ACHRNEWS

Lack of pay = lack of hvacr technicians?

June 1, 2000
It will be interesting to see what the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) concludes, if anything, from its Career Satisfaction Survey.

ACCA is surveying hvacr technicians to gauge their level of job satisfaction and future career outlook. The organization’s Career Development Task Team is supposed to use the collected information to spearhead the development of new recruitment resources targeted towards parents, career counselors, and students.

Also, as ACCA states on its Web site before introducing its questionnaire, “We’ll use your feedback to help us understand your needs and develop new tools to help your contractor-owner improve your benefits or working conditions as well as recruit new technicians to expand his/her business.”

Interesting. But isn’t this all just about money?

Money talks

From just talking to a few technicians and being reinforced by comments presented in The News’ online forum bulletin board, money appears to be one — if not the main — reason why fewer and fewer are heading into the hvacr field.

“I’ve been in the field for nearly 20 years and the reason for no new techs is because of low pay, long hours, no benefits, and bad working conditions,” wrote Lee Rozycke. “I would never counsel a young person to get into this business.

“There is no reason our field should not be paying $100,000 a year for 40 hours to qualified techs, top end,” he added. “But you will not find that anywhere in the country. My brother, with a four-year degree in liberal arts, makes $140,000 managing two restaurants. Our field tops out at $50,000 with a 40-hour week.”

“I totally agree,” answered Bob Grider. “I have news for the industry. If the industry can’t find a way to train and provide quality benefits to techs, there won’t be techs. I love this trade, but it’s on a sure path to self-destruction.”

Stephen Doherty put it this way: “They [contractors] whine about techs being in short supply, but they [contractors] won’t fork out the money.”

Meanwhile, another reader said, “I too have been in this business for 20 years, but now I have found a way to make it profitable for myself. Instead of ‘talking about it,’ we did something about it. Yes, that’s right, we ‘pulled a coup.’ We were tired of working for nothing, not to mention an engineer that thought ‘heat transfer’ meant taking all the money to Florida every winter. Now we pool our resources, share the responsibilities, and the money!”

Survey Says ...

Then again, maybe Tom McCart has the right idea. This reader said if techs are paid and treated better, they will help recruit other potential techs.

“Why not price your service for what it is worth and pay your techs what they are worth to you?” he asked. “Why not pay techs a decent hourly wage and give them production bonuses for exceeding production goals? Like in any business, the more you produce, the more you get paid.”

Somewhere along the line, something is going to have to give. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, more than 104,000 jobs in hvacr will go unfilled by 2004. That’s an alarming figure. ACCA admits it can’t resolve the problem by itself. It will take a total industry to solve it.

By taking the pulse of technicians, ACCA is attempting to get an indication of what’s wrong (and what’s right) with the current system. To possibly help their cause, technicians are encouraged to participate in ACCA’s survey by clicking onto its Web site, www.acca.org.

Of course, if you have any thoughts on the technician “crisis,” let us know. As a technician, how do you feel about your job? Do you get paid well? Do you view what you’re doing as a life-long career? Technicians can e-mail (skaerm@ bnp.com) or fax (248-623-1395) their responses accordingly.

Here’s the belief that money (or the lack thereof) is the main reason technicians are not joining the ranks.

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