A career in Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) can be interesting and lucrative. For most jobs in this arena, you will experience helping people on a daily basis who very much appreciate the work you do, although they may complain about the cost of your services. Here is an overview of what it means to take an HVAC career path.
Typically, 2 years worth of technical classes are required as a minimum for this industry. The real trick though, is getting a company to hire you on as an apprentice. It is the common “Catch-22” of companies that won’t hire you unless you have experience, so how are you supposed to get experience? Usually your foot in the door will be with a company who is so busy that they need installers to do heavy lifting.
You can then parlay one to two years of experience there into getting a technical service job. The money for this position will be better and the physical work will be easier, although the hours may be worse. The end goal should be to own your own company outright. The biggest profits are in the sales of the units and being able to keep all of a $100-$400 service call fee.
Do the math on 8 calls at $200 each per day and you can start to see some real money. Of course you will have a truck you will have to buy, along with some equipment and you will be exposed to liability. Still, build up a customer base with service contracts and you’ll never worry about a recession again.
In the field of HVAC, if you broaden your outlook, you will find pockets of available positions. Beyond being a service technician, you can be employed as an HVAC mechanic at a Heating and Air Conditioning manufacturing company. You can also become an HVAC project consultant on commercial jobs, a refrigeration construction foreman or specialize in Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning design.
In the coming years, you can find opportunities in the air conditioning requirements of commercial aviation and marine vessels. There are all sorts of specialty refrigeration requirements in industry which require the services of an experienced HVAC technician. These include the food industry, medical industry, and specialty manufacturing industries.
Heating and Air Conditioning service people install, repair and maintain the systems to heat and cool the interior space of residential, office and industrial buildings. They also work on specialty refrigeration units and industrial heating units. The equipment involved includes fans, motors, compressors, thermostats, tubing, ductwork and electronic and electrical controls. You will have to learn the systems in the marketplace and how to diagnose problems and repair them on site.
You will also have to understand insulation and heat loss prevention.
You may find yourself specializing in only one type of system. For example, the company for which you work may only do solar panels. It is important that you are mechanically strong, as well as, good with people, because if you do residential work, you will deal with the public every day.
The work will involve some extremely busy times and you will most likely be working extended and odd hours during the start-up of summer and winter and during the extremes of summer and winter. Your vacations will likely have to be in March and late September.
HVAC is a solid career for which there will always be a need. However, working in 120 degree attics and 5 degree crawlspaces is not much fun, but comes with the territory. If you can put up with this discomfort and work towards owning your own company, you can have a rewarding career and genuinely help people with their heating, ventilating and air conditioning needs when they need it most.