Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians work on systems that regulate and move heated and cooled air throughout residential and commercial buildings from homes to offices to indoor stadiums. If you’re considering working as an HVAC technician, you may be wondering what a career in this industry can look like and its potential benefits and drawbacks. Explore the pros and cons to find out if this job is right for you and take steps toward your career goals.
Pros of a Career in HVAC
1. Great Job Outlook and Compensation
Working as an HVAC technician can provide you with job security, the potential for advancement, and a competitive wage. This role is in high demand, and because of the nature of the work, a technician often has a secure position in their chosen field.
People will be using refrigerators, heating systems, and air conditioners well into the foreseeable future, so HVAC employment prospects are expected to grow for a long time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HVAC technician employment is expected to increase by 5 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Additionally, the continued growth of both commercial and residential construction and service contracts factor into this increase. Service contracts help stabilize the workload and income for technicians year-round by scheduling maintenance appointments.
HVAC technicians make an average wage of $20 an hour and have opportunities to move up the ladder to higher-paying positions with additional training. The BLS reported that the median yearly salary in 2021 was $48,630, the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,210, and noted that pay increases as technicians learn to do more. It follows that completing a training program will help your job and salary prospects.
2. Work and Live Almost Anywhere
HVAC technicians can work on heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems across the entire United States. The growing demand for technicians and the commonness of HVAC systems allow you to work and live basically anywhere.
However, according to salary and other factors, some of the best states for HVAC technicians to work in include New York, California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Alaska, District of Columbia, and Hawaii.
3. Get Paid While You Learn the Job
As an HVAC apprentice, you will receive extensive training on the job after you complete your training program. During this time, you will earn about half of the wage your journeyman counterpart receives.
You’ll receive pay raises as you master more and more skills of the job and become an experienced technician. Eventually, you can become like those who taught you when you were first starting out.
4. Make a Difference in the Environment and the Lives of Customers
Many of the operations that HVAC technicians perform are aimed at improving the efficiency of HVAC systems and reducing the negative effects their use has on the environment, like releasing greenhouse gases and consuming electricity.
Some of the tasks to boost energy efficiency and support the environment include:
- Replacing old filters with new ones
- Installing dehumidifiers where needed
- Installing thermostats that save energy and money
- Installing heat pumps to help reduce carbon emissions
Efficient, properly functioning HVAC systems reduce negative impacts on the environment, and they can also save homeowners and consumers money on their energy bills and provide optimal comfort in their home and work settings.
5. HVAC Technicians Are Not Threatened By Automation and Outsourcing
Many industries are increasingly threatened by outsourcing and automation, such as manufacturing, IT, and customer service.
This isn’t the case with HVAC. Homes and businesses will always need real, local HVAC technicians and mechanics to install and service heating, cooling, and ventilation systems.
Technology may be becoming a bigger factor in these systems and will continue to optimize how they work, but real humans with licenses are still needed to ensure they’re running safely, help inform consumers about HVAC products, and manage installation and maintenance.
6. Relatively Easy to Start Your Own Company
Once you have enough experience to be able to perform HVAC services on your own, it’s relatively easy to start your own company. You just have to comply with the requirements of the location where you want to provide services, and then you’re in business.
7. Typically Receive Full Benefits
Most HVAC companies provide their employees with full benefits, including medical insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, and the option to participate in a 401k plan. In addition to the competitive salary, the benefits typically provided to HVAC technicians will help you and your family deal with both expected and unexpected expenses.
8. Ability to Help Others
HVAC is a service industry, which means the main goal of working in HVAC is to help others. Every job you complete helps people work and live in cleaner and more comfortable air. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning are necessities to keep people safe and comfortable, so you can go home at the end of every day knowing you made a positive impact.
From Novice to Expert: Your Journey to HVAC Excellence Starts Here!
Develop a deep understanding of HVAC systems, earn certifications, and position yourself as a sought-after professional in the ever-evolving world of climate control.
Cons of a Career in HVAC
1. HVAC Occasionally Has Long Hours
Like many other workers, HVAC technicians have times of the year that are busier than others. HVAC technicians commonly work overtime during peak heating and cooling seasons, especially in the summer. This may require you to work long hours outside in the heat, depending on where you live.
2. HVAC Has Occupational Safety Hazards
Working as an HVAC technician does involve some risk of physical harm. HVAC technicians often work with heavy equipment, extreme heat and cold, and are occasionally exposed to hazardous materials.
To improve your knowledge and ability to safely handle potentially dangerous equipment and materials, you can earn many different certifications. For example, those who work with refrigerants are required to pass a test given by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Certifications help make HVAC work environments safer, but they cannot completely eliminate the risk of injuries on the job.
3. The Learning Never Stops
This could be a pro or a con, depending on how you look at it. The field of HVAC is always evolving with new technologies and products to learn about. If you want to be very successful, you have to keep building new skills even after you’ve gotten your license. This trade is known to be challenging, and each day brings something new to learn and a new problem to solve, but this will only increase your sense of achievement, competence, and success.
Become an HVAC Technician at Erie Institute of Technology
Erie Institute of Technology is a leading trade school in Erie, Pennsylvania, and is proud to train aspiring HVAC/R technicians for a successful career in this skilled trade.
If a four-year college program is not something you’re interested in, we offer a variety of skilled trades school training programs, including a 12-month HVAC/R technology program.
Invest in your education and your future with this four-term program that will prepare you to install, repair, and maintain electronic and mechanical components that keep HVAC systems up and running.
Apply online today or visit our website to learn more about our programs.
Ross Aresco is the CFO of Erie Institute of Technology. Erie Institute of Technology (EIT) is an Erie Pennsylvania technical/trade school providing training programs for medical, computer, electronics, manufacturing, and technology careers. EIT offers programs in many different areas to suit your interests and talents.