I’ve met some owners who are in their sixties who used to be service techs and maybe they do, on occasion, grab a wrench and make a service call “for old times’ sake.” So I can’t say on any real authority that there are very many service techs still working beyond their fifties. It’s not that techs can’t work into their sixties - some probably do because of their financial positions, and they may need to be earning an income beyond Social Security benefits (or lack thereof).
I just think that time and working conditions have probably taken their toll on techs’ bodies, and it is doubtful that too many feel they can roll out of bed every morning to work in a hot attic or a tight crawlspace. Heck, many are just happy to be able to roll out of bed. It beats the alternative.
It’s no secret that there is a definite graying of the service tech position. I recall reading somewhere - and my lack of gray matter may have something to do with my memory - that the average age for service techs was 41 years. But that was something I read several years ago, and I was recently reminded that this number might have risen into the 50s. That may seem shocking when you do the math.
DO THE MATHLet’s say you have 10 service technicians. You just brought on a new apprentice who is fresh out of votech training. He is 21 years old and ready to rumble. He joins a staff that includes three techs in their twenties, ages 23, 27, and 29. There are two techs in their thirties, ages 31 and 37. Two techs are in their forties, ages 41 and 46. And two are in their fifties, ages 50 and 54. That seems like a fairly typical age range, unless a contractor really loads up on young people. But I doubt that - there just aren’t as many young people interested in the HVAC service trade as there was 20-30 years ago.
So we have 10 techs with an average age of 35.9. Let’s round it up to 36. That’s not too bad. At age 36 a service tech might have spent at least one-half of his or her life in the service trade, or maybe several years in the trade after switching from another profession. The chances are slimmer for finding someone who is 36 and just starting out as a tech - although I acknowledge that it does happen. Jobs lost to downsizing, outsourcing, or plant closings have forced a lot of 36-year-old workers into new careers. More power to them.
In fact, if the average age of a service tech is 50 years old, that makes an even stronger argument for starting a new career at 36. It means he or she is not starting out at a time when others are already at the primes of their careers. Maybe 50 is the new prime.
In any case, if your techs average 36 years of age you are pretty lucky. That means they have a lot of good “shelf life” left in them. If your techs average 50 years of age, it may be time to start a youth movement.
FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT, WHO IS THE OLDEST?But let’s have some fun with this topic. Let’s see if we can identify the oldest HVAC service tech in America and give that person some recognition. If it is true that being 50 today is like being 40 two decades or more ago (more likely because of medical breakthroughs rather than good diet and exercise), then there are probably a lot of service techs who are still working into their sixties and beyond.
Do you think you might be the oldest tech? Or do you know of someone who might fit this description?
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We’ll run this survey until Leap Year Day, Feb. 29. By then we should have a good idea of just who might be the oldest HVAC service tech in America - and learn his or her secret to longevity. That information may even help you in your employee recruitment efforts.