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How to Earn More in Your HVAC Career

How to Earn More in Your HVAC Career

Posted by Matt Krak

June 18, 2021

3 HVAC Techs talking to each other, while holding their phones. Black and white

The best feeling in the world is getting paid to do what you love. That feeling is even better when you know you have a solid path laid out for raising your income over time. Within the HVAC field, many technicians will openly share their story and method about how to grow your career in the service industry. With so many success stories, determining your future road map may seem a bit ambiguous, so we’ve decided to break down what all profitable service providers have in common.

Adapt to changes

The HVAC industry has a bright and exciting future ahead. Technology is changing the name of the game and increasing the number of skills that technicians need to know. With more and more consumers choosing to link their A/C and heating systems to smart devices like Amazon’s Alexa, having a solid understanding of these emerging technologies will set you up for success as the market continues to adapt. We’ve gone ahead and broken down 5 New HVAC Technology & Innovations Changing the Industry as of 2020, but be sure to keep up with any news on innovative HVAC solutions! Having insight on where the market is heading will give you a leg up over other techs who are unprepared to handle these evolving systems. By taking the time to educate yourself about these new topics, you’re almost guaranteed to see an increase in pay.

Education impacts earnings

As you’ve probably guessed, education has the most direct impact on your earnings. Researchers at Connecteam surveyed hundreds of HVAC workers to compile the Complete HVAC-R Industry Salary survey, here's the summary of their results:

1. “The most significant factor in achieving higher pay is education.”

  • When looking at the data, your education level in HVAC sets you apart from the competition in a major way. Techs who had an undergraduate degree in HVAC on average made 32% more than their counterparts with just a regular EPA Section 608 certification. 51% of all HVAC techs have a high school diploma or less, so pursuing anything beyond that will give you an immediate advantage over half the industry.

  • Even if you can’t afford to spend four years on an undergraduate degree, national data from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce still finds that techs with some level of trade schooling will earn $200,000 more over the course of their career than those with just basic certifications.

2. “Just having a Section 608 is not enough.”

  • While an EPA Section 608 certification is by far the most common certification, by itself it won’t set you up to earn more than your peers. Without any other form of certification, your wage will likely be below the industry median of $55,000 a year.

  • There are plenty of other certifications that can boost your wage by an even higher margin. Having a Commercial A/C Cert. bumps your salary up 20% over the industry median and 30% over those with just a Section 608. Keep in mind that most techs who have this certification spent on average 18 years in the industry, so be prepared to spend some time working before acquiring it.

3. “Experience matters.”

  • Don’t expect to suddenly be handed the top level jobs straight out of school. When looking at the numbers, most HVAC techs with the highest earnings have spent 11-15 years in the industry honing their skills. It's important to note, however, that your level of education will also help lower the number of years you have to spend in the field before making that level of income reality.

The important takeaway is that your education is an investment into your future, but it doesn’t have to be the only path you take to success. Plenty of techs have managed to build successful careers without an undergraduate degree, so consider the opportunities that make the most sense to you. Even if you don’t have the resources to launch a reeducation path, remember that there are other places where you can grow your skill set.

Utilize HVAC communities

Plenty of professionals in the HVAC industry have been in your shoes before, and oftentimes you can find resources available online to help strengthen your knowledge.

If you spend time acquainting yourself with online community pages, you’ll often be able to find a network of other technicians who will be willing to answer any questions you have. Multiple social media groups exist specifically to provide help for HVAC students, technicians, and business owners. If you’re looking for alternative or unconventional ways to grow your experience, these individuals will be happy to help.

Accelerating your achievement

At the end of the day, there’s no one size fits all approach to becoming successful in your HVAC career. The technicians who make it spend time and energy developing routines and habits that best fit their busy schedules. Finding the right mix of professional experience, educational opportunity, and community involvement will depend largely on your own personal preferences. With that being said, your motivation and drive to succeed will be two of the most important points to accomplishing your goals. Whether you want to raise your salary or own your own HVAC company, allocating time to develop yourself as a professional will pay off.