HVAC Career Information

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Most people don’t like to pile on hats, coats, socks and other clothes just to stay warm indoors in the winter or to turn to a fan and iced drinks to build a cool summer climate. This is the why they have heating and air conditioning systems in their homes and businesses, and why technicians and contractors may find an HVAC career busy and demanding. HVAC technicians help to install, care for, and repair heating and air-conditioning systems units and also work with ventilation and refrigeration systems in residential and commercial properties.For many different reasons, they will find the HVAC field is growing.

New regulations are requiring homes to be more energy-efficient and those in HVAC careers need to have more technical skills to understand these new systems. For example, some homeowners now opt for two-stage furnace systems that create more balanced heating and lead to improved energy efficiency. Following the Great Recession, homeowners may also be more interested in savings and invest in better equipment up front to be able to save on costs in the future. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics notes the need for HVAC technicians will grow due to a construction industry that is recovering from the recent recession will require the skills of HVAC technicians and contractors in building new homes, homes built between 2002 and 2006 will start needing their HVAC systems replaced since most systems last between 10 to 15 years, and finally an emphasis on pollution reduction will lead to the retrofitting of equipment and systems so that they are energy efficient and no longer use prohibited refrigerants.

HVAC Career Outlook

chart Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (BLS, 2016)

Predictions stemming from 2016 data shows that jobs for HVAC mechanics and installers are expected to grow by 15% through the year 2026, which is much faster than the average for all professions (just 7%). This equates to 49,100 new jobs over that decade-long span.

Using the same data, the BLS says that the average HVAC technician will earn about $45,910 annually, which works out to $22.07 an hour. Of course, average salaries do not tend to represent what a new HVAC technician can expect to make. According to Payscale, entry level HVAC technicians can expect to make around $15.95 per hour. Learning skills that include controls and commercial application can help technicians to earn more, faster.

The region in which an HVAC technician is employed can have a major impact both on how many jobs are available as well as how much the technician could make. Using the BLS average, which includes most HVAC professions, the top employment areas in the U.S. include:

  • Florida, with 28,700 jobs
  • California, with 25,360 jobs
  • Texas, with 24,300 jobs
  • New York, with 15,930 jobs
  • Pennsylvania, with 13,160 jobs

 

Unfortunately, the top paying states for HVAC technicians have minimal overlap with where technicians can expect to find the highest employment levels:

  • District of Columbia, $32.32 per hour
  • Hawaii, $32.12 per hour
  • Alaska, $30.59 per hour
  • North Dakota, $29.05 per hour
  • New Jersey, $28.08 per hour

Keep reading for data on more specialized careers.

HVAC Career Details

Students can build HVAC careers by attending programs available at post secondary schools and working toward a diploma, certificate or associate degree. Apprenticeships under a licensed HVAC professional are another way to learn on-the-job skills. Education, time on the job, or a combination of the two provide ways for students to prepare for one of the many HVAC careers and seek employment with a company or eventually work as a licensed contractor. Below we list four specific HVAC careers.

AC technician at work fixing unit

AC Technician

Professionals known as AC technicians ensure that the temperature in a controlled climate is just where it needs to be. Their work often occurs in homes and businesses, but they also make sure that temperatures are spot on in places such as hospitals and grocery stores. They may have regular 9-to-5 hours but also be on call for when systems in homes and businesses go out or are in need of emergency repair.

HVAC Engineer

HVAC engineers plan and coordinate every aspect of a system installation. They can conduct performance evaluations of existing systems and recommend improvements to increase efficiency, as well as design climate control systems for new construction.

HVAC installer, smiling, on ladder

HVAC Installer

HVAC installation is the process of putting heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems into residential and commercial properties. HVAC installers need to have mechanical skills and be manually dexterous to put these systems into place. They should be physically strong, capable of troubleshooting, and know how to manage their time since they may have more than one site where they work.

HVAC Mechanic

HVAC Mechanic

Think about your ideal day. Maybe it is relaxing poolside in a beautiful tropical retreat and then retiring to a luxury hotel room for a mid-afternoon siesta. Or perhaps it is whooshing down an Alpine ski run while the sun is out and then spending the evening curled up by a fireplace with hot cocoa. These scenarios are very different but have something in common: after a day in the sun, you get to go inside where it is comfortable and dry. And that would not be possible with HVAC mechanics.

HVAC Technician

HVAC Technician

HVAC technicians work in the installation, maintenance and repair of heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems. They may specialize in specific areas, such as refrigeration systems, and seek certifications to reflect their expertise. They can work for a company or, after obtaining a license if it is required in their state, do contract work on their own. With time and experience on the job, they could move into a supervisory position for acompany.

Refrigeration tech at work

Refrigeration Technician

A refrigeration technician cares for the refrigeration and cooling systems in a home or place of business, such as a restaurant kitchen, grocery store, or a home that is under construction. They know how to install and repair these systems and may be tasked with doing upgrades, replacing parts or working with new units. Refrigeration technicians are usually familiar with many different kinds of systems, and know how to read schematics.

Solar Technician

Thanks to the solar power market's rapid growth, the BLS has noted a positive job outlook for solar PV installers. It predicts that employment will more than double between 2016 and 2026 and that the industry will open up excellent job opportunities for qualified individuals, particularly those who complete photovoltaic training programs.

Wind Turbine Technician

As the demand for renewable and green energy continues to escalate, the number of wind turbines and wind farms will increase. Jobs for wind turbine technicians are the second-fastest growing occupation in the United States.