HVAC jobs typically require formal HVAC training and an apprenticeship before these tradespeople are allowed to work on their own. Licensed technicians work on heating and air systems as well as ventilation and refrigeration systems in both residential and commercial environments. Often, these jobs require working in cramped and hot conditions and require travel to and from the work site.
Due to the constant construction of businesses and residential dwellings, there will always be a need for qualified HVAC technicians. Aside from installing new systems, these individuals are called on to repair existing units. Future job opportunities for HVAC technicians are good, with a projected growth rate of around 15 percent from 2016 to 2026.
In 2017, the average pay for private HVAC techs was around $47,080. Individuals who work in manufacturing and commercial industries tend to make slightly more, with an average salary of around $50,000, while top-level performers make as much as $75,000 per year.
Entry-level jobs in the HVAC industry begin with technicians working alongside experienced, licensed contractors. They learn to perform some of the more basic tasks like installing insulated lines to cleaning out furnaces. More difficult tasks include learning how to weld pipes together and checking circuits. Apprenticeships typically take three to five years depending on number of hours worked.
The Environmental Protection Agency requires an individual who buys, handles and works with any type of refrigerant to be certified in the proper handling of these chemicals. This certification is offered at most trade schools and even some unions and employer associations. State and local governments regulate licenses in most locations.
The majority of HVAC jobs are with plumbing, heating and air conditioning contractors. Some work in retail and educational services, while others own private companies and work on their own or with a small number of employees.
HVAC workers have a great opportunity to go out on their own, which makes this an excellent career for entrepreneurs. The job tends to be busy year-round, and the pay is competitive.