If you’re interested in working in the heating, air conditioning, and ventilation industry, you’ve come to the right place. The need for trades jobs is at an all-time high, which means it’s the ideal time to take on a role as an HVAC contractor. But you’re probably wondering how easy it is to become an HVAC contractor, what’s the medium HVAC business owner salary, and if it’s a stable market to be in. Keep reading to find out the answers to all that and more.
5 Reasons Why HVAC Is a Great Career Path
Whether you’re looking for your first job out of school or you’re ready for a change in occupation, a trades job such as an HVAC contractor is definitely one you want to consider. Here are five reasons why becoming an HVAC contractor is a great career path to follow.
- It’s not a desk job – One of the biggest benefits of a career in HVAC is that you won’t be cooped up behind a desk all day watching the clock. If you dread the idea of staring at the same four walls all day long, becoming an HVAC contractor might be the ideal choice for you. You’ll never have the same day twice — each day you’ll be on the road visiting customer’s homes to repair or install heating and air conditioning equipment throughout your service area. From working on the air conditioning condenser out back to maneuvering your way through a customer’s crawl space to climbing up into their attic, no job is the same. Instead of spending your day sitting idly by at a desk, you get to spend your time traveling about the city that you know and love and get to call home.
- No day is the same – Working on the same process or solving the same problem repeatedly can get quite monotonous. Luckily a career in HVAC provides you with a ton of variety in the types of projects you take on. One day you might find yourself installing an air conditioner in a new construction residential building while the next day you’re troubleshooting a rooftop HVAC system on a commercial property. From air conditioning and heating systems to air purification systems and water heaters, you’ll be able and ready to handle it all.
- It’s a need-based market – If job stability is extremely important to you, you’re making the right call considering a career in HVAC. Not only does the market for your services continue to grow every day, but it’s an extremely stable market. Most of an HVAC company’s services are considered need-based instead of want-based. This is because your customers need their air conditioner working in the heart of the summer, just like they need their furnace operating at peak efficiency all winter long. Without these systems performing adequately, they won’t be able to live comfortably and will need to call an HVAC company for service. Because nearly every home or commercial property has an HVAC system, there is a large market of customers that will continually need your services. This makes HVAC marketing easier to master.
- Flexibility in where you’re located – As we’ve noted, homeowners and commercial property owners everywhere understand the importance of having a working HVAC system. This means no matter where you go, there will be an HVAC company nearby. This offers you the freedom to move, should you need or choose to do so, because you can have peace of mind knowing you’ll be able to find an HVAC contractor job wherever you go.
- HVAC careers pay well – Because fewer individuals are making their way into the heating and air conditioning field, there are a lot of trades job openings that aren’t being filled. As a result, there is an extremely high demand for qualified HVAC contractor candidates — and the higher the demand, the higher the income potential.
How Much Do HVAC Contractors Make?
Now that you’re aware of the many reasons why a career in the HVAC industry has become more popular in recent years, you’re probably wondering how much an HVAC contractor makes — and rightfully so.
While the salary of an HVAC contractor can vary from state to state, the median annual salary is $48,730 (or $23.43 per hour) according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that half of the contractors in the HVAC industry earned more than $48,730 per year, while the other half earned less annually.
To be a top-earner in the HVAC field, you need to be skilled at what you do and have years of experience under your belt. The more experienced, the higher your hourly or annual salary is likely to be, along with holding a higher education degree or specialized certifications in the industry. Hiring employees to work for you will also increase your earnings compared to being a one man HVAC business.
What Is the Job Outlook for the HVAC Industry?
Before entering an industry, it’s important to understand what the job outlook is. Will there still be a need for the role and services in the future? Or will you find yourself looking for a new job or career? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of HVAC contractors is expected to grow by 15% by the year 2026. This is more than twice the expected growth of 7% across all occupations. While unemployment is relatively high at the moment, HVAC has proven to be relatively unphased because your customers will continue needing their HVAC systems serviced.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor
If everything we’ve mentioned appeals to you, becoming an HVAC contractor might be the ideal fit for you. Here are the steps to take to start your career as an HVAC contractor.
1. Earn a High School Diploma (or Equivalent)
The majority of states will require you to hold a high school diploma (or equivalent) to become an HVAC contractor. If you’re still working towards your degree, it is recommended that you focus your studies on courses that relate to the field of heating, air conditioning, and ventilation. When possible, enroll yourself in courses such as computer science, physics, mathematics, shop classes, and additional vocational training.
2. Enroll in an HVAC Certificate Program
While there isn’t a federal law requiring HVAC contractors to obtain an HVAC certificate, most states will require this. Even if your state does not, having an HVAC certificate can help you stand out from other candidates because it demonstrates that you’re an achiever and knowledgeable — which means the company will need to spend less time teaching you the ropes. Enroll in a year-long HVAC certificate program that will help you better understand diagnostic testing, how to use the necessary equipment and tools, and background knowledge on mechanics and electronics.
3. Find an Apprenticeship
Some individuals opt to go right into a job following their HVAC certification program, but for those that want to gain all the knowledge they can (thus making you a more valuable candidate for the job), consider applying for an HVAC apprenticeship. Throughout this apprenticeship, you will receive hands-on training from HVAC technicians, allowing you to gain on-the-job experience that will make you more confident in your future role. In this field, experience often equates to more money — completing an apprenticeship will help you nail down a higher starting salary because of your hands-on training.
4. Look Into Certifications and Specializations
Ultimately, you want to make yourself the most desirable candidate on the market so every HVAC company understands how lucky they would be to have you as part of their team. Consider certifications, such as NATE Certification, or specializing in a specific type of HVAC systems like commercial furnaces, residential heat pumps, or metal fabrication. The more desirable you are as a candidate, the higher you can expect your salary as an HVAC contractor to be.