Is HVAC a good career?

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Wondering “is HVAC a good career?” Or, maybe you’re looking for an HVAC career and want to know how to start. HVAC technicians are heating, ventilation, and air conditioning workers. They know the ins and outs of HVAC units and this is a well-respected, in-demand career that could be a smart, lifelong career choice for yourself.

Why?

HVAC is a great career choice for people who like working with their hands and do different jobs every day. The field is growing, so there are plenty of job opportunities. HVAC mechanics and installers earn a great deal of money for doing relatively little school training. An HVAC career is one that you can start doing early career and continue on until retirement. It’ll keep you busy, the time will fly by, and you’ll be working in a very respected profession.

You get to work on a variety of projects and troubleshooting problems. While the field is growing, there usually aren’t layoffs. You’ll never be bored, days will be fleeting, the work will be challenging and you can earn a nice wage. Here’s more about this in-demand career.

What is HVAC?

is hvac a good career

HVAC (the HVAC industry) is short for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The acronym represents a huge industry that includes everything from building heating systems to industrial refrigeration.

Even if you don’t know what HVAC means, you probably have used it in your life—in fact, most homes have either an air conditioner or furnace installed in them!

You may be wondering what types of jobs fall under the category of HVAC technician.

HVAC techs can find positions working on residential units (like furnaces) or commercial ones (like central air conditioning). You’ll work on air conditioning systems and heating systems including their parts and components.

These technicians are responsible for installing and maintaining different types of mechanical equipment such as compressors for cooling units; however, they also install electrical components such as thermostats that control temperatures within buildings depending on how warm or cool we want our homes to feel during certain times each day/year/etc.

The HVAC Career Field

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth through 2031 is expected to be 5% or around 20,000 new jobs. Here are some quick stats on the job:

  • The average salary is $48,630/year
  • You’ll need a postsecondary education to work in this career including long-term on-the-job training
  • There were 394,100 jobs in 2020

The field is growing, so there are plenty of job opportunities.

With the average age of the population getting older and requiring more HVAC services, you’re guaranteed to always have a job as long as you do a good job and treat your clients right.

You may also be paid well by some companies who know that they need to pay top dollar for skilled workers in the industry.

HVAC mechanics and installers earn a great deal of money for doing relatively little school training.

If you’re looking to enter the HVAC and refrigeration industry, you have many avenues to pursue.

There are a multitude of jobs available, including sales and service positions in both residential and commercial settings; equipment installation, repair and maintenance; research and development; management; teaching at technical schools or colleges; manufacturing control systems for HVAC systems; designing new heating, ventilation or air conditioning products.

The work you do might be in:

  • Homes
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Factories
  • Office buildings

You get to work on a variety of projects and troubleshooting problems.

  • You get to work on a variety of projects.
  • You get to use your hands.
  • You get to work with your mind.
  • You get to work with other people.
  • You get to work with machines and electricity, which is pretty cool!

While the field is growing, there usually aren’t layoffs.

One of the benefits of being in a growing industry is that it doesn’t suffer from many downsides like layoffs or job insecurity. This means that you won’t have to worry about losing your job randomly and can feel secure in your position for years at a time.

In addition, as long as you’re willing to move around or improve your skillset (this is something most people who are interested in this career need to do) then it’s likely that you’ll have plenty of opportunities for advancement within this field.

HVAC Training Program

To work in HVAC, you’ll need to go through an education and training program so you can learn, get on-the-job experience working alongside a pro and eventually be able to work independently as a certified HVAC technician.

HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) training programs are designed to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to work as HVAC technicians. These programs typically offer a combination of theoretical instruction and hands-on training to ensure students develop a comprehensive understanding of HVAC systems and their components. Here’s an overview of how HVAC training programs generally work:

