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 2017), the number of openings in HVAC is expected to grow 15 percent nationwide between 2016 and 2026, which is significantly faster than the expected average growth among all U.S. occupations during that time period (just seven percent). And South Dakota is no exception. Projections Central anticipated a 10.4 percent increase in SD-based HVAC openings between 2016 and 2026, which amounts to 120 additional openings.
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; new equipment and systems are more complex than before; and 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 also 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. These risks can be mitigated by proper safety training and precautions.
The BLS (2017) reported that approximately nine percent of HVAC-R technicians were self-employed whereas 64 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 is perhaps no better indicator of industry growth than the availability of openings in the industry. By illustration, Indeed (Dec. 2018) 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. Organizations looking for HVAC technicians in SD included One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Equipment Service Professionals, Smithfield Foods, Avera Health, and Ingersoll Rand.
Most of the listings on Monster (Dec. 2018) were also in the Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas. Postings came from organizations like the US Army, Pepsi Beverages Company, Honeywell, and Source Refrigeration & HVAC Inc.