according to Research and Markets. That rise in development is because companies are relocating to the Chicago area and bringing demand for a new office and residential space with them.

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

Which States Employ the Most HVAC Workers?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) found that the following states currently have the highest number of HVAC and HVAC/R workers employed:

  1. Florida: 31,710 HVAC workers employed
  2. California: 29,650
  3. Texas: 26,690
  4. New York: 18,810
  5. Pennsylvania: 15,630
  6. North Carolina: 13,800
  7. Ohio: 12,100
  8. Virginia: 11,670
  9. New Jersey: 10,430
  10. Georgia: 9,970

According to Projections Central (2020), the following fifteen states are expected to have the highest projected percentage increase in positions for HVAC mechanics and installers between 2018 and 2028:

  1. Utah: 31.1 percent increase in HVAC positions (2018-28)
  2. Colorado: 29.7 percent
  3. Nevada: 27.9 percent
  4. Arizona: 21.4 percent
  5. Iowa: 18.5 percent
  6. Oregon: 18.5 percent
  7. Montana: 18.5 percent
  8. Arkansas: 16.3 percent
  9. Florida: 16.2 percent
  10. South Carolina: 16.0 percent
  11. Texas: 15.9 percent
  12. Idaho: 15.7 percent
  13. Washington: 15.6 percent
  14. North Carolina: 15.5 percent
  15. Tennessee: 15.2 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: 5,420 new HVAC positions anticipated (2018-28)
  2. Texas: 4,530 jobs
  3. California: 4,100 jobs
  4. North Carolina: 2,510 jobs
  5. New York: 2,290 jobs
  6. Colorado: 2,000 jobs
  7. Ohio: 1,550 jobs
  8. Pennsylvania: 1,510 jobs
  9. Virginia: 1,500 jobs
  10. Tennessee: 1,360 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?

The BLS (May 2019) 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: 18,880 HVAC workers employed
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA: 9,450 employed
  3. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL: 8,540 employed
  4. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD: 8,420 employed
  5. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX: 7,650 employed
  6. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ: 7,540 employed
  7. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX: 7,010 employed
  8. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI: 6,450 employed
  9. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV: 6,440 employed
  10. Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH: 6,430 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 BLS (May 2019) found that the following metropolitan divisions have the highest rate of pay for HVAC professionals:

  1. Fairbanks, AK: $78,540 average annual salary
  2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA: $77,010
  3. Napa, CA: $76,570
  4. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA: $76,480
  5. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT: $72,630
  6. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI: $72,560
  7. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $71,460
  8. Barnstable Town, MA: $70,100
  9. Anchorage, AK: $68,800
  10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA: $67,750

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 October 2020, WalletHub released its list of ‘2020’s Fastest-Growing Cities in America.’ 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. Fort Myers, FL
  2. Bend, OR
  3. Meridian, ID
  4. Milpitas, CA
  5. Enterprise, NV
  6. Frisco, TX
  7. Town ‘n’ Country, FL
  8. Round Rock, TX
  9. Mount Pleasant, SC
  10. Nampa, ID

According to Quicken Loans (January 2020), the fastest-growing cities based on their overall population and what makes them attractive is as follows:

  1. Buckeye City, Arizona: 5 percent population growth in 2018 and median household income of $61,469
  2. New Braunfels, Texas: 2 percent population growth in 2018 and median household income of $65,932
  3. Apex, North Carolina: 8 percent population growth in 2018 and median household income of $89,392, significantly higher than the U.S. average of $53,482 per year
  4. Frisco, Texas: Population growth of 6.1 percent in 2018 and median household income is $112,155
  5. Meridian, Idaho: Population grew by 6.1 percent in 2018 and median household income is $63,225
  6. McKinney, Texas: Population grew by 5.4 percent in 2018 and median household income is $87,608
  7. Georgetown, Texas: Population grew by 5.2 percent in 2018 and median household income is $67,753
  8. Rowlett, Texas: Population grew by 5.1 percent in 2018 and median household income is $83,442
  9. St. Cloud, Florida: Population grew by 5 percent in 2018 and median household income is $48,911, lower than the national average
  10. Ankeny, Iowa: Population grew by 4.6 percent in 2018 and median household income is $79,536

There is little correlation between the two sets of statistics, as they cover different growth factors. 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:

  1. Seattle, WA
  2. Los Angeles, CA
  3. Denver, CO
  4. Chicago: IL
  5. Portland, OR
  6. Washington, DC
  7. New York City, NY
  8. Honolulu, HI
  9. Boston, MA
  10. 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.

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.

It is important to note that the data mentioned above is from 2018 and a lot has changed this year due to the impact of COVID-19. Dodge Data & Analytics states “COVID-19 Crushes Construction Starts in Most Metro Areas During First-Half 2020.” It states that commercial and multifamily starts were quite healthy during January and February but stalled as the pandemic hit the nation in March.

What Are the Best Cities for HVAC Workers?

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 the best job opportunity.

As noted above, the states with the highest expected number of new openings for HVAC mechanics and installers (Projections Central 2020) are:

  • Florida
  • Texas
  • California
  • North Carolina
  • 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. 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.
  3. Seattle – The city is the center of a fast-growing area and has the newest construction of all the cities. The metropolitan area is also noted for high pay. Washington state overall has a high demand for new workers.
  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. Miami-Fort 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. Boston Metropolitan Division – The area is growing at a rapid rate with a high rate of construction and has a high rate of HVAC and HVAC/R technicians and installers employed.
  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 21.4 percent more HVAC workers between 2018 and 2028.
  10. Houston – The city has a high growth rate with a corresponding growth in new construction. Texas 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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