HVAC Training 101: Your Potential Career Path

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Last updated: 
April 14, 2024

HVAC Training: A Promising Career Path with Excellent Job Prospects

The HVAC Industry Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS predicts that nearly 40,000 jobs will be added in the industry during that decade, with opportunities across the United States.

Advantages of an HVAC Career

1. Outstanding Job Outlook

The 14 percent job growth expected through 2024 is a top reason for considering HVAC training.

2. Good Pay

The median income is $45,910 per year based on an hourly wage of $22.07, according to BLS statistics.

3. Mobility

The HVAC sector is experiencing job growth across the country, with the most job openings east of the Mississippi and in the South. Wages are higher in places like North Dakota and Montana due to the scarcity of trained HVAC professionals. Additionally, there are tens of thousands of job openings outside the US for those interested in working abroad.

4. Job Diversity

While most jobs are in installation, repair, and maintenance, the HVAC industry also needs managers, sales professionals, system designers, and customer service representatives.

5. Accessibility to the Career

HVAC training programs range from 6 to 24 months, with tuition costs averaging $6,000 to $9,000 for a basic certificate program and $17,000 to $30,000 for an Associate's degree. Many local trade schools and community colleges offer HVAC programs.

6. Innovation

The HVAC industry is experiencing rapid innovation in technologies such as variable-speed compressors, smart homes, geothermal heating and cooling, and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems.

Considerations and Challenges

  • Some HVAC program graduates may find it challenging to secure their first job without experience. Seeking training from a school that offers internships or apprenticeships can help.
  • The job can be physically demanding, with long work hours during peak times in summer and winter.
  • Many local heating and air conditioning companies offer 24-hour emergency service, which may require technicians to work odd hours.
  • Career-advancement opportunities may be limited for technicians working for small, local heating and cooling companies compared to those working for large service companies.

Essential Skills for HVAC Technicians

HVAC technicians should be comfortable using hand tools and working with mechanical systems. Specific skills, which can be acquired through HVAC training programs, include:

  • EPA 608 certification and R-410a refrigerant certification
  • Climate control systems
  • Thermostatic controls
  • Electrical wiring
  • Air conditioning and heat pump systems
  • Boilers
  • HVAC troubleshooting, installation, maintenance, and repair
  • Refrigerant system recharging
  • Warm-air heat systems
  • Energy-efficient/green HVAC technology
  • Refrigeration systems and control (for those interested in working in refrigeration)

Becoming NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certified is also recommended, as it demonstrates mastery of the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the HVAC industry.

Best Options in the Field of HVAC

According to the BLS, more than 294,000 people work in the HVAC industry, with the majority employed as HVAC-R mechanics and installers. The following table breaks down the top HVAC occupations:

OccupationNumber of Employees
HVAC-R mechanics and installers212,810
HVAC direct sales9,410
HVAC wholesale sales8,070
Commercial & industrial HVAC service6,170
Educational facilities5,620

These HVAC occupations account for 78% of all jobs in the industry. Many HVAC technicians go on to start their own businesses, which is an attractive career path for those with practical experience and a business education.

Take the Next Step

If you're interested in pursuing HVAC training, research online for training schools or contact your local community college to learn about available programs in your area. Share this information with friends and followers on social media who may also be considering their career options.

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