Why HVAC Is a Good Career Choice: What Youll Do as a Technician and How Much Youll Make

March 22, 2023

If you are interested in starting a new, successful career, consider one in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. HVAC is an excellent place to start, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts the continued growth of the industry by 13 percent by 2028.

People interested in HVAC quickly discover why these careers are growing so quickly. One involves homeowners using government tax credits to upgrade to more energy-efficient comfort systems. It's also important to consider R-22 Freon® coolant, which impacts any system still using it. Finally, there’s the ever-changing real estate market exacerbated by a property shortage that’s driven an increase in new construction homes.

A career that's increasingly in demand is an HVAC technician. Learn more about their skill set, how to become one and about how much you can expect to make.

What Does It Mean to Be an HVAC Technician?

A HVAC technician should be able to repair, install and maintain heating and cooling systems. Most work with both homeowners and business owners. And, most important, you’ll receive a comprehensive education about:

  • Air conditioners
  • Furnaces
  • Mini-splits and heat pumps
  • Thermostats and home zoning
  • Indoor air quality equipment like air filters and air purification systems

Some are HVAC-R technicians, which means they also work with refrigeration.

Is There a Shortage of HVAC Technicians?

Experienced HVAC technicians are increasingly sought after because of an industry shortage of labor. This discrepancy is the result of several factors, such as more retirements and competition from other industries. Many younger people also pursue college degrees as opposed to a licensed trade like HVAC.

Is HVAC a Hard Career?

While HVAC often has you on your feet, it can also be very rewarding. As a technician you'll be expected to occasionally:

  • Work in unpleasant settings, like tight or dirty spaces.
  • Work in inclement weather since HVAC systems are usually outdoors.
  • Work evenings, weekends and overtime around peak demand.

One of the biggest misconceptions about HVAC is that it’s a blue-collar career. In reality, you need an extensive skill set, specialized education and continuous recertification.

It’s a great career choice if you want to:

  • Avoid large amounts of student debt.
  • Stay active rather than remain inside an office.
  • Have job security because the HVAC industry can't be outsourced.
  • Gain the experience you need to start your own successful business.

Is HVAC a Demanding Job?

You can't fully escape stress when on the job. HVAC technicians service complex equipment and must sometimes deal with cramped or uncomfortable working conditions. The proper experience and tools are helpful when resolving these concerns. What’s more, paid training and a consistent schedule help people in the HVAC industry avoid some of the most common triggers of work-related stress.

Is HVAC Hard on Your Body?

Lifting heavy items and performing repetitive motions are two common reasons HVAC can be physically demanding. Accessing and servicing large equipment can be tiring. HVAC work can be very physical, and you may benefit from a healthy diet and exercise regimen to remain as healthy as possible.

Are HVAC Careers at Risk Because of a Recession?

While no job is guaranteed to survive a recession, HVAC is consistently avoiding the worst of economic downturns due to the essential nature of heating and cooling equipment. Repairs and installation will always be required, , which means professionals in HVAC can often find work across the country.

Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?

As HVAC systems continue to advance, technicians and installers will become even more important. Newer models of heating and cooling systems need less energy or generate it from renewable sources like solar and wind. Greener HVAC equipment will continue to grow in popularity, as will the need for certified HVAC technicians.

How to Become an HVAC Technician

To learn everything you need to become an HVAC technician, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED on top of professional training. Other, more specialty (and higher paying) HVAC careers are dependent on additional education or certifications.

You can secure the needed certifications by taking classes at a community college or trade school. The time it takes to become an HVAC technician varies from program to program, which is typically six months to two years. An HVAC company will sometimes also require NATE certification. Standing for North American Technician Excellence, this influential accreditation expands your technical knowledge to maximize your capabilities.

While some elements of an HVAC career could be learned on your own, getting the necessary education means a combination of classroom programs with on-site training. At the same time, HVAC careers don't involve complex math. While you'll need to know some basic math, the bulk of an HVAC professionals’ skill set utilizes critical thinking, used to identify problems and ensure quality installation.

Career Explorer reports that HVAC techncians who are familiar with tablets, electronics and troubleshooting will be in big demand as equipment becomes capable of even more.

