Even during the depths of the recession, top HVAC technicians were in high demand. Between 2010 and 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 34% increase in HVAC technician employment, which is much faster that other occupations. At a national annual median salary of $42,500 per year, which is well above the median national salary for all occupations at $33,840, a career as an HVAC technician can be lucrative as well as rewarding. The Department of Labor says that “Job opportunities for HVACR technicians are expected to be excellent, particularly for those who have completed training at an accredited technical school or through a formal apprenticeship. You would think that a vocation in such high demand, earning well above national average wages would lead to a dearth of talent pouring into the industry. Unfortunately, this is not the case because of what is known as the “skills gap”.
The Huffington Post explains the “skills gap” as “the approximately three million jobs in the United States that are posted but cannot be filled. These careers still require formal, institutionalized knowledge — but are not promoted as regularly by the institutions in our day-to-day lives, whether our families, our schools, or the media. Because of this, the supply side of these skills is incredibly low, but is in high demand. Examples of these careers include trades skills such as welding, plumbing and HVAC technicians.”
The vacuum created by this skills gap and the lack of institutional training to teach these skills has been filled by an array of private and public trade schools. Here in New York, private programs like Apex Technical and TCI charge tuition and fees of approximately $20,000 for a 900 hour degree course of study. On the public school side, the Suffolk County Community College Workforce Development Technology Program offers Certificate and Associates Degree programs in HVACR. Tuition for the ASS program is approximately $11,000 for residents and $22,000 for non residents (66 credits). For the certificate program, it is approximately $6000 for residents and $12,000 for non-residents (36 credits) plus books and fees. Seven (7) semesters are required for an AAS degree and four (4) for a certificate. The Greater New York Chapter of The Air Conditioning Contractors of America offers two scholarships annually for the SCCC Workforce HVAC Program.
For those with mechanical skills and acumen, trade union apprenticeship programs are also available to acquire HVAC skill sets through Local 638 (Steamfitters) and Local 355 (JATF) from participating employers.
After your days as a field technician are through, there are many career advancement paths in service and installation management and supervisory positions. With a sought after technical skill set, there will always be a job opening for HVAC industry technicians and professionals.