Some of the sub-sectors that offer career opportunities include engineering, maintenance after installation, education, research, and sales. Regulated nationally by organizations such as ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), ACCA (Air-Conditioning Contractors of America), and SMACNA (Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors National Association), those wishing to earn their livings in this field are generally required to become certified in at least one of the many available divisions.
HVAC is considered to be one of the few fields that can withstand difficult economic times and that has an employment outlook which is considered at least consistent. Outside influences also exist that can attribute to spikes in these otherwise-consistent outlooks such as wide-ranging hurricane damages and other weather-related catastrophes. Parameters surrounding this field of work include the sale of parts and accessories, such as HVAC filters, belts, and other maintenance-related items.
According to a Global Foresight report on future trends, the field of HVAC is undergoing a period of unprecedented change. These changes are directly attributed to technological advances and new innovations, including issues related to recycling and new home construction. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, projections show a fast-growing field of new employment through 2014, despite the lowered numbers in new home construction. In short, HVAC’s continued demand for new technicians isn’t dependent on one sector in the economy.
As of 2006, there were 270,000 jobs in America with an average hourly-earning of $17.43. Those with more certifications can expect to earn more, while those entering the job market as interns or trainees can expect to earn less. Repair services and environmental positions, i.e. those capable of recycling dated units, are expected to grow faster within this field. Increased regulations, which are slated to go into effect January 1, 2010, provide incentives for those willing to replace older units with the newer and more energy-efficient models. This will contribute to a spike in available positions in installation fields. Further, laws are being written that will require newer models in certain circumstances, while most will simply be encouraged to replace older units.
Air-quality issues are part of the driving force behind these new designs. Allergies and other airborne illnesses are the sixth leading cause of chronic diseases and are responsible for $18 billion of healthcare expenses in America alone. This is an annual figure, with predicted rises in both money and reported illnesses. Clearly, the incentives for updating older HVAC units are legitimate and numerous, not to mention beneficial to both the home or business owner and the environment.
Other trends in this field include recycling efforts. Because of the high metal content, including copper, steel, and aluminum, nearly 95 percent of older units are recyclable. Engineers are scrambling to design more eco-friendly units while recyclers struggle to keep pace with the high number of discarded units. Despite the recyclability of these units, there are remnants that aren’t recyclable and are therefore discarded into landfills.
Other environmental trends include the challenging efforts of developing zero-energy use facilities. Although in its infancy, many say we will see corporations in our lifetimes that will use no more energy than what it’s capable of producing, resulting in a net zero-usage.
One exciting prospect that many are pursuing is the units that don’t require on-site servicing. Instruments are being developed that will relay information regarding pressures, refrigerant compositions and other telling information that can be completed offsite, fed into a computer, and printed for repairmen to arm themselves with what’s needed for a repair before they ever arrive. New buildings might incorporate wall sensors that can ascertain and return information to a super-computer that will tell of potential problems, rooms that are losing energy due to energy escapes, and a wealth of other information, all designed to educate the home or building owner where he might be losing money.
Clearly, these new advances, coupled with traditional tried-and-true methods of heating and cooling homes and other dwellings, not only continue, but also expand with new technologies and energy-efficient designs. The job market maintains excellent growth with forecasts of continued expansions for those wishing to pursue this fast-paced and changing field as a way to earn a living. As mentioned earlier, there are certifications required for many of the positions and information can be found at any of the regulator sites that oversee this industry, including the sites of ACCA, AMCA, SMACN and ASHRAE.
Indeed, this is one industry that appears to be recession proof, even as news reports tell of an impending recession this country is bound for. If you’re looking for a light at the end of the tunnel and are seeking a new career avenue in these uncertain times, this might be the ideal choice.