Choosing a career path is a difficult prospect. If you’re torn between HVAC vs welding, you might be wondering which field is more affordable to enter or which option offers better prospects. Finding the answers to these questions is hard, but this guide can help you decide whether to pursue a career as a welder or as an HVAC technician.
You’ll see that each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, but the choice is ultimately dependent upon your interests and skills. Learn everything you need to know to make an informed decision between a career in welding or a career in HVAC technology.
Is HVAC Better Than Welding?
HVAC might be better than welding if you are solely concerned with salary, but there are many other factors you should consider, too. When you’re contemplating welding vs HVAC, you should also take into account the minimum requirements, the projected job growth, and how easy it is to jumpstart a career in each of these fields. Learn about each of these factors to decide for yourself whether or not HVAC is a better career path than welding.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC technicians earn a median annual salary of $48,630 and about $23.38 per hour. This is compared to the median annual salary of a welder, who makes $47,010 or $22.60 per hour. This annual difference of $1,620 comes out to about $135 per month. It’s not a massive difference, but it may be enough to factor into your decision. Keep in mind that these additional earnings must be compared against the cost of an HVAC career, though — read on to find out which career path is more affordable to pursue.
According to BLS, career prospects look different for welders and HVAC technicians, too. While the former has a projected job growth of 8% according to BLS, the latter sees projected job growth of only 5%. This means that welding jobs are growing at an average pace while HVAC jobs are growing at a slower-than-average pace.
This statistic is derived from the number of job openings in each field that were reported in 2020. There were 418,200 welding job opportunities reported, whereas there were only 380,400 HVAC job openings. Job prospects vary greatly based on your location and experience level, but this indicates that prospects are better in the welding industry.
Cost to Start Career
You might also wonder how much it costs to start a career in each of these industries. This depends on the cost of the educational program you enroll in as well as the cost of training — and both of these factors depend on your location. A cursory web search reveals that costs can be as low as $3,000 and as high as $20,000. The wide range of this figure illustrates just how many options there are for education and training programs.
The approximate cost of education for HVAC technicians is similarly wide-reaching. An online search indicates that the cost may be as little as $1,200 or as much as $15,000. Which end of the spectrum your costs end up on may be determined by whether you choose a private school or a more affordable program like one offered through a public community college.
It’s worth questioning, too, whether welding vs HVAC is an easier career path. If you’re trying to decide whether to become a welder or HVAC technician, there are several items you should take into consideration to determine the difficulty of each.
There is no major difference in the length of time required to become a welder or HVAC technician. Similarly, in most cases, the educational requirements are similar. Some states may require licensure for one profession and not the other, but with this exception, neither HVAC vs welding is more difficult than the other.
Typical Working Hours
How many hours does somebody working in welding vs HVAC make? A full-time welder will typically work 40 hours per week, and if they only work part-time, they may work as few as eight to 30 hours per week. HVAC technicians enjoy similarly standardized hours — 40 per week for full-time work, and eight to 30 for part-time work.
It should be noted that working hours for both professions depend on whether a welder or HVAC tech is employed by a company or working for themselves. If the latter is true, they may work longer hours because they are not subject to overtime laws.
Risk of the Job
Some people say that welding is more difficult than HVAC work because it has a higher incidence of on-the-job injuries. Both of these fields have an elevated risk of injury, though, due to the physically strenuous nature of the work. To determine which is riskier, then, you should assess your individual suitability for each career.
Can you handle long hours spent in a full-body suit, exposed to the high heat that’s a byproduct of welding? If so, you may be a good fit for this career. Would you prefer a less-risky career path that typically features lower temperatures? If so, HVAC may be the better option. It’s always risky to pursue a career that you aren’t physically suited to, so it’s important to honestly decide which path is best.
What Are the Minimum Requirements for Welding vs HVAC?
Any prospective welder or HVAC technician should also be aware of the minimum requirements associated with each position. This includes the educational requirements, licensure requirements, and physical requirements that you must meet in order to enter this career field. If you’re not sure which path is the better option, consider the following four areas of requirements that you must satisfy if you want to thrive in either of these industries.
Minimum Educational Requirements
The minimum educational requirements for HVAC vs welding are not markedly different. Most welding jobs require that you complete a training program, and most HVAC jobs also require the completion of a training program. Some states or employers may impose additional requirements on job candidates and expect licensure or other additional educational requirements.
