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HVAC Careers: Why Become a NYC AC Technician?

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Love technology? Consider HVAC careers

It used to be that people got into HVAC careers because they had a father, brother, cousin or friend in the business. That’s because people in the business understand that HVAC is a challenging, recession-proof and lucrative career choice.

On the other hand, people without firsthand knowledge about HVAC careers tend to misunderstand the job and look at it as a fallback for people without the desire or ability to go to college. Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth. HVAC careers are perfect for smart, motivated individuals who love to dig into technology and stay on top of the latest advancements.

If that sounds like you, then read on to learn more about a career as a NYC AC technician.

What’s great about a career as a NYC AC technician

A career as an AC technician offers stable, year-round work, job advancement, responsibility and the opportunity to keep building new skills and work at a variety of job sites. Not to mention excellent pay and great benefits.

It’s a stable career because, even as the economy waxes and wanes, people will always need heating and air conditioning. The work is interesting and varied because it requires an understanding of all the trades: plumbing, carpentry, and electrical, as well as advanced electronics. Technical skills are increasingly required to succeed in this industry; a NYC AC technician used to carry a tool bag and today they also carry laptops. This is a career that provides daily opportunities to work closely with the latest in temperature and humidity control technology, building monitoring systems, and even energy conservation science with LEED certified buildings.

Are you a good fit?

Here’s one of the misconceptions about HVAC careers: they are for people who are “good with their hands.” Today, that’s no longer enough to make someone well suited for a career as an AC technician.

The way I see it, the most important qualities you can have are a strong work ethic and the motivation to keep learning. In this business, if you can’t keep up with technology, your skills become outdated very quickly. The job requires a continuous attention to training. People who pay attention and ask questions about what they don’t know tend to do well in HVAC careers.

At Arista, we are always looking for innovative thinkers who can troubleshoot complex problems in the field. Interpersonal skills are also needed to effectively communicate with peers, customers and supervisors. Finally, a customer service mindset is essential for an AC technician: you need to demonstrate trustworthiness, a helpful attitude and a high level of responsibility.

What a NYC AC technician can earn

A helper, who is an assistant working with a more experienced technician, can expect to start at about $12 per hour in the NYC area. Within 5 years, that rate can grow to over $30 per hour, and a journeyman (a full scale technician) makes near $40 an hour. And it’s no secret that union benefits packages are often much better than most business people receive. With overtime, many techs at Arista easily make $80,000 per year, and we have a large group making over $100,000 per year.

HVAC careers: the industry outlook

The future of the HVAC service industry is very promising. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this occupation will grow faster than the average, with an estimated 34% increase in jobs over the coming decade. We expect significant job growth in HVAC careers.

One reason for that is simple supply and demand. Over the next 10 years, about half of the current field work force is expected to retire. People entering the field now can expect many opportunities for work and for advancement as skilled technicians will be in high demand.

Advancement opportunities

A new technician starts out as a helper, working alongside more senior technicians on service appointments. As they learn, they take on more responsibility. Most become qualified to work unassisted (often with their own truck) within their third year. As they gain knowledge and experience, some may become specialists in a particular technology (such as VRF systems) or task (such as performing installations). Others who excel at teaching may take on mentoring new recruits.

HVAC careers are varied, and there are always new things to learn and paths you can take. An AC technician can become a supervisor or service manager. Others may move into project management, dispatch, estimating, engineering or system design.

Options for getting started with HVAC careers

Most people get into HVAC careers by attending a technical school or an engineering college. A NYC AC technician most often begins at a technical school. While it’s not absolutely essential (some employers will hire and train people on the job) there are important reasons to start with classroom education:

  • Technical school teaches the language of the industry, so when you start on a job you’re able to understand what experienced technicians say and do and learn from them.
  • Students learn the theory behind HVAC technology and pick up knowledge faster on the job.
  • Graduates get the necessary certifications from the EPA and industry organizations. Here in NYC, having these certifications is important for working in the business, since there is no state licensing for an HVAC technician.
  • The time invested in education pays off with better career opportunities and higher pay.
  • The best companies to work for often recruit candidates through the technical schools.

The next step is to find an employer who invests in your continuing education by providing ongoing training.

One final tip: keep in mind that the best HVAC companies may not even advertise job openings. They are constantly looking for the best job candidates through networking. So get connected, and do your homework to find a great employer that will invest in you to give you the best chance for success.

Read these related blogs to find out more about the job:
9 Skills Sherlock Holmes & a Great NY HVAC Service Tech Share
Extreme HVAC Service in NYC: Do You Have What It Takes?

Feel free to reach out to me at any time to learn more about HVAC careers in general and specifically working as a NYC AC technician.