The Role of HVAC Contractors

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Maintaining our homes and businesses includes a need for stable temperatures as well as an assurance that we're breathing clean air. This is where a licensed HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air–conditioning) contractor comes in. The first, most important consideration when looking for a reputable contractor is whether he is licensed. In fact, most states require heating and air conditioning contractors be licensed with an annual renewal stipulation (often, this requires a four–hour, continuing–education class).

Still, licensed doesn’t always equate with reputable. The most reliable way to determine if your chosen contractor is honorable and commitment-oriented is to ask around. Ask neighbors, coworkers, and family members if they’ve used the services of his company before, and, if so, with what results? Check with your local chamber of commerce, as well as your state’s Better Business Bureau for further information regarding any complaints that have been filed. You will also be able to discern other activities that might not influence the quality of work you receive, but might help you determine the character of the person you’ll be inviting into your home to service your air conditioners or heaters, such as DUI (driving under the influence) arrests and other less-than-ideal character flaws.

But what if you’re considering the field of HVAC as a career option? You might be surprised at the potential this field offers. Peripheral fields include HVAC design, which is typically done by engineers, drafters, and other technicians. Another lucrative area is HVAC repair. Repair technicians remain in high demand and require licensing, background investigations (usually conducted by the state you’re operating in), and usually continuing-education courses for recertification purposes. Still, those who’ve created a successful business agree it’s both rewarding and financially beneficial. You have the option of providing your services as an independent contractor or as part of a team of contractors employed with local companies or even national companies that operate in most states.

Generally, most contractors specialize in one area of the wide range of HVAC practices, including:
  • Repairs - HVAC contractors usually choose to provide repair services exclusively, since the demand is so high. They typically refrain from new installations due to the frequent shortage of qualified personnel. Many don’t pursue installation specialties, because it prevents them from branching out into other areas.

  • Engineering/Design - Usually, those choosing this avenue are more detail oriented and prefer the setting inside an office. Again, the demand is high for qualified designers, and the job market is considered excellent for both CAD (computer-aided design) operators and degreed engineers.

  • Service Technicians - Similar to HVAC repairman, service techs often ensure belts and other accessories are installed properly, while usually refraining from attempting major repairs. Still, those technicians who pursue certification in their home states are qualified to work as contractors.

  • Sales - This is another fast-moving aspect, since designers and engineers continue to design newer, more energy-efficient and environmentally safe units. HVAC sales teams stand to earn salaries which are often comparable to CADs’ salaries.

  • Upper Management - In larger corporations, qualified HVAC contractors and engineers can bring to the table the unique position of what goes on in the field. Because of this knowledge, promotions are likely to continue using this methodology.
Other statistics paint a promising picture. Employment outlooks predict a faster-than-average growth in this field, and some say a 36 percent increase is realistic through 2010. It should be noted, these increases represent all fields: contractors, support positions, engineers, and repair personnel. Interestingly, there is no region of the country that’s anticipating a decline in the demand. Usually trends can be seen in some career choices, based on which area of the country they thrive in. This rare instance provides an even greater confidence for those choosing HVAC design or repair. Despite new home construction declines, new ideas are being sought for safer designs; additionally, those designs are incorporating eco-friendly considerations as well as a focus on health, as newer filter and unit designs keep allergies and airborne problems at a minimum.

One final thought: many of America’s largest shipbuilders are reporting renewed commitments to their heating and air designs and, as such, are beginning to increase those departments that contribute to more compact designs that are energy-conscience for inclusion on some of our country’s largest naval ships. A recent check with personnel at Northrop Grumman in Pascagoula revealed the potential for three new positions in early 2009.

As this career option continues its growth due to renewed commitments for better designs, HVAC contractors will most likely enjoy a healthy growth in their businesses. If you’re considering this, speak with some of the successful business owners in your local area. There’s no better advice than from those who are successfully living their dreams. You’re sure to get a realistic idea of expectations, to hear stories of how they create solutions, and to be taught true lessons they learned from their own careers. The information is out there; it comes down to how committed you are to your own choices.
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