Currently, all the skilled trades are facing a serious talent shortage in the workforce. It’s only expected to get worse before it gets better—for every three skilled tradespeople retiring between now and 2030, only one is currently projected to be available to take their place.
What is driving this serious disconnect between young people entering the workforce, and the high-paying, rewarding jobs in HVAC, plumbing, electrical services, and other skilled trades? The answers can be complicated, including:
- Misconceptions about the opportunities in skilled trades
- Stigma of manual labor in the digital age
- Many field service companies are legacy businesses in a family
Some argue that these trends started with the elimination of requirements like shop class from high school, and the stigma that attending vocational study during high school is for kids who can’t keep up in regular classes. We can also point to the now-ubiquitous saying “love what you’ll do and you’ll never work a day in your life,” driving young people to think that jobs where they know they will experience a hard day’s labor aren’t desirable.
But the truth is, tradespeople do love what they do—which is hard, rewarding work that pays well. The challenge of getting Millennials, Gen Z, and whoever comes after them to choose field services careers and other skilled trades starts with addressing deep cultural biases against the trades. And the time is critical, because without these trained professionals, the buildings and infrastructure that sustain our way of life might just fall down around our ears.
Is HVAC a Good Career in 2021?
HVAC is a great career to start in 2021, not just from a benefits and job security perspective, but also because of its potential for cultural and environmental impact. These jobs are projected to grow as fast as any other industry, increasing by 4% by 2029. How much do HVAC techs make starting out? The average annual pay for HVAC positions is $50,590, slightly higher than the 2019 average national salary of $47,232. Plus, many skilled trade professionals in major cities report they are making six figures due to high demand for skills that are in shortage.
HVAC is also an industry poised to experience a technological revolution that helps humanity cope with the impacts of climate change. Currently, as much as 50% of the average home’s energy consumption comes from heating and cooling. As we devise ways to lower our environmental impact, young technicians who are trained to install and maintain the latest air conditioners, heaters, thermostats, and other innovations will be in even greater demand. This is true of both residential and commercial HVAC. Becoming an HVAC tradesperson isn’t just a career move that will guarantee job security today, but for decades to come.
Still, let’s review some of the pros and cons of an HVAC career.
HVAC Career Pros and Cons
HVAC career pros include:
- High salary and job security
- Ability to live and work anywhere
- Paid training on the job
- Make a tangible difference in the lives of others
HVAC career cons include:
- Potential long hours when complicated issues arise
- Occupational hazards with heavy equipment and machinery
The long hours and occupational hazards of HVAC may even be contributors to some of the bias against skilled trades we talked about earlier. However, many industries today that are more in-vogue, like coding, marketing, and healthcare, also demand long hours and come with their own hazards. From a sedentary lifestyle in front of a computer to the risks of stress and overwork, there is no job that is great for our health. At least with HVAC, technicians face a clear set of challenges they are equipped to solve through opportunities for new certifications, working with veteran technicians, and the support of their employer.
Are HVAC Techs in High Demand?
The demand for HVAC technicians specifically was projected to increase 21% between 2012 and 2022. As the industry continues to incorporate smart devices, the Internet of Things, and other advancements, demand for HVAC techs who understand new technology is only going to grow. You might wonder who these technicians work for. Let’s review the many types of employers an HVAC technician might work for.
Who Hires HVAC Technicians?
- HVAC manufacturers who want to train technicians to install their proprietary products.
- Local and national field service providers who maintain a team of technicians to serve customers.
- Businesses who own real estate and want a dedicated technician who knows their needs.
Future-Proof Solutions to Recruit Skilled HVAC Technicians
It’s essential for HVAC employers, manufacturers, and current technicians to take on the bias against entering this industry. With more young people than ever seeking great jobs that don’t require an expensive four-year college degree, the tipping point to solve the skilled trades talent gap could be close at hand. But employers must also position their business to be attractive to the talent that is entering the industry. This means examining everything from pay and benefits, to company culture, to the HVAC business management technology employees use to get jobs done.
Circle City Software Solutions created our Field Services Hiring Scorecard to help HVAC businesses evaluate their competitiveness in the current hiring environment and brainstorm ideas about how to pivot to attract new talent. Download today to see how your company stacks up!