Graduation season is in full swing. College graduates are ready to enter the workforce, and, much like driving a new car off the lot, they’re about to realize the amount they paid for their college educations is not competitive with their new salaries.

However, this column is more geared toward those just graduating from high school. These folks may want to consider joining the HVACR industry. Here is an open letter to those graduates. Feel free to share this with any new high school graduates in your life.


Congratulations on completing 13 years of schooling. A lot of family and friends will be shaking your hands and saying what a great accomplishment it is to graduate high school. Actually, it is not. It is quite a long journey, but it is not exactly like climbing Everest. To put it in some perspective, Justin Bieber, Johnny Manziel, and Mariah Carey all graduated from high school, and I guarantee you will not bump shoulders with them at any Mensa meetings.

But, I am sure you have a great head on your shoulders, and it is time to start using it. The first lesson is to examine all your options. I am quite certain that for the last four years it has been beaten into your head that you need to get good grades to get into a good four-year university and translate that into obtaining a high-paying job. What if I provided a bit of a shortcut?

Your high school guidance counselors did not share this with you because they get paid to send students to college, but are you aware of the opportunities available in the HVACR industry? This is a great home for those with solid people skills and mechanical aptitudes.

Most HVACR jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree, and most community and technical colleges offer certificates and associate’s degrees. How about a year at a trade school that translates into a technician’s job where the average salary exceeds $49,000 plus bonuses, overtime, and paid training? The average salary of a college graduate is $45,000 but that is if you can find a job. That also comes along with the inevitable student loans you will need to pay back. Sorry, not enough people were “Feeling the Bern,” so you’re going to have to pay for college.

Now, I am not going to sugar coat it — this is not easy work. It is manual labor that will have you in attics when it is hotter than a jalapeño’s armpit and down in crawlspaces in freezing temperatures. You may be working nights, weekends, and holidays during the busy season, when the temperatures are at their most extreme, but, rest assured, you will be well compensated.

And the sky is the limit in this industry. If a technician is where you want to be for the rest of your career, as long as you are a good one, you will always have a job. This is a job where there is a demand all around the country. It does not matter if you want to settle in New York, Ohio, or Oregon — HVACR contractors will always be looking for qualified help, as these jobs can’t be outsourced.

But, if you want more, there is plenty. Sales and management positions exist in the HVACR industry, as well.

If you are the entrepreneurial type, you could be running your own business in no time. A number of contractors I’ve met started out as technicians. These ambitious folks are now running their own companies, which are bringing in $25 million or $50 million a year.

Now, be careful — turning a wrench does not necessarily mean you know how to turn a profit. But, many associations are available to teach you those skills. Organizations like ACCA, Service Roundtable, and Nexstar have more than enough educational materials to get you up to speed on running a small or not-so-small business. You will certainly get what you put into this industry.

So, before you make your final decision, give it some thought. You might get some pushback from your parents, but not if you give them the reasoning behind your decision. So, where do you go from here? Go check out the HVACR Workforce Development Foundation at for more information. Again, congratulations on earning your diploma, and best of luck in your future endeavors.

Publication date: 6/20/2016 

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