  • Enrollment: Interested individuals can enroll in an HVAC training program offered by vocational schools, community colleges, trade schools, or specialized training centers. Some programs may have specific requirements, such as a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Curriculum: HVAC training programs have structured curricula that cover a wide range of topics and HVAC work related to heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. The curriculum may include courses such as HVAC fundamentals, electrical systems, HVAC design principles, refrigeration principles, airflow concepts, troubleshooting techniques, and safety protocols.
  • Classroom Instruction: Students attend classroom sessions where they learn the theoretical aspects of HVAC systems. Instructors provide lectures, presentations, and demonstrations to teach concepts, principles, and industry best practices. Students gain knowledge about HVAC theory, system components, principles of operation, thermodynamics, electrical circuits, and environmental regulations.
  • Hands-On Training: Hands-on training is a crucial component of HVAC programs. Students have access to laboratories or workshops equipped with HVAC equipment and tools. Under the guidance of instructors, they have the opportunity to practice installation, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair techniques on various HVAC systems. This hands-on experience helps develop practical skills and familiarity with industry-standard equipment.
  • Simulated Projects and Real-World Scenarios: Some HVAC training programs incorporate simulated heating and air projects or real-world scenarios to provide students with practical experience. This may involve working on mock HVAC systems, simulating service calls, or participating in field training exercises to replicate real-world work environments.
  • Industry Codes and Standards: HVAC training programs also emphasize compliance with industry codes, regulations, and safety standards. Students learn about proper installation practices, refrigerant handling procedures, electrical safety guidelines, and environmental considerations to ensure they can perform their work safely and ethically.
  • Examinations and Certifications: At the completion of the training program, students may be required to pass written and practical examinations to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Some programs may offer industry-recognized certifications upon successful completion, such as HVAC Excellence, NATE (North American Technician Excellence), or manufacturer-specific certifications.
  • Internship or Apprenticeship Opportunities: Some HVAC training programs may provide internship or apprenticeship opportunities with partnering companies or organizations. These practical work experiences allow students to apply their acquired skills in real-world scenarios, gain additional hands-on training, and build professional connections.

The duration of HVAC training programs can vary, ranging from a few months to a couple of years, depending on the program’s structure and intensity. It’s important to research and choose an accredited HVAC training program that meets industry standards and aligns with your career goals.

Pros and Cons of Working as an HVAC Technician

Pros of HVAC Technician Work

  • You’re always working with your hands. You’ll get dirty, but that’s part of the job.
  • You’re always learning new things—about HVAC and other fields, too. For example, you may need to know how to fix plumbing problems or electrical problems in addition to air conditioning repair and installation.

Cons of HVAC Technician Work

  • You have to deal with dirty equipment that you don’t want to get dirty yourself. It can be gross!

How do you become an HVAC Technician?

So, how do you become an HVAC technician?

An HVAC tech:

  • Must have a high school diploma
  • Complete an HVAC training program or institute
  • Experience (preferred)

What skills do HVAC technicians have?

  • Mechanical and electrical skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communicaation skills
  • Customer service skills
  • Safety practices
  • Attention to detail

There are many different ways to become an HVAC technician, including:

HVAC Technician Training Programs – These programs teach students the skills necessary to install and repair heating and cooling systems. They can be completed at community colleges, technical schools and online through distance learning programs.

Most HVAC technician training programs require you to take math, science and mechanical aptitude courses first before starting the hands-on portion of your education.

In some cases, you may need a high school diploma or GED before enrolling in these programs. You should also check with your state’s licensing board for specific educational requirements in your area before beginning training as they vary from state to state.*

hvac tech

HVAC Technician Apprenticeship Programs – Apprenticeships are available through local unions throughout the country as well as through national organizations like NATEF (the National Association of Trade Exchanges) or GEI (the General Equipment International).

These apprenticeships include both classroom instruction as well as practical experience working with equipment under the supervision of a licensed professional.*

Online Training Courses – Online courses offer students convenient access regardless of location or schedule so long as they have Internet access during class hours.*

Onsite Training Facilities – Local contractors may provide training onsite if desired by offering apprenticeships where students work alongside experienced technicians at their jobsites for hands-on experience

What is an HVAC tech’s career path?

The career path of an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) technician can vary based on individual goals, interests, and opportunities. Here is a general outline of the career path for an HVAC technician:

Education and Training

Begin by completing a high school diploma or equivalent. Many aspiring HVAC technicians pursue post-secondary education or vocational training programs specifically focused on HVAC systems. These programs provide a foundation in HVAC principles, equipment, installation, maintenance, and repair.

Entry-Level Technician

After completing the necessary education or training, start working as an entry-level HVAC technician. This stage typically involves assisting experienced technicians, learning on-the-job skills, and gaining practical experience. Entry-level technicians perform tasks such as routine maintenance, system inspections, filter replacements, and basic repairs.

Experience and Skill Development

As an HVAC technician gains experience, they can expand their knowledge and skills by working on a variety of HVAC systems, troubleshooting complex issues, and handling more advanced repair and installation tasks. Continuous learning and staying updated with industry advancements are essential for career growth.

Specialization

HVAC technicians can choose to specialize in specific areas of the field to enhance their expertise and marketability. For example, they may focus on commercial HVAC systems, residential HVAC systems, refrigeration, energy management, or working with specific types of equipment or technologies.

