Approximately 80 percent of US construction companies can’t find qualified workers to work on their projects. There are not enough new construction professionals to replace those who are retiring. This fact is especially true for HVAC technicians.
The HVAC job outlook is healthier than ever before. Read further to find out why HVAC technicians are in high demand. Then you will know how you can position yourself to excel in this field.
What Do HVAC Technicians Do?
The abbreviation “HVAC” stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. HVAC technicians service air systems that regulate air quality inside of a building. HVAC technicians can specialize in either commercial or residential properties.
Some HVAC technicians may specialize in one type of equipment, like air conditioners. Other HVAC technicians may fix or install refrigeration systems. Others might only install new equipment and not repair an existing system.
HVAC expertise can cover either commercial or residential buildings. Sometimes HVAC technicians are independent contractors who own their own business. Other technicians work for bigger general construction companies.
Nationwide HVAC Job Outlook
HVAC careers continue to enjoy secure employment in the US job market.
According to the BLS, jobs for HVAC technicians is set to grow by 13 percent between 2018 and 2028. This rate is faster than the average growth rate for all other job fields.
The US Department of Energy also recently reported that jobs that support energy efficient products are growing. The regulatory environment for these products is changing. Examples of these changes include regulations to ban Freon from new HVAC equipment.
Other motivators include the US government’s growing incentive programs. These programs encourage home and business owners to upgrade to energy efficient systems. These factors make this field one of the faster-growing construction industry disciplines.
HVAC Job Growth: Other Factors
There are plenty of contributing factors that are fueling this high HVAC job growth. Some of these reasons to start an HVAC career include:
Scientific breakthroughs continue to drive innovation in the HVAC industry. This is especially true for equipment used in refrigeration and central air systems. Because of these new discoveries, HVAC systems are becoming more complex and advanced.
As a result, home and business owners will not be able to do their own preventative maintenance. Trained technicians will be the only ones who can perform these services. These qualified workers will also have specific certifications to do repairs as well.
As a result, older HVAC systems will become less efficient and need replacement. Demand for new installations will grow. This new demand will drive business for HVAC companies well into the future.
Opportunities for Skills Advancement
These technological advancements need a certified HVAC workforce to meet future needs. The good news is that there are plenty of training opportunities to meet these needs. These certifications allow HVAC technicians to further their skills and diversify their portfolios.
Some of these certifications include:
Section 608 Technician Certification
Trade schools and apprenticeships now prepare students for Section 608 Technician Certification. The US Environmental Protection Agency governs the Section 608 program. All HVAC technicians must have this certification credential.
All technicians that service refrigerant gas storage equipment must hold this certification. There are our categories of Section 608 certification. HVAC candidates can choose from the following categories:
- EPA Type I Certification – repairing small appliances;
- EPA Type II Certification – repairing high-pressure system equipment;
- EPA Type III Certification – repairing low-pressure system equipment; and
- Universal EPA Certificate- encompasses all three certifications.
After Section 608 certification, candidates can then apply for a professional state license. Most US states want HVAC technicians to get a state license before they begin their new career. There are some US states that only need technicians to have a municipal level license.
Extra HVAC Professional Certifications
There are extra-national certifications that HVAC professionals can earn. Candidates must also pass comprehensive exams to receive these certifications. These certifications set technicians apart from their competitors and make them more marketable.
These national certifications include:
North American Technician Excellence (NATE) Certification
The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is a professional association for HVAC technicians. NATE-certified professionals prove their HVAC skills by passing certification exams. NATE certification is available for servicing and installing the following equipment:
- Air Conditioners;
- Commercial Refrigerators;
- Gas Heating Systems;
- Heat Pumps and
- Oil Heating Systems.
HVAC Excellence Certification
HVAC Excellence Certifications is a national recognition. This certification demonstrates theoretical and practical learning of heating and cooling systems.
HVAC technicians earn Senior Level Certification when they pass four certification tests. Candidates achieve master certification status when they can pass 11 tests.
This certification requires ongoing training to learn about emerging technological changes. This program also trains professionals on the changes in federal and state laws.
The demand for HVAC workers that have these certifications is on the rise. Companies pay technicians with these certifications higher wages. Clients filter their online searches for professionals who have these certifications.
There are many specialties within the HVAC job class that professionals can choose. Not everyone needs to work as a technician to enjoy this HVAC job growth.
There are also HVAC engineers, installers and managers as well. Here are the job specifications for each of these HVAC-related opportunities:
These engineers have many responsibilities in the HVAC field. They can design a system, collaborate with installing technicians and execute repairs.
Engineers either work for HVAC firms or have jobs with government offices. They might also work for equipment manufacturers or engineering firms.
Managers are an important component to supervising HVAC technicians. They do project management for any kind of air quality system repair or installment. These projects include heating, ventilation or air conditioning systems.
HVAC managers are also responsible for meeting customer needs. They coordinate all project components to make sure a project meets its milestones.
Installers repair, install or maintain a building’s ventilation and air conditioning system. These systems are vital to keeping the building occupants comfortable. This includes keeping them warm during the winter months and cool during the summer.
HVAC Soft and Hard Skills That Make Them Experts
HVAC technicians will stay in high demand because they have certain soft and hard skills. These are the skills needed to get the job done right.
Some of these skills include:
HVAC technicians have strong technical skills to maintain a building’s air quality. These technical skills include performing load calculations for cooling and heating systems. HVAC technicians are also competent with basic theories and functions of refrigeration systems.
HVAC technicians know how to design and build interior environmental control systems. For example, they create a building project’s “Basis of Design.” A Basis of Design spells out how a building’s system will become energy efficient.
HVAC technicians have personality traits that help them excel in the field. HVAC technicians know how to understand mechanical details surrounding cooling and heating systems. These professionals are also fit and strong to reposition or lift heavy equipment.
HVAC technicians are also dependable. They are used to receiving emergency calls at odd hours from frantic customers. These pros know how to assure their customers that they know how to fix their problems.
Successful HVAC technicians are also trained to communicate in a clear fashion. These communication skills help clarify technical details to nontechnical audiences. These skills help HVAC technicians close sales.
HVAC Technicians are Aging Out
The average HVAC professional’s age is approximately 54 years old. These professionals will expect to retire within the next ten years.
There are fewer professionals entering the HVAC field then there are retiring. As a result, there will be a significant unmet need for qualified HVAC technicians.
If you are still asking yourself “is HVAC a good career?” Rest easy in knowing that it’s one of the most diverse job fields on the market today.
The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) website has more information about HVAC specialties. NATE can help you plan for one of the many federal certifications. They also have resources on where to find a testing site.
You can also call your local HVAC trade school career center to find out more about the field. Career counselors will be up to date on qualifications needed for HVAC technicians. They can also guide you on the latest technological advances in the HVAC industry.
For more information on the HVAC job outlook, don’t forget to check our website. We have all the latest information on trade and vocational school programs. Let us help jump-start your new career today!