When looking for a valuable trade to study, you will likely come across the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry. As you navigate the varying specialties, education requirements, technician tiers, and sections of the industry, you will find something for various interests. However, is HVAC a good career?
Yes, it is, and in this article, you will learn more about the pros and cons of HVAC work, what to expect from the profession in the long term, and what benefits you get from the job.
Is HVAC a Good Career for the Future?
The HVAC industry is full of career opportunities. Whether you want to work in residential or commercial HVAC, there are job opportunities from entry-level to senior positions in installation and maintenance, design and engineering, automated controls, and sales. To accurately weigh HVAC career pros and cons, you need to understand which career path best suits your interests and skills.
Entry-level positions are generally for people with some training or education in the HVAC path. For example, some entry-level positions include:
- Assisting a senior-level technician with installation and maintenance by carrying parts, cleaning post-installation, and answering service calls
- Commercial or residential installer, trainee, or apprentice
- Warehouse associate
- Controls installer
- CAD assistant
With more training, education, and years of experience working in the field, you can work on a professional level. You will have to check the licensing requirements in your state to learn more about what you need to get started in a professional position.
After several years of job experience, you may have the opportunity to take on a managerial position. Some common mid-level positions include:
- Residential or commercial service technician
- Facilities maintenance technician
- Service dispatcher
- Cooking equipment service technician
- Sales and marketing associate
- Customer sales representative and estimator
- Building automation systems trainee or technician
- Test and balance technician
A mid-level degree is often a stepping stone for more advanced positions, especially in the installation, sales, and marketing industries.
Advanced positions require varying years of experience and education. How much of each depends on the career path. For example, technicians working in the installation and servicing of systems generally need more on-the-job experience than education. However, those working in design and engineering need significantly more higher education. Some examples of advanced careers include:
- Residential or commercial contractor or service manager
- Facilities manager
- Stationary engineer
- Journey-level technician
- Sales and marketing manager
- Equipment manufacturer representative
- Building automation systems engineer or manager
- Senior operations systems analyst
- Code Inspector
- HVAC instructor
- Mechanical engineer
- Energy engineer or analyst
In general, a career in HVAC is a solid investment in the future. Each industry category relies on the other to prosper, making any career choice suitable.
What Is the Long-Term HVAC Career Outlook?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all careers in the HVAC and refrigeration industries should continue to grow at a rate of 8% by 2030. That is a projected extra 38,500 job openings in HVAC each year. Keep in mind that when you reach advanced levels in residential and commercial work, you can use your experience, education, and licensing to start your own HVAC business.
You could also work with a general contractor. This area of the field, meaning the construction component, will likely drive the majority of the anticipated growth.
What Are the HVAC Career Pros and Cons?
To better assess the value of a career in the heating and cooling industry, you want to weigh HVAC’s pros and cons. Of course, there are different pros and cons for each section within the industry. However, you can get a general idea from the overall pros and cons listed below.
Some of the most significant pros of working in the HVAC industry include:
- There are many opportunities for growth.
- You can move laterally between positions at the same level in varying sections of the industry.
- Technicians, especially those in residential work, experience different settings almost daily.
- Professional-level positions are not available for outsourcing.
- You can earn a fair and sustainable wage quickly, even in entry-level positions.
- You have a variety of career paths from which to choose.
- Several states do not require licensing to seek employment in the industry.
- You can start training before you even complete high school.
Most important among the pros is that HVAC technicians spend much of their time problem-solving and moving from case to case. The job never gets boring, but if you find yourself unhappy with your position, you have many opportunities to change positions without needing to start over entirely. For example, with just a few years of experience, you could move from a residential trainee in installation and servicing to a commercial tradesperson.
Some cons of working in HVAC, which are fewer than the pros, include:
- The work is physically demanding, particularly for the installation part of the industry.
- Many HVAC technicians deal with on-call hours, which can cause issues in your personal life.
- Some states see lower levels of growth and job openings.
- You typically pay out-of-pocket for licensing and other necessary certifications.
- It takes several years to reach an advanced level in any area of the industry.
- You may spend a significant amount of time working by yourself.
Some of these cons are potential positives. For example, you may enjoy the freedom of working alone, and on-call hours can mean overtime pay. It is up to you to decide if this career path works for you.
Should You Consider a Career in HVAC Work?
So, is HVAC a good career option? Now that you better understand HVAC’s pros and cons, you should have some idea of whether this industry suits your personal goals. If you prefer a career with historical and projected stability, plenty of day-to-day variation, and many options for lateral or upward movement, HVAC could be an excellent fit for you.
If the only downside is the time it takes to be an expert in an HVAC-related field, you at least have the reassurance that you can earn a significant income as you learn.