Occupational Demand for HVAC Workers in South Dakota
The demand for HVAC technicians nationwide and within the Mount Rushmore State continues to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Oct. 2017), the number of openings in HVAC is expected to grow 15 percent nationwide between 2016 and 2026—significantly faster than the expected average growth among all U.S. occupations during that time period. And South Dakota is no exception. Projection Central anticipated a 14 percent increase in SD-based HVAC openings between 2014 and 2024.
The growth of the HVAC industry in South Dakota and beyond is fueled by several factors. New buildings require the installation of climate control systems. Also, new equipment and systems are more complex than before. Homeowners and building managers are focused on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, requiring the replacement, retrofitting, or repair of older systems.
HVAC and HVAC/R technicians work in a variety of job sites. Some sites, such as hospitals or other medical facilities, have stringent temperature and humidity guidelines. Factories, offices, schools, stores, and homes all have different needs. Some sensitive components (e.g., heat exchangers) are located outdoors. That said, adverse weather conditions don’t stop the need for repairs or maintenance. Sometimes indoor work is uncomfortable when the system has stopped working, creating either a very hot or freezing environment until the job is completed. Technicians may find themselves working in small or cramped areas. It’s worth adding that HVAC workers have a higher-than-average rate of injury, including electrical shocks, burns, and other injuries related to moving heavy equipment.
The BLS (Oct. 2017) reported that approximately nine percent of HVAC/R technicians were self-employed. Sixty-four percent were employed by plumbing, heating, and air conditioning contractors. The remaining workers were employed by schools or retail and wholesale organizations. Most of the technicians worked full time. Depending on peak seasons, technicians may work evenings, weekends, and other overtime hours.
There’s perhaps no better indicator of industry growth than the availability of openings in the industry. By illustration, Indeed (November 2017) listed over 100 openings for HVAC/R workers in South Dakota. Most were for workers in the Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas, with a scattering in other locations. Several advertised rates greater than the averages for their base cities. At least one company specifically wanted an apprentice, and others stated they would train applicants. Most of the listings on Monster (November 2017) were also in the Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas. Sears, for example, offered a $2,500 sign-up bonus for an HVAC/R technician. Notably, the Sioux Falls area is the largest metropolitan area in South Dakota, followed by the Rapid City metro area. The next largest cities are:
Each of these cities boasted at least one HVAC job opening posted on Indeed or Monster as of November 2017.