Is HVAC a good career choice?By My Service Depot on Thursday, October 4, 2018
Should you go into the HVAC field? We've taken a look at career prospects for those in the industry.
If you’re reading this, perhaps you’re considering HVAC trade school and want to make sure it’s worth the time and financial investment. You’re probably asking yourself, “Is HVAC a good career choice?” This is a smart question to ask about any career (unless someone’s offered you a paid movie-watching or dessert-tasting job—in these cases just say “yes” before they change their mind).
Now, we may have a little bias, but we see plenty of solid evidence that HVAC offers valuable career opportunities for new technicians and others within the field. HVAC salaries and the demand for new workers grows daily. Soon, there probably won’t be enough workers to fill these needs.
For these reasons, we recommend HVAC careers to new employees entering the workforce as well as experienced workers who decide to make the switch from another career. HVAC can provide you with the flexible, rewarding vocation you’re looking for. Here’s why.
Growing Industry Demand
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC as a whole is growing “much faster than the average for all occupations.” The BLS projects a 15 percent increase between 2016 and 2026, which means more jobs will open soon in the HVAC field and a more pronounced need for workers right now.
The industry itself is growing, also. Some states and types of HVAC work in particular are seeing strong demand. Commercial and residential HVAC both represent high-demand services, but increasingly complex commercial systems often require more highly-trained HVAC technicians. As construction continues, more and more personnel are needed who can conduct repair and installation work.
Compensation and Benefits
The BLS reports that median HVAC technician salaries came in at a healthy $22.64 per hour and $47,080 per year as of 2017. Compared with the median American worker’s pay of $44,564 annually, HVAC personnel get paid about $2,500 more.
Since HVAC offers better-than-average compensation, it makes a sensible career choice for workers wondering how they’ll pay their bills. (Earlier this year, we conducted a more in-depth examination of HVAC pay rates.)
Types of HVAC Careers
The two primary types of HVAC careers are HVAC technician and dispatcher. Both present great opportunities for people looking to break into the field.
To get started, you’ll usually need specialized training and education in both classroom and work settings. Traditionally, there were technicians who learned their skills through on-the-job training, but the growing complexity of the HVAC field is making this less and less common. New HVAC workers usually receive active career training in educational settings before starting on the job.
As a technician, you’ll be responsible for maintaining, installing, and repairing heating, air quality, and refrigeration systems. You can work in a variety of different environmental conditions, including both indoors and outdoors. You’ll typically work in both residential and in commercial settings or specialize in just one of those arenas. With these systems becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated, you’ll have plenty of developments in the field to keep up with through additional training.
For people who enjoy working in a variety of settings with technologies and systems almost everyone uses daily, the HVAC technician role offers a challenging and rewarding career.
Working in dispatch allows you to take on an essential role within the HVAC world. Dispatchers coordinate and schedule the operations of a busy HVAC business, letting technicians know where they’re needed and when. If you have good people skills, thrive under pressure, and have a keen interest in HVAC, then this could be the right career for you. During busy seasons and crazier shifts a dispatcher who can stay calm and manage difficult customers is a valuable asset to the rest of the HVAC team.
According to PayScale, dispatchers earn an average of around $15 an hour—though many workers earn much more than that, too. (Learning to use specialized HVAC software can make you more valuable to potential employers.) With solid earnings and job market opportunities, dispatching represents another great job option for people with an interest in the field.
Ready To Work
If you’re serious about a career in HVAC, it’s a good idea to pursue education and training. Most employers expect a certification before they’ll hire you (although a few will hire candidates with a high school diploma or GED). A license is typically required too. Your specific requirements will depend on the state you work in and what your employer needs.
The North American Technical Excellence (NATE) organization is the most prominent certification body for HVAC personnel. To work with refrigerants, you’ll also need a federal certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A training program can help you get the certifications and education you need.
Once you’ve met the training and certification requirements you’ll need for the job, you’re ready to start serving customers in this exciting and challenging industry. It’s worth it. Well, until that dessert-tasting opportunity comes along, at least.