Another key perk of working in HVAC is little to no student debt.

According to Midwest Technical Institute, enrolling in a technical or trade school typically costs around $15,000. A community college is usually around $5,000 annually. By comparison, the standard student debt for a bachelor’s degree is $25,921.

Your Day-to-Day Schedule as an HVAC Technician

The daily schedule may vary depending on where you work. If you primarily offer repair services, you may work early, late or be on call throughout the day. For projects more relevant to new construction, you will be more likely to keep to a set schedule for regular business hours.

As a technician, you'll visit many different homes and businesses to perform repair, maintenance or installation work. Complex jobs may need more time and resources than others, so the number of calls you can go on may vary.

As stated previously, you should be comfortable working outdoors in severe weather as well as in difficult-to-reach places. If you work in a customer-facing role, strong customer service skills are always welcome.

Is a Career in HVAC Profitable? Average Salary for HVAC Technicians and Other HVAC Careers

With the constant growth in HVAC careers, your salary should reflect that. The national average salary for an HVAC technician is $49,242, according to ZipRecruiter. Professionals with specialized skills could make between $56,600 and $68,000. Then again, salaries may fluctuate based on your location and its cost of living. Experienced HVAC technicians transitioning to a position in management in a high-paying state could make upward of six figures.

Along with starting your own business, there are several other ways to advance your career. These include:

  • HVAC manager, $72,515 average salary
  • HVAC service manager, $71,176 average salary

Types of HVAC That Pay More

There is a lot of room for specialization in the HVAC industry, and continuing education and certification opportunities open doors for niche positions with great salaries. For example, master engineers with project management or custom system design experience could receive six-figure salaries. Larger salaries are also more likely if you have experience with advanced equipment like commercial HVAC systems, geothermal heat pumps or radiant in-floor heating.

What States Need HVAC Workers the Most

HVAC technicians are in high demand across the United States, but even more so in Florida, California, Texas, New York and Illinois. According to hvacclasses.org, these states need the greatest number of HVAC professionals and are experiencing enormous growth in the construction industry. Here’s why:

 
  • Florida: Hurricanes, education and healthcare facilities.
  • California: Wildfires, transportation, energy and utility projects.
  • Texas: Hurricanes, energy, utility and other infrastructure upgrades.
  • New York: Residential and infrastructure updates.
  • Illinois: Companies relocating to the Chicago area.

Where HVAC Technicians Will Be in High Demand in the Future

Projections Central, who develops long-term occupational projections, expects these states to have the greatest demand for technicians by 2028:

  1. Utah, 31.1%
  2. Colorado, 29.7%
  3. Nevada, 27.9%
  4. Arizona, 21.4%
  5. Iowa, Oregon and Montana, 18.5%
  6. Arkansas, 16.3%
  7. Florida, 16.2%
  8. South Carolina, 16%
  9. Texas, 15.9%
  10. Idaho, 15.7%
  11. Washington, 15.6%
  12. North Carolina, 15.5%
  13. Tennessee, 15.2%
  14. Wyoming, 14.3%
  15. Nebraska, 13.9%
  16. Indiana, 13.8%
  17. North Dakota, 13.8%

Here’s where the highest number of new positions during that time frame are expected to be:

  1. Florida, 5,420
  2. Texas, 5,530
  3. California, 4,100
  4. North Carolina, 2,510
  5. New York, 2,290
  6. Colorado, 2,000
  7. Ohio, 1,550
  8. Pennsylvania, 1,510
  9. Virginia, 1,500
  10. Tennessee, 1,360
  11. Washington, 1,290
  12. Georgia, 1,270
  13. New Jersey, 1,170
  14. Utah, 1,170
  15. South Carolina, 1,1060
  16. Indiana, 940
  17. Maryland, 820
  18. Missouri and Arizona, 810
  19. Michigan, 780

Weather and a healthy economy should spur continued growth in these states, according to hvacclasses.org.

Grow Your HVAC Career with Central Heating & Plumbing

HVAC technicians are needed everywhere, including in New Castle/[targetlocation]. To learn more about our openings, visit our careers page or call us at 724-401-1843 today!