Generally, though, the requirements for these career paths are not significantly different. In most cases, you can jumpstart your career as a welder or HVAC technician after completing a special training program.
Requirements for Licensure
Requirements for licensure should also be taken into account when choosing between an HVAC vs welding career. These requirements vary by state. To work as an HVAC technician, for example, some states require a general contractor’s license, while others require a license specifically for HVAC technicians, and others require no licensure at all.
Licensure requirements for welders are similarly different between states. Some states have stringent standards that demand proof of training and hours worked, while others do not maintain any specific requirements for licensure for welders at all. How difficult it is to pursue a welder or HVAC technician career thus depends on the individual licensure requirements in the state you live in.
Insurance and Bonding Requirements
The insurance requirements of HVAC vs welding careers should also be taken into account. For both career paths, the minimum requirement for insurance depends on whether you are working for an employer or working for yourself. If you are employed by a company, that company will typically assume the liability and provide insurance for your work.
If you are self-employed, though, you will typically be responsible for your own insurance — and in some cases, your state may impose minimum insurance requirements for contractors. Failure to carry coverage that satisfies these requirements may result in a fine or a strike against your license in states where licensure is required.
Regardless of your state’s requirements, though, you should be sure to invest in insurance if you are a self-employed welder or HVAC technician. Without a general liability policy, you could be held liable for any potential damage to a client’s premises or physical injuries that result from your work.
Though it typically is not required, you should also consider investing in bonding. A surety bond insurance policy may make you more attractive to prospective clients because it guarantees that you will complete the job or your client will be reimbursed.
Welding and HVAC technology are both physically demanding careers. If you choose to work as a welder, you will be faced with extremely hot temperatures throughout the day, and you must wear heavy-duty personal protective equipment. This can be uncomfortable for people who are sensitive to heat.
Working as an HVAC technician doesn’t necessarily spare you from the scorch of the sun, though. Indeed, you will probably spend a lot of time outside as an HVAC tech. You can also expect to lift heavy objects and bend over often throughout the workday — both of which can be challenging if you aren’t physically able to do these tasks.
Is There Welding in HVAC?
If the HVAC vs welding choice is too difficult, you may wonder whether you can combine these interests — and if so, can you use your welding skills in the HVAC industry? Though such a position is more niche than a traditional welder or HVAC technician job, the answer is yes — there is welding in HVAC. Consider the following examples of career opportunities that may allow you to put both of these skill sets to use.
HVAC Welding Technician
There are some jobs available in the manufacturing sector of the HVAC industry that do involve welding. These jobs require that you have experience in both the welding and HVAC industries, and the job itself usually involves performing manual welding tasks on parts of an HVAC system.
Although many welding tasks have now become automated, there are still several tasks that must be completed by a human technician in order to ensure precision and accuracy. If you possess intersecting HVAC and welding skill sets, a job like this may be a great fit.
HVAC repairman is another potential job opportunity for those who don’t want to choose between HVAC vs welding. As a repairman, you’ll be tasked with identifying the root of the problem when an HVAC system is malfunctioning. In some cases, the problem is a broken piece or a piece that needs to be repaired.
In order to repair or replace the part in question, it may be necessary to weld the pieces together. If so, your expertise in both welding and HVAC repair will come in handy.
Which One Should I Choose: Welding vs HVAC?
The question remains — is it better to pursue a career as a welder or HVAC technician? There is no clear single answer to this question, and either of these careers may be best for a different person. In order to determine which one is the right choice, you need to seriously consider what interests you the most.
Do you want to learn how to use a welding torch and watch as pieces of metal are joined together? Do you gain more satisfaction from the idea of helping families keep their homes’ climates controlled? You must also consider what your priorities are. If you are motivated only by a job’s salary prospects, you will likely be more drawn to the opportunities that await an HVAC tech. Conversely, if you want to choose the career with the highest projected job growth rate, you may be more attracted to welding opportunities.
You need to decide which of these metrics is more important to reaching your individual goals. Perhaps the most important consideration, though, is which career path is easier to embark upon. This will vary greatly based on the state you are in, so in some cases, an HVAC career may be simpler, and in other cases, a welding career may be the path of least resistance.
No matter which career you choose, you should be sure to invest in insurance coverage if you are working as a self-employed contractor. This will ensure that you are shielded from the liabilities most commonly associated with your job, whether you’re working as a welder or an HVAC technician.