Now is a stressful time for many high school seniors. As their final year of high school wraps up, many of them are submitting applications for college and feeling the pressure of what they should do after they graduate. It seems like the push to go to a four-year college is impossible to ignore, but is it always the right choice?
There has been a lot of discussion over the past few years about whether or not four year degrees are right for every student. Some students just don’t enjoy school that much, or don’t want to take on substantial debt in order to make a living. This is where trade schools are often overlooked, which is a shame. These schools offer hands-on training in many specialized fields, offering students the ability to find profitable careers once they have graduated and are properly licensed.
We are big proponents of trade school programs for young adults who are looking for careers that allow them to use their hands and mind, will offer a bright future, and will provide knowledge in areas like HVAC that are forecasted to continue to grow over the foreseeable future.
HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) technicians have a lot to look forward to in an industry that is projected to grow by 21% over the next 10 years. This is a job that keeps you on your toes – no day is ever exactly the same, as there are always new problems to solve. Being an HVAC technician is also hard work, as a lot of moving, crawling, and heavy lifting can be involved. As with any physical work there is a risk of injury, but it is definitely not a desk job where you are stuck in a cubicle all day!
It’s also a job that offers good pay and great benefits. The median salary for an HVAC technician in the U.S. is around $42,000, but this is only the beginning. The benefits package are great! How would you like a company vehicle with a gas card, auto insurance and maintenance? On top of that, there are more employee benefits than you can count…health, dental, vision, disability and life insurance, a retirement account, paid holidays and vacation, smart phone, iPad, and year-round training programs.
Combine that with a high projected growth rate in the coming years, and the stage is set for experienced workers to see their pay rise.
Becoming an HVAC tech also means that you will develop a very specialized set of skills that can be used in any state. Licensing may be different, but you will have the experience required to work with HVAC systems anywhere in the country. Not to mention the opportunity to start your own business after gaining enough experience.
What Makes A Good Tech?
If you are someone who enjoys being told exactly what to do and doesn’t like to solve problems, then being an HVAC technician isn’t for you. HVAC work requires great problem solving skills, as well as an interest in hands-on work. Those who enjoy working with motors and mechanical tools will likely get satisfaction from solving tricky problems and getting a broken HVAC system up and running again.
People who are interested in math and physics will also enjoy this work. We aren’t talking about theoretical physics here – this is the kind of work where you can clearly see or feel what is happening within the HVAC system. You will need to know how the components of an air conditioning or heating system work on a physical basis in order to solve problems, and some math will be involved in that. It’s not overly difficult, but if you are someone who runs at basic calculations, than this might not be a position for you.
The other component of being a great HVAC tech that is rarely discussed on other websites is the ability to be reliable, patient, and work well with clients. Being an HVAC technician doesn’t mean you do your work silently and alone – you will work with the public, which means showing up on time and doing what you say you will do. Most of the time, you will be interacting with clients, many of who don’t understand how their air conditioning or heating systems work. It’s important to be able to help clients understand problems without being too technical, listen to their concerns, and offer the best solutions for their problems. This is where any work in retail or food service settings can actually come in handy.
Where Do I Start?
Are you thinking about becoming an HVAC technician? Awesome!
Reach out to HVAC companies in your area to find out if they have a summer internship or apprentice program.
Here are a few tips to make a great first impression:
- Take the time to prepare a customized cover letter.
- Proof read your cover letter, resume and application.
- Be willing to start at the bottom if you do not have experience.
Also, reach out to HVAC schools in your area. You may be able to attend a night class to make sure you are really interested in this type of program before you invest a lot of time and money.
Keep in mind, timing is everything. Most HVAC companies in the Southeast make hiring decisions during March and April so the new team members are trained and ready for the summer. It is rare to hire during the extremely slow months from November through February.
If you have decided to pursue a career in HVAC, congratulations! It is an exciting field filled with opportunity and the chance to learn about new technologies being developed for the industry. We wish you the best of luck in your training!