Certification and Licensing

HVAC technicians can pursue industry-recognized certifications to validate their skills and knowledge. Certifications such as the EPA 608 certification for handling refrigerants, NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certification, or manufacturer-specific certifications can demonstrate proficiency and boost career prospects.

Advancement Opportunities

With experience and additional training, HVAC technicians can progress to roles with more responsibility and higher levels of technical expertise. They may become senior technicians, lead technicians, or supervisors, overseeing teams of technicians and coordinating projects. Some technicians also choose to start their own HVAC businesses and become independent contractors or entrepreneurs.

Continuous Learning and Professional Development

HVAC technology evolves over time, so ongoing professional development is crucial to stay updated with industry trends, new equipment, and emerging technologies. HVAC technicians can attend workshops, seminars, or pursue advanced certifications to expand their skill set and stay competitive in the field.

It’s important to note that career advancement and opportunities can vary depending on factors such as location, job market, employer size, and industry demand. Networking, building professional connections, and staying current with industry associations can also contribute to career growth in the HVAC field.

HVAC is a great career choice if you want to go into demand skilled trades that doesn’t require years of schooling.

HVAC is a great career choice for people who like working with their hands and doing different jobs every day. This can be a good career if you want to go into demand skilled trades that doesn’t require years of schooling.

If you have an interest in the HVAC field and are willing to work hard, don’t worry about going into debt or taking classes, then HVAC may be your best option for finding employment after graduation.

Is HVAC a good career?

Yes, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) can be a good career choice for many individuals. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating the potential of a career in HVAC:

  1. Growing Demand: The need for HVAC professionals is expected to continue growing as climate control and energy efficiency become increasingly important in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. HVAC systems require regular maintenance, repairs, and installations, creating a steady demand for skilled technicians.
  2. Job Security: HVAC is considered a recession-resistant field since people rely on heating and cooling systems regardless of economic conditions. With proper training and experience, HVAC professionals can enjoy job stability and security.
  3. Career Advancement Opportunities: HVAC offers opportunities for career growth and advancement. Technicians can specialize in specific areas, such as commercial HVAC systems, refrigeration, or energy management. They can also advance to supervisory or managerial roles or start their own HVAC businesses.
  4. Hands-On Work: If you enjoy working with your hands and solving technical problems, HVAC can be a fulfilling career. HVAC technicians often work on-site, diagnosing issues, installing equipment, and troubleshooting complex systems, which can provide a sense of satisfaction from solving real-world problems.
  5. Competitive Salary: HVAC technicians can earn a competitive salary, especially with experience and additional certifications. The pay scale can vary depending on factors such as location, level of expertise, and industry specialization.
  6. Skill Development: HVAC requires a combination of technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and customer service skills. As you gain experience and knowledge, you can continue to expand your skill set through ongoing training and education, ensuring you stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in the field.
  7. Job Variety: HVAC professionals can work in a range of settings, including residential, commercial, industrial, or even specialized sectors like healthcare facilities. This diversity provides opportunities to work on different types of projects, learn new technologies, and engage with diverse clients.

It’s worth noting that working in HVAC may involve physically demanding tasks, exposure to various environments, and the need to work during non-standard hours, such as evenings, weekends, and emergencies. Additionally, obtaining proper education, certifications, and licenses is crucial to establishing credibility and advancing in the field.

Ultimately, whether HVAC is a good career choice depends on your interests, aptitude for technical work, willingness to continuously learn, and job market conditions in your area. Researching and speaking with professionals in the industry can provide further insights to help you make an informed decision.

Is a Career as an HVAC Technician worth it?

If you want to get into a skilled trade that doesn’t require years of schooling and can earn a good living, then becoming an HVAC technician should be at the top of your list.

The U.S. Department of Labor places HVAC technicians in their “shortage occupation lists” for 2020, which means the demand for them is expected to grow faster than average.

You won’t find yourself working in vain as an HVAC technician either: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 400 possible job openings per year (aside from contractors) and salaries average $56,000 per year with some positions paying up to $80,000 annually.

Final Thoughts

If you like working with your hands, HVAC is a great career. While it’s not an online career, it’s interesting work that changes daily that’ll keep you on your toes.

You get to work on a variety of projects and troubleshooting problems. While the field is growing, there usually aren’t layoffs in this industry.

If you want to go into demand skilled trades that doesn’t require years of schooling, then an HVAC technician might be worth considering as an option.

Jenn Leach, MBA

Jenn Leach is a Houston-based MBA with over a decade of experience in the banking industry. She writes at Millennial Nextdoor where she writes finance, money, business, and lifestyle content to help millennials create additional income streams online. Join her on Substack at https://jennleach.substack.com.

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