While many states require HVAC contractors to hold professional licensure, this is not the only thing you should know about actually working in this career. Working as an HVAC technician is similar to other contractor roles in many ways and yet wholly unique in others. Here are some of the things you should know about a career as an HVAC technician.
HVAC Professionals Are in Demand
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that HVAC mechanics and installers are expected to see a growth rate of 13% through 2028, which is in the much faster than average range. This growth is driven by a number of factors, including new home and commercial structure construction, the demand for more energy efficient heating and cooling options, and the repair or replacement of aging systems. Work is steady because HVAC systems are simply necessary to maintain in spite of economic conditions. However, this does not mean that you will not have to keep your work up to standard. The higher your work ethic and willingness to follow modern trends, the more likely you will have and maintain a steady stream of work.
You May Be Asked to Join a Union
As someone who works in a skilled trade, you may be invited to join a union. Being a member of a union sometimes has negative connotations, but overall you should know that joining a union tends to afford contractors higher wages and better working conditions. These organizations also provide apprenticeship opportunities, which can help you become an HVAC technician in the first place, as well as continuing education opportunities. HVAC contractor union recruitment usually happens through your work or by professional outreach from the organization. As a general rule, unions work through principles of mutual support, of various contractors coming together to ensure they receive good wages and treatment for quality work. This will also help you network and find good people to work for.
You Might Need to Be on Call
The failure of HVAC systems can be devastating and even life-threatening, whether it occurs at a business or a private residence. For this reason, many HVAC contractors are on call 24/7 for emergencies. Overtime, weekend and irregular hours are common, so anyone looking to enter this profession should understand that their availability is often critical. If you are able to be flexible and not work a strict 9 to 5 schedule, then this job could be the one for you. As an HVAC contractor, you will need to have reliable methods of communication and transportation so that you can respond to calls promptly. This will make you a reliable and valued contractor to your clients, and will make them more likely to recommend your services.
You Will Need to Follow Exceptionally Strong Safety Standards
HVAC contractors experience a lot of injuries and illnesses due to their work. Occupational hazards include burns, electrical shocks, injuries from lifting heavy equipment, illnesses from exposure to building materials, and more. It is therefore imperative that you follow all safety procedures and regulations set forth by your employer, your state and the manufacturer of the equipment you handle. Even if this slows your process, it will be sure to prevent hazards that could limit your ability to work or take you out of the workforce altogether. If you aren’t sure what safety regulations you are required to follow, be sure to research safety tips and rules for new technicians.
Becoming an HVAC technician can be an incredibly rewarding career. It is in demand, pays relatively well, and requires only vocational training to get started. However, as with any job, you should understand all aspects of the role before you choose to pursue it. Be sure to look into your local union and research the safety regulations and standards, Remain on call so you can be there when your clients or employer needs you. If you follow these tips, you will have a rewarding career as an HVAC technician.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan