The HVAC/R industry is growing, creating a huge skilled labor gap that technical schools are reportedly not filling fast enough. Employers are already struggling to find trained technicians. In the next five years, the industry will need over 100,000 new HVAC/R techs and installers. Check out this HVAC/R career path profile to decide if you’ll be one of them. 1
What Is HVAC/R?
HVAC/R stands for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. Technicians who work in this industry install, maintain, repair, and replace the systems that use these technologies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics calls these professionals heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers (49-9021).
HVAC/R training from a trade school is one path to this career. In fact, many employers prefer to hire workers with vocational training because HVAC/R equipment is constantly evolving and becoming more complex. In some states, technicians must also have a license to work. 2
Types of HVAC/R Jobs
Depending on which types of HVAC/R systems you service, you could work in a variety of industries.
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Refrigeration training could land you a job working on refrigerators and freezers in one of several different environments.
- Residential Refrigeration: Refrigeration mechanics install, maintain, test, and repair refrigerators in homes and heath care settings.
- Commercial Refrigeration Technician: Commercial refrigeration technicians install and maintain large commercial refrigeration systems and freezers, such as walk-in units, in grocery stores, factories, and other businesses.
- Industrial Refrigeration Technician: Techs work on industrial refrigeration systems; units can weigh 100 tons or more and operate at temperatures of -60°F to -55°F. They may work on ammonia refrigeration systems. Job sites are usually factories and processing plants.
Techs could also work on the refrigeration systems in semi-trucks, which often transport perishable goods from the point of production to where they are sold.
Heating and Cooling Careers
HVAC service technicians and installers work on the air conditioning and heating equipment in homes and businesses. Wrenches, voltmeters, combustion analyzers, pipe cutters, carbon-monoxide testers, and acetylene torches are some common tools of the trade.
Indoor Air Quality Jobs
Some technicians focus specifically on maintaining indoor air quality by servicing the ventilation equipment in homes, businesses, and schools.
HVAC/R Industry Growth
The HVAC/R industry is set to grow by 14 percent through 2024. This is twice as fast as the national average for all fields. Trained HVAC/R technicians can expect to see the addition of 84,200 jobs during this time. More jobs often mean greater career opportunities and stability for those who choose an HVAC career.
Is HVAC/R a Good Career?
Now that you know where you could work, you may be wondering, “Is HVAC a Good Career?” What about refrigeration and ventilation jobs? How do they fair? Positions in all of these areas of HVAC/R have some perks that make a career in them well worth considering.
Salary & Benefits
HVAC/R technicians can earn as much as $69,000 a year depending on their level of experience and location. For example, the highest paid HVAC/R techs are those who work for automakers. On average, they earn $35.28 an hour. Nationally, the median annual salary for technicians is $45,110, but they often have opportunities to earn overtime pay during the cold and hot seasons.
It’s not uncommon for HVAC/R technicians to enjoy employee benefits. These can range from healthcare to pension plans to compensation for tools to the provision of company vehicles. Some employers even pay for training and HVAC certification.
Career Advancement Opportunities
One sure sign of a promising career is that there is room to advance in the field. Following is a typical HVAC/R technician career trajectory:
Step 1: HVAC/R Installer
Step 2: HVAC/R Service Technician
Step 3: HVAC/R Operations Manager
Step 4: HVAC/R Distribution Manager
Such career advancement is usually the outcome of a combination of training, certifications, hard work, and a commitment to excellence. Those who are especially dedicated to the field could even become their own boss—13 percent of techs are self-employed.
Customers rely on heating in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, and ventilation and refrigeration all year, so HVAC/R techs are always in demand. Many contractors and manufacturers offer or require annual service contracts, ensuring reliable jobs. Since the equipment must be installed, maintained, and repaired on site, there is no threat of jobs being outsourced to other countries or to factory robots.
Active Schedules & Satisfying Jobs
HVAC/R technicians tend to have active jobs that take them to several locations throughout the week. They might install a heater in a home one day, the furnace in a school the next, and the boiler in a factory the day after that. Self-employed techs have even more freedom to choose where they spend each day.
Wherever they work, technicians can take pride and satisfaction in making sure their customers are comfortable indoors no matter what the weather is like outside.
Where Are the HVAC/R Jobs?
HVAC/R has a promising career profile, but where could professional training in this field take you? Learn about some of the reputable HVAC companies that are partnering with The Refrigeration School to help new technicians land jobs after they complete their training.
Andrew’s Refrigeration Inc.
Andrew’s Refrigeration Inc., a commercial and residential service company, was established in 1996. Andrew’s trained and certified technicians specialize in many areas including refrigeration, HVAC, ice machines, and ultra-low temperature units. Andrew’s Refrigeration is focused on honesty, quality, and customer satisfaction.
Established in 1992, Retronix provides staff augmentation, flexible workforces, and direct-hire services throughout the global semiconductor industry. Retronix is the premier third party provider in areas of equipment installation, de-installation, equipment relocation, equipment decommissions, equipment sales, and refurbishment. One of Retronix’s strongest assets is the ability to quickly mobilize teams of engineers and technicians to meet projects of any size.
Custom Cooling & Plumbing
Founded in Arizona in 2001, Custom Cooling and Plumbing is one of the most trusted HVAC/Plumbing companies in the Western United States. For more than 15 years, Custom Cooling and Plumbing has performed a wide range of both commercial and residential work. They strive to maintain the highest standards, honor commitments, meet tough deadlines, and exceed expectations at all levels.
Filling the Skills Gap
As you can see, HVAC/R can be an excellent career. HVAC/R technicians often enjoy substantial job growth, pay, and career advancement opportunities. They can also find satisfaction in keeping their customers comfortable and helping to fill the skills gap the country currently faces.
1 – http://www.achrnews.com/articles/130625-over-100000-new-hvacr-techs-installers-needed-in-next-seven-years
2 – https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-4