Are you facing the reality of high school graduation and have no idea what to do next? Or maybe you’ve been out of school for a few years, but haven’t found a career that’s a good fit for your talents and personality yet.
If you enjoy fixing things and interacting with people, but not being tethered to a desk or a computer all day every day, the HVAC industry may just be right for you. Have you considered whether you have what it takes to become a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician or mechanic? These skilled professionals are in high demand with many HVAC contractors looking to hire qualified, hardworking people right away – including us here at Ressler & Mateer!
So, what does it take to score one of these HVAC jobs and begin a solid career with an excellent outlook for the future? Let’s take a closer look.
What HVAC professionals do and how you can become one
The main job duties of HVAC technicians and mechanics involve installing, maintaining, and repairing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems and equipment. They work in a wide variety of locations including:
- People’s homes – single family dwellings and apartments
- Commercial settings like office buildings and restaurants
- Industrial environments and manufacturing facilities
- New construction sites for just about any type of building
- Any place that needs to be comfortable and climate-controlled!
Some HVAC professionals may be new equipment installers, while others may be service and repair techs who troubleshoot and work on existing systems. As a new professional in the field, you will likely be called on to do both types of projects depending on your employer’s needs.
As you gain experience in the field and log the required training hours, you may decide to specialize in one area or even move into other, related fields, like refrigeration or plumbing, based on your personal interests and/or your employer’s business model. For example, here at Ressler & Mateer, we offer our customers a full range of HVAC, plumbing, and duct cleaning services, and we need professionals on our team who are knowledgeable and skilled in one or all of these areas.
Getting your foot in the door can often possible with little or no prior experience and education in the field. However, there are post-secondary training courses that range from certificates to 2-year associate degree programs from a community or technical college.
If you’re still in high school now, consider pursuing some of this training to get a head start and help you find out if HVAC is really what you want to do. You will certainly be in good company – a growing number of HVAC professionals opt for degrees, and many find certificate programs helpful when just starting out. In fact, about 16% of techs working in the field in 2017 had a 2-year college degree, and over half had received some type of certificate prior to beginning their career.
Opportunities for everyone
Whether you choose to pursue a degree, certificate, or other training before going into the HVAC field, it’s true that individual interests and abilities predict whether you will enjoy your work and be successful. HVAC professionals need to be tech-savvy and mechanically inclined, for instance. At the same time, they must be detail-oriented, customer service-focused, and have a willingness to work hard and learn new skills. Being in reasonably good physical shape also helps, as heavy lifting and working outdoors are frequently involved.
With all of that in mind, the HVAC field does offer opportunities for just about everyone today. As with many of the building trades, HVAC is still a male-dominated industry – only 1.4% of workers in a 2017 survey were female – but that doesn’t mean interested women should shy away from becoming HVAC professionals. Forecasts show that the HVAC market will be worth $120 billion by 2022, and that means the demand for qualified professional HVAC technicians and mechanics will continue to grow rapidly.
A great future outlook
Just how rapidly will that demand for HVAC professionals grow? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers through 2026 is 15% growth. That may not sound like a big number, but it is well above the 7% growth number for all tracked occupations. And it’s even robust compared to the construction industry as a whole, which is projected to grow by a relatively healthy 10%.
Why should you care about this outlook? It means that your skills and training will always be marketable. Going into a field that doesn’t have a good outlook is a mistake that too many younger workers make, and then they struggle to find a job after completing training or an expensive degree.
The HVAC field is also friendly to hardworking individuals who hope to advance at work over time, as well. Once you’ve put in your time as a technician, you’ll be able to climb the ranks to crew leader and project manager positions in which your skills, as well as your ability to motivate others on your team, will earn you increased compensation. That said, starting salaries in the HVAC field are competitive compared to many other trades, and most employers offer excellent health benefits, holiday and vacation time, and plenty of on-the-job training opportunities to help you on your career path.
Do you live in the Greater Berks or Lancaster, PA areas and want to join a friendly team that’s driven to succeed? Ressler & Mateer is always looking for committed, dependable HVAC and plumbing professionals to join our team. Check out our current employment opportunities and send us your resume today!