HVAC Offers Numerous Career Paths
Demand for Qualified Workers is Increasing
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the national unemployment rate is hovering at 7.6 percent, but trade contracting, which includes the HVACR sector, is slowly on the rise. “Employment in specialty trade contracting has increased by 128,000 since September 2012,” noted a March report, issued by the BLS. “This gain is about equally split between residential and nonresidential components.”
While unemployment rates are edging downward in some states, the need for gainful employment is still a tangible necessity in most regions. The BLS is estimating an approximate 34 percent increase for demand of mechanics and installers between 2010 and 2020, and while the HVAC industry employs many installers and mechanics, its job reach extends well beyond those two positions.
The industry is growing, and demand for qualified people both in the field and in the office is breeding an emergence of diverse HVACR positions.
Careers at the contractor level include, but are not limited to, technician, installer, dispatcher, fleet manager, project manager, sales, service manager, human resources, payroll, contractor, and more.
Dennis Purvis, service/account manager at Mechanical Services Inc., an Emcor Co., in Orlando, Fla., said that not only does the company have many of the positions listed above, but it also has an in-house apprentice course for sheet metal and ductwork. The company also has certification and training for those interested in IAQ inspectors and control technicians.
“The HVACR industry thrives — even in times of a poor economy,” said Purvis. “With a good company, there is room for advancement, fair pay, and little fear of layoffs.”
Moving beyond traditional positions in an HVACR contracting firm, those looking for jobs can expect to see some new ones pop up in the coming future. According to Lou Vendrell, national director of product development at Lincoln Educational Services, West Orange, N.J., is a Certified Master HVACR Educator (CMHE). He said new career paths for the HVACR industry include energy auditor, green-technology specialist, and equipment performance-testing specialist to name a few.
“Students with two- or four-year training can be employed by HVAC contractors, distributors, surveying companies, energy management firms, manufacturers, and engineering firms,” he explained. “Our industry is a necessity for the type of lifestyle and comforts we are accustomed to in today’s world. The HVAC industry cannot be exported abroad and there will always be a need for professionals in many different fields of application.”
HVAC manufacturing offers many positions to both the trained and untrained worker. From a job on the line to a desk in the research and development lab, it takes many positions to develop, engineer, build, produce, package, market, and sell an HVAC product. At every one of those steps is a job that needs to be completed.
“The sky is the limit in this industry,” said Jerry Troke, vice president of marketing and product development, Heat Controller Inc. in Jackson, Mich. “People with knowledge, dedication, and initiative can move through many types of positions and responsibilities.”
At Heat Controller there are numerous jobs that need to be done, including rarely recognized technical writing, illustration, and packaging design positions.
“Our global economy is also requiring product information and documentation in a variety of languages,” said Troke. “We need people with translation skills combined with technical knowledge.”
The growing trend in technology advancement is pushing up the demand for people with mechanical and strong electronics skills. Introduction of wireless components and communicating equipment has also created a demand for those interested in networking and building automation. Software creation for training and applications is moving forward and so is the development of different tools used for monitoring, measuring, and repairing the equipment manufacturers create.
“Knowledge and background in HVAC can open the doors to many opportunities,” said Sam Fedewa, director of sales, hilmor, East Longmeadow, Mass. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of the HVAC industry. The tools are getting more sophisticated through technology and more advanced research and development.”
Dale Crook is one example of how diverse opportunities in the industry can be leveraged into a career.
Crook, owner of Build Right Products LLC, Overland Park, Kan., began his career as an installer, learning the industry from the ground up. “This helped me build a strong foundation for the related careers that were in my future,” he explained.
Crook moved up the ladder and went from an installer to a project manager and then stretched into product development.
“Now I am a manufacturer of HVAC accessory products,” he said. “There will be an ongoing demand for skilled professionals to develop, manufacture, sell, and install HVAC-related products, as long as the temperature continues to fluctuate on either side of 72˚F.”
Opportunity is Knocking
There are plenty of jobs in the HVAC industry and many working within the industry argue it is one of the best fields to work in. The key is exploring its many facets to find a career. Candidates may start out as a technician or a dispatcher, but where they end is up to them.
“One of the greatest opportunities in the HVAC field is that the employee can gain the education they lack as they grow within the industry,” said Brian Michael, director, residential sales development, unitary products group, Johnson Controls, Norman, Okla.
“This is an exciting industry that extends beyond wrenches and gauges. It is a very large, global business that is to be admired and respected.”
60 HVAC Jobs to Consider
To help those interested in finding a job, or those who are trying to convince someone else to enter this industry, The NEWS talked to a sampling of HVAC players and compiled a list of different positions, places to look, and reasons to choose HVAC. The following is a sampling of potential jobs that are available in the HVACR industry.
• Assembly/Floor Personnel
• Assistant Manager
• Blueprint Creation/Reading
• Branch Manager
• Controls Technician
• Corporate Leadership
• Customer Service
• Design Engineer
• Distributor Counter Sales
• Documentation Specialist
• Energy Auditor
• Engineering Lab Technician
• Equipment Performance Testing Specialist
• Field Technical Specialist
• Field Supervisor
• Finance Positions
• Government Regulation
• Graphic Design
• Green Technology Specialist
• Human Resources
• HVAC Equipment Dealer
• IAQ Inspector
• Inside Sales
• Line Supervisor
• Manager in Training
• Manufacturing Engineer
• Outside Sales
• Parts Runner
• Product Manager
• Product Technical Support
• Product Test Engineer
• Project Manager
• Public Relations
• Regional Manager
• Regional Training Instructor
• Safety Director
• SEO Manager
• Sheet Metal Fabrication
• Store Manager
• Supply Chain Specialist
• Tech Support Specialist
• Technical Training Instructor
• Trade Organizations
• Truck and Shop Maintenance
• Vendor Management Specialist
Where to Look for HVAC Jobs
Looking for a job in the HVAC industry can be simple if job seekers are looking in the right places. Here is a list of some potential spots to check for HVAC jobs.
Local Industry Events
Manufacturers Sales Reps
Online Job Search Sites
Someone in the Trade
Top 10 Reasons for HVAC
• “It’s a niche and as such, people with direct experience are in high demand.”
• “Challenging work with good pay commensurate with skills. You get to work with cutting-edge technologies and gain the satisfaction of helping people be comfortable and save energy.”
• “I find this industry interesting and challenging. There are many opportunities to use your skills to help people.”
• “This is a very stable industry with limitless opportunities. It is a technology-driven industry, so it is ever evolving and developing. There are also so many career paths, you can change course at any time and use the education and experience you have already gained.”
• “Unlimited career growth.”
• “More technicians are retiring than are entering the trade. There is a growing need for technicians with strong electronics, controls, and networking skills. For many of our technicians, they spend more time using electronic tools and computers than they do wrenches.”
• “The HVAC industry is ideal for those who like to work with their hands, do something different every day, and have a sense of pride when they save the day for customers having issues with their a/c or heating.”
• “The HVAC industry is wide open for innovation. This can be innovation in products, how we sell to consumers, and how we solve the everyday problem of heating and cooling homes more efficiently and effectively.”
• “It’s a homegrown industry. These are jobs that can’t be exported.”
• “HVACR trades are attractive because they are recession proof.”
Publication date: 5/27/2013