Employment Outlook for HVACR

Faster than average job growth

The HVACR industry is one place a vocational school education can really pay off. Although the wages are decent, they're not the biggest reason many HVAC mechanics are living comfortably. HVAC pros are secure in the knowledge that they are in demand by businesses and individuals and it's expected that they will be for a long time to come.

Factors keeping HVAC technicians in business

  • Environmental concern and energy conservation - Newly developed HVAC systems save energy while providing climate control. They are increasingly replacing less efficient systems. Air conditioners with older refrigerants such as HCFCs are being traded in for those that use environmentally preferable refrigerants. People are also becoming more concerned with indoor air quality, which makes newer, high tech systems even more appealing.
  • More complex equipment - With this new equipment comes a need for maintenance and repair to ensure that it runs at highest efficiency. The likelihood of malfunctions may also increase, meaning more HVAC mechanics will be needed.

New jobs will be available due to the retirement of older professionals and an increase in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. HVACR installers may see less work in the event of a construction slowdown, but there should always be maintenance work for mechanics.

Where HVACR professionals will find jobs

About half of all heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians work in the contracting industry for plumbing, heating and air conditioning companies. Most of the other technicians work for fuel dealers, service and repair shops, local and federal governments or in office buildings and hospitals. Pretty much anywhere climate control is needed, an HVACR technician can be found.

In certain seasons an HVACR technician's 40-hour workweek may expand to keep up with the workload. At other times they work less than a full week. Employees in some industries work shift work including evenings and weekends and can be on-call. Technicians who perform both installation and maintenance often have less variation in their weekly hours. The popularity of service contracts has also made it easier for employers to guarantee certain hours. Repair shops that service all equipment rather than focusing on one type should be able to offer more stable employment.

Heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration technician wages

Apprentice workers in this industry generally earn half of what experienced workers do. Their pay will increase as they gain experience and take on more responsibilities. Other employee benefits may include health coverage and pension plans, paid training and use of company vehicles and tools.

  • Median hourly earnings - $17.43
  • Middle 50 percent - $13.51 to $22.21
  • Top 10 percent - over $27.11
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $10.88

Median wages by industry

  • Hardware, plumbing and heating merchant wholesalers - $19.51
  • Sales establishments - $17.81
  • Schools - $17.56
  • Machinery and equipment (commercial and industrial) repair and maintenance- $17.52
  • Building equipment contractors - $16.80

Statistics courtesy the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2004