Is HVAC a good career?
Yes, becoming an HVAC technician is a great career if you have an interest in this type of work. HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance is an incredibly stable choice for a long-term career. Air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration are here to stay, and automation will not be replacing HVAC specialists or risking future job prospects. The pay and benefits can be great if you work for larger companies and there is always the opportunity to start your own business.
Heating and cooling needs are also a global trend, and HVAC technicians acquire skills that stay in demand for decades to come. It is also a career that lends itself to relocation, local or international. Someone needs to maintain these systems, even if they happen to be on a remote island in a tropical haven.
So, if the above sounds good so far….read on to learn more about HVAC as a career path.
HVAC Career Overview
Below is a summary of what you can expect when working as an HVAC professional. If it sounds interesting, read on for more in-depth details below.
|Education Required||Vocational school recommended. Some states require additional education.|
|Salary Range||Salary will be dependent on skills, experience, and location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average median salary for this career is $50,590 annually.|
|Job Growth||5% through 2030|
|Certification||EPA certification required for working with refrigerants. Other certificate requirements vary by state.|
|Typical Work||Work with ventilation, heating, and cooling systems. Do repairs, installations, and maintenance in both residential and commercial settings.|
|Employment||Opportunities exist with small or large HVAC companies, management companies for commercial buildings, or self-employment is also an option.|
Is An HVAC Career Right For You?
If you like the prospect of working with your hands and having room to grow in the role or company you choose to join, training as an HVAC technician will be a great career choice.
Typical HVAC technicians spend their workday installing, maintaining, replacing, and repairing indoor climate control systems, including:
- air conditioning systems (cooling systems)
- heating systems
- freezers and more
HVAC techs might work on HVAC systems in residential properties, like single-family homes or apartments, and commercial or industrial buildings, like schools, factories, restaurants, and more. They also support sustainable, energy-efficient living by looking for ways to reduce the impact of climate control systems on the environment.
Some of the green technology that you may need to install includes energy-saving thermostats, heat pumps that reduce carbon emissions, and energy-efficient smart appliances.
Related: Care about the earth? Consider becoming a wind turbine technician!
HVAC Career Pros + Cons
So, let’s dive into the pros and cons being an HVAC technician. While we consider it one of the better career paths, there are some items that might be deal breakers for some considering the path.
HVAC Career Pros
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics consistently reports anticipated job growth for the HVAC industry. HVAC technician employment is expected to increase by 5% through 2030. It is a career choice where contractors and technicians will never be out of work, a desirable benefit for many in an increasingly unreliable global economy.
Depending on the location, those pursuing a job as an HVAC specialist may find more competitive offers than others. States like California, Florida, Ohio, Texas, and Illinois have HVAC skills in much higher demand meaning more job opportunities for you. Service providers here will see better compensation, more varied benefits, and plenty of opportunities for advancement as their network expands.
Learning a trade is an excellent way to create financial stability, and a career in the HVAC industry will continue to one with room to grow. The longer you work in this industry as an HVAC tech, the more you will learn and the more you will be able to make (most HVAC technicians work on an hourly basis and increase these average earnings year by year).
You can easily move anywhere and gain employment. You may have to get a certification of the state you move to based on their requirements, but every state, city, and even country needs HVAC technicians. This means you can live – and work any where your heart desires.
HVAC Career Cons
One of the biggest cons to working as an HVAC tech is the hours. You may be required to work weekends, nights, and overtime. This is most common during peak seasons like the heart of winter and heat goes out or in the sweltering days of summer when the air conditioning breaks.
Working this much can be heard on the body – but there is usually a monetary gain for working more and being on-call.
Unfortunately, the risk of injury is real. Because you may be working in extreme conditions and potentially risky materials and equipment, the risk of injury is higher than some other blue collar jobs. Those that work with refrigerants are at an even higher risk, and are actually required to pass a test to become certified.
