The U.S. heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, or HVAC, industry is seeing a growing need for service technicians and installers. Unprecedented changes brought about by technological innovation in building design and energy, as well as a growing demand for skilled workers, mean those who want to work in the industry need certification in their field and hands-on experience prior to securing a job in the industry.
Ken Taylor is president of Air Depot of Cypress Texas, a family owned air conditioning and heating company specializing in repair and replacement. Taylor said the Air Conditioning and Heating industry is unquestionable growing and finding practiced and experienced technicians is becoming increasingly difficult. “The need for technicians is going to outstrip the supply,” Taylor said.
“If someone was to choose, say, the air conditioning industry for employment, they’d have real long-term security. There’s going to be a greater demand for those kinds of people than there are technicians to fill the spots.”
Taylor attributes the shortage of capable technicians to the decline of vocational training at the high school level. “There used to be lots of high school vocational training for air conditioning, mechanical work, wood work and automotive work, but that seems to be declining through the years,” Taylor said. ” (High) schools are prepping kids more for college, so many people have to get out of high school and pursue the vocation on their own before they’re able to become viable candidates to companies like ours.”
Many area colleges and technical schools offer certifications. Houston Community College offers an 18-week-fast-track course, during which students study the components, applications and installation of mechanical air-conditioning systems.
The college’s certification coursework is made up of four series: Refrigeration Principles, Recovery Certification, Basic Electricity for HVAC and A/C Control Principles. The coursework provides training that covers the principles and practices of HVAC maintenance, repair, hazard and safety practices
Because today’s systems are increasingly complex, employers generally prefer applicants with technical training or those who have completed a formal apprenticeship. “Normally, just like a lot of industries, we’re looking for experience,” Taylor said. “There’s a learning curve for developing the necessary skills, language and talents needed to be able to do the job.” Taylor said many employers take advantage of learning opportunities that product manufacturers offer, such as instructional courses for specific pieces of equipment.
Some employers will send their technicians and installers to local colleges for professional development and continued education. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of mechanics and installers is projected to grow faster than average, and the field is projected tp be am excellent source of employment through 2014.
The projected rate of change in employment for mechanics and installers between 2010 and 2020 is 34 percent, which is faster than normal. The average growth rate for all occupations is 14 percent. This rising demand for trained mechanics and installers will result in excellent employment opportunities.