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According to the BLS, as of November 2019, in 2018, only 1.4% of HVAC mechanics and installers in the U.S. were female.
Regardless of where you live in the country, having access to heating or air conditioning is essential for comfort. There is nothing worse than having a heater go out in the dead of winter, or having an air conditioner on the fritz during the blaze of summer.
HVAC technicians are needed nationwide, but they can be pretty rare depending on where you live.
Then imagine that rarity in a percentage of 1.4! That’s not many at all!
As with any trade, the more unique your skill the more sought after your skill is, and the more potential you have for success.
Let’s break down all the details and get you on your way towards your future in the HVAC industry!
So, What is HVAC?
Let’s start with the basics.
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This encompasses systems in homes, companies, corporations, and more.
These systems provide you with cooling, heating, and cleansing of the indoor air around you.
What Does an HVAC Technician Do?
Some of the duties an HVAC technician performs are:
- Maintenance, repairs, and inspections of existing systems.
- Sales and installations of new systems
- Customer service and record-keeping
- Maintaining equipment and tools
- Staying up to date with current trends and training within the HVAC industry
Being an HVAC technician is anything but boring. Technicians often work at many different venues, from homes to businesses, indoors and outdoors. Whenever and wherever they are needed, HVAC Technicians are on the job.
What Are Some Current HVAC Industry Trends?
As with all construction and building companies right now, HVAC is experiencing an exciting time with new technology.
Some new trends are:
- Smart HVAC: Systems that alert you when they need maintenance or repair. These units allow you to control their functions away from home and even have sensors to make them run better.
- Solar HVAC: Systems that use solar panels to turn power from the sun into electricity. this can mean the system itself runs on solar power, or the unit could be hooked up to an external solar source.
- Geothermal HVAC: Uses pipes buried underground to heat or cool based on the ground temperature.
Staying up to date with trends like these will help you be a successful technician and set you apart from your peers.
History of Women Working Trade Jobs
Women can do ANYTHING.
Throughout history, women were typically left behind from working outside of the home or related fields. Cooking, cleaning, and other domestic jobs were the only things available to a woman at the time. However, during World War II, women flooded the labor workforce out of necessity. With the men overseas fighting in the war, women stepped up to keep the country running during this time of crisis.
This was the era when women took the success of the nation into their own hands. They pushed themselves to learn new skills and ignored the stereotypes and traditions they were raised with.
One icon from this period is Rosie the Riveter. She became an icon for strong, hardworking women.
Female HVAC Trailblazers
Speaking of Rosie the Riveter, California has its modern-day incarnation in Samantha Lott. She expresses herself through pin-up hairstyles and Rosie’s signature bandana to compliment the coveralls she wears to work.
Lott has had to overcome the struggles of being part of a male-dominated industry from the very beginning of her career. But, despite it all, she earned position-specific certificates, an associate’s degree, and is raising her children alone; all while working in her field.
Additionally, her HVAC class of 300 students only had 3 women, including her.
Telese Williams picked up HVAC when her job as a brick mason experienced layoffs.
When Williams began her work in the HVAC field, she had a fear of heights. Despite that, she changed her mindset from fear to competition with her male colleagues and is now seeing success and recognition in her field.
Her confidence grew when her supervisors praised her skills and her fearless attitude towards harder jobs.
She hopes to someday be an instructor or mentor for those who are getting started in the business.
Karen Lamy DeSousa took over owning an HVAC company from her father. At first, she was a bit uncomfortable stepping into a male-dominated field, but now she is a source of knowledge and guidance for fellow females.
DeSousa focuses on the business aspects of the industry, but she writes a blog about the struggles she recognizes that women face in the field. She talks openly about the difficulties of being an owner in a role with such little female representation and aims to help unite like-minded individuals.
Gerri Domenikos is the CEO of an HVAC company in New York. She has a goal to change the way people perceive women in the field.
She connects with job candidates by attending every interview for female HVAC technicians. She makes it a point to let them all know that they are represented, accepted, and supported within her company.
These four women are just a few examples of those who have overcome the struggles within the HVAC field. These women have taken strides to break the mold and plow the way for new potential technicians like you!
Female HVAC Technician Challenges
To get right to its heart, the biggest challenge is the assumptions both clients and colleagues will make, just because a tech may be female.
People will think you’re not as good as, or as strong as your male teammates… but don’t let that stop you! You are just as capable of doing this work as the men are.
DeSousa has an entire blog post devoted to the “obstacles” women may face while doing their work.
She suggests some great bras, technical support systems, and where to find functional and… dare I say… fashionable workwear. Finding items that fit your style and keep you safe and protected may be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.
One of the biggest challenges women face in the HVAC industry is representation. There isn’t a lot out there, so it’s challenging to find role models or support networks.
But it is out there if you know where to look!
Support for Female HVAC Technicians
There is an entire organization in place to support women in the HVAC field! Women in HVACR offer support and nourishment for women in this trade.
- Networking Opportunities
The current president of Women in HVACR, Danielle Putnam aims to break the stereotype that this group is just a social club. She wants to unite the women of this trade so that everyone, no matter where they are on their career path, can succeed and feel supported.
How to Become an HVAC Technician
The job outlook for HVAC technicians is looking good.
According to the BLS, as of November 2019, the number of openings in this field is expected to grow by 13% over the next 5 years alone!
So, what do you need to get started?
- In most states, you need to have a High School diploma (or the equivalent). If you’re still in school, focus on the sciences, mathematics, and shop classes; as these will help you be successful.
- Get an HVAC certificate. The certificate takes less than a year to earn and can teach you diagnostic skills, how to use your equipment, and basic mechanical, electronic, and electrical skills.
- Apprentice with the pros. You’ll gain useful experience, tips and tricks, and useful contacts within the industry. Employers are far more likely to hire you with this experience than if you are fresh out of school with no time in the field.
- Invest in some additional certificates. Give yourself a leg-up in the competition by becoming certified in whatever is currently trending in HVAC technology or similar branches. You may be surprised at how few people take the initiative to get ahead. By becoming a specialist can open up even more doors for you.
The HVAC Industry Needs You
Do you have what it takes to be a woman in the HVAC industry?
The world needs technicians like you: passionate, hardworking, and organized.
Sign up for an HVAC Technician Training program today. YOUR future is in YOUR (well trained, hard-working) hands!