What do HVAC technicians do?
HVAC technicians install, maintain, and repair heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to efficiently control heating, cooling, and refrigeration functions.
Daily tasks for HVAC technicians may include:
- Reading blueprints or HVAC equipment specifications
- Installing new HVACR units in local homes and businesses
- Repairing and Installing thermostats, humidistats, timers, and similar controls
- Testing electrical components
- Maintaining systems by replacing filters, cleaning ducts and coils, and more
HVAC careers can vary considerably based on the place of employment and a chosen specialization area. Some companies only handle residential or commercial properties. Others manage heating and cooling, but not refrigeration.
Self-employed specialists might choose their preferred types of jobs and forge ahead into skills development and certifications in that particular niche.
Do I Need Schooling to Be an HVAC Technician?
While formal schooling is not required, it is highly recommended. One of the reasons that HVAC makes an attractive career is the lack of educational requirements: you do not need a college degree to find a job in this dynamic industry.
Many of the skills learned as an entry-level employee or contractor are done on the job.
However, the average technician attends a technical or vocational school to improve their knowledge and experience before applying for jobs.
The location where you want to operate will determine whether you need a unique certification to be qualified as an HVAC technician or licensed to work in the state. Graduates from a vocational school usually earn these certificates as part of their qualification. It is also an advantage that, compared to a four-year degree at a university, attending a trade school training program is a fraction of the price and far less of a time commitment.
HVAC training takes from 6 to 24 months, depending on the program and the school. It should not take years to kickstart a career, unlike many university graduates that struggle to find a footing in their chosen industry. Trade school students tend to find jobs faster and delve into an HVAC career as soon as they receive their certification.
Benefits of trade schools:
- Less time to qualify
- Little to no debt is required to fund studies
- A better career outlook
- Quicker path to higher earnings
Gaining your HVAC certification will make you a much more competitive applicant in the job market. Those who have formal training are more in high demand than those that learn on the job.
HVAC Technician Employment Salaries
You might be looking for a new career to find more lucrative ways to spend your work hours, and HVAC specialists do tend to benefit from the demand in this niche. The starting pay is great compared to the average entry-level job, and that amount should increase as you gain experience.
There are some impressively high earners in the HVAC industry, at almost double the starting pay. The good money is only part of the lure of this field, with no formal education and great employment prospects – it is definitely a career to consider.
Attending a trade school is also a way to make more from the start of your career; on-the-job experience is great, but a real education can set you apart. However, an HVAC technician does not have to attend school to be successful, except in states where licensing or certification remains a basic requirement for finding work and winning contracts.
An HVAC apprenticeship is also highly recommended. This can be critical for learning and help you navigate the career by working with those that have been doing it for many years.
As you progress in the HVAC field, you will l find it is a career path that rewards experience as well as education, and acquiring more skills is possible, even decades into your career. Self-employment also gives the advantage of being able to set your own rates to further maximize earning potential and growth prospects.
As noted by the Bureau of labor statistics, the median HVAC technician salary is $50,590 annually as of 2020.
Related: HVAC vs Electrician: What are the differences?
Earn While Learning On-The-Job with an HVAC Career
There are plenty of reasons to consider a career in HVAC, but one of the biggest selling points is learning on the job while earning money. Attending one of the many HVAC training programs can help you gain experience before seeking employment which should make finding a job easier as well.
HVAC is a good career if:
- You understand the scientific elements behind refrigeration, air conditioning, heating, and ventilation
- You don’t mind traveling to install and maintain systems in various locations
- You are adaptable; every work environment is unique
- You are willing to learn
Final Thoughts. Is HVAC A Good Career?
So, is HVAC a good career for you?
It could be! If everything above sounds interesting to you – then definitely add this job to your list of skilled trades to consider. Those looking for alternatives to college and earning potential long-term will also find this opportunity irresistible. It can provide excellent job prospects while leaving you with little to no student debt.