Professionals who work in the field of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) are responsible for serving millions of people each year within the United States throughout all seasons of the year. Without HVAC professionals we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the favorable conditions we get to experience on a daily basis within residential and commercial buildings or within our vehicles. The HVAC field encompasses a vast range of job responsibilities including the installation, maintenance and repair of air quality systems, performing risk assessment on HVAC related equipment, performing emergency repairs, and ensuring compliance with OSHA and federal regulations.
Learn How to Become HVAC Certified in Your State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
The job outlook for the HVAC field looks promising for both those who are currently working within the field as well as for those who are interested in becoming HVAC professionals in the near future. It has been reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that within the next 3-4 years there will be over a 20% increase for job growth within the HVAC industry and there will also be an increased demand for HVAC jobs working with advanced or environmentally friendly technology such as systems which rely on solar and wind energy.
HVAC technicians are expected to earn close to $50,000 on average and states with the highest average salaries include New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland which offer up to $53,000 per year for an average annual salary. HVAC occupations that offer the highest annual salaries include HVAC supervisors, HVAC engineers, HVAC refrigeration technicians, and service and repair managers. These occupations have a median annual salary ranging from $65,000 up to $90,000 per year.
HVAC Specialized Skills
HVAC professionals are required to have an array of specialized skills in order to successfully fulfill their roles. Common skills shared among HVAC professionals of all specialties include a general understanding of mechanics, mathematics and other related science, the ability to work in the area of customer service and sales, knowledge of the key regulations from the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as environmental refrigerant laws, the ability to solve time-consuming, complex problems, and the ability to learn new technologies.
The HVAC Professionals Path
Along with having a certain skill set, there is also a general path that most HVAC technicians and professionals follow in order to enter the HVAC field. Most professionals first earn their high school diploma and then go on to complete either an accredited HVAC program or an apprenticeship program. HVAC programs are offered as certificate, associate, or bachelor programs and most HVAC professionals will obtain at least 2 years of a college education. Alternatively, HVAC workers may participate in an apprenticeship program in lieu of a college degree or in conjunction with certain academic programs. Following HVAC education professionals typically gain 1 to 2 years of work experience prior to obtaining professional certification within their specialty.
HVAC professionals will generally need some form of a college education prior to entering their field. Most HVAC professionals will obtain at minimum an Associate of Science prior to sitting for their specialty exam or taking on official work. However, in recent years more professionals have obtained further education including obtaining bachelor degrees or even a masters if they work in a highly specialized field. Certificates and degree programs obtained by HVAC workers may include certificates in refrigeration or electricity, an AAS (Associate in Applied Science) or AAT (Associates in Applied Technology) in HVAC-R, Air Conditioning Technology, or HVAC Installation & Residential Service, and bachelor’s degrees within the fields of technology management, HVAC, HVAC design technology, business management, and engineering. Very few HVAC professionals go on to obtain education at the master or doctoral level but there are some cases in which individuals choose to do so. This usually pertains to those who work in advanced engineering or mathematics.
It’s been found that having some form of a higher education is the leading factor for achieving a higher salary within the HVAC field. Those who have an undergraduate degree within a HVAC specialty tend to earn over 30% higher income compared to HVAC professionals who do not have a college degree. Additionally, over half of HVAC professionals have completed some form of a professional education with most having EPA Section 608 certification as well as HVAC technician certification. Even though work experience is highly valued in this field education tends to have higher priority for almost every single HVAC occupation. Those who have more work experience than their peers typically don’t receive a substantially higher income until they have reached the 10 year mark compared to those who have a 4 year degree who enter the field and almost immediately earn more than the industry mean.
HVAC professionals should keep in mind when pursuing their education to try their best to obtain a certificate or degree from a program that has national accreditation. Programs which are the most renown typically have accreditation by either the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) or HVAC Excellence. Accreditation by one of these governing bodies ensures that the school which offers HVAC education provides specific sources and outcomes required to be adequately prepared for taking all required specialty exams and succeeding within the HVAC work place in respect to upholding regulations as well as providing the highest quality level of service.
In addition to having education along with certification most HVAC professionals will need to successfully complete an examination covering their specialty. Different states offer various exams for each specialty and HVAC professionals always need to verify with both local and national requirements for the exam they need to take, if any, prior to entering the workforce and obtaining necessary licensure. Generally, most states offer licensing at the apprentice, journeyman, and master level for HVAC technicians. Some states offer specialty licenses in areas such as hearth, fuel gas piping, waste oil heating, or liquid petroleum limited heating and there is also nationally mandated certification by the EPA which all HVAC technicians must acquire.