HVAC technician career paths

HVAC technicians typically start our in entry-level positions, like apprentices, before advancing to mid-level positions, like service technicians.

HVAC technician career snapshot

Median pay

$50,590 ($24.32/hr)

Required degrees


10-year job growth

5% (Average)

Common HVAC career paths

There are many different job opportunities in the HVAC industry. If you decide to become an HVAC technician, you will have many career paths and positions to choose from.

Entry-level positions

Entry-level HVAC workers include apprentices, employees with no HVAC certifications, and people who just finished schooling like community college or trade school.

Here are some entry-level HVAC positions:

  • HVAC Apprentice
  • HVAC Helper
  • Warehouse Associate
  • Residential Trainee/Installer
  • Commercial Trainee/Installer
  • Maintenance Technician

Mid-level positions

Mid-level HVAC workers typically have 3-6 years of experience in the HVAC industry and have a few HVAC certifications.

Here are some mid-level HVAC positions:

  • Residential Service Technician
  • Commercial Service Technician
  • Facilities Maintenance Technician
  • Customer Sales Representative and Estimator
  • Sales & Marketing Associate
  • Building Automation Systems Trainee
  • Test and Balance Technician

Senior-level positions

Senior-level HVAC workers typically have 7+ years of experience in the HVAC industry and have many HVAC certifications. Some may go on to be HVAC contractors working for themselves.

Here are some senior-level HVAC positions:

  • Residential Contractor
  • Residential Service Manager
  • Commercial Contractor
  • Commercial Service Manager
  • Facilities Manager
  • Equipment Manufacturer Representative
  • Building Automation Systems Engineer
  • HVAC Instructor
  • Code Inspector
  • Project Manager

Gaining enough experience will open the door for an HVAC technician to start their own company. The necessary experience will vary by person, but someone would generally need 10+ years of experience before starting their own company. This gives them time to learn the ins and outs of not only the HVAC side of a company but also the business side.

There are many different types of HVAC companies, and each individual has the option to choose which type best fits their strengths. Some of the different types of companies include servicing HVAC systems, installing HVAC systems, training new HVAC technicians, HVAC sales, and estimators.

There are many benefits to starting your own company. Some of these benefits are being your own boss, income, the ability to control your own destiny, choosing the people you work with, and much more.

>> Read More: What Do HVAC Technicians Do?

What makes HVAC a good career path?

Some of the things that make HVAC a good career path include competitive pay, the availability of HVAC jobs pretty much everywhere, no college degree is required, and more.

Let’s take a look at some of the best parts of choosing HVAC for your career:

1. Competitive pay & great job outlook

The HVAC industry generally offers great pay along with plenty of job opportunities. The field is constantly growing with the country’s push towards newer and greener infrastructure and generally has a good job outlook.

In the United States, the average salary for an HVAC technician is $24.32 per hour which comes out to around $50,590 per year.

Of course, there is a range of salaries that an HVAC technician can earn, and the actual number for any individual depends on a variety of factors including location and experience. Technicians with less than one year of experience tend to earn around $22.47 per hour, while technicians with over 10 years of experience earn an average of $32.83 per hour.

2. HVAC jobs are everywhere

One of the best things about working in the HVAC industry is the ability to find a job anywhere that you want. Almost every building in the country has at least one HVAC system, creating a demand for HVAC technicians everywhere that has any buildings (which is almost everywhere).

If you ever decide to move in the future, you can rest assured knowing that job opportunities won’t limit your options for where to re-plant your roots.

3. No need to go to college

No college degree is required to work as an HVAC technician. This means no hefty student debt bills! It also means that instead of spending your time and money in college, you can be using that time to earn money and gain valuable, hands-on experience.

4. Job is always changing

As an HVAC technician, one day to the next is never exactly the same. Every project is different and has its own intricacies, giving HVAC technicians the opportunity to learn new and valuable skills throughout their entire careers.

Not only does this keep you on your toes and keep things interesting, but it also makes you increasingly qualified and marketable as your career progresses. You can read more about HVAC technicians' work environment here.

5. Get paid while you learn

Joining a company as an apprentice allows you to learn the trade and gain useful experience while, at the same time, getting paid.

This is one of the best things about working in the HVAC industry because instead of wasting time or money in college, you can make money while learning, giving you a head start in life on things like saving to buy a house or vehicle.

6. Positive impact on the environment

Working in the HVAC industry gives you the opportunity to be a part of the nation’s push towards cleaner and more efficient infrastructure.

This gives you the ability to not only help yourself in the short term but the opportunity to help your kids and their kids by beginning the process of improving the environment in the United States and around the world.

Reasons to avoid HVAC as a career path

Despite the many benefits of an HVAC career, there are also some downsides to consider before you jump in. Let’s take a look:

1. Physically demanding

Being an HVAC technician is a physically demanding job that may leave you exhausted multiple days a week.

This is one of the side effects of choosing a career path that requires hands-on work most of the day. If you are someone who does not enjoy physically demanding work, HVAC may not be the career for you.

2. Long hours during busy season

Another con to choosing HVAC as a career path is the possibility of working long hours during the busy season.

The summer is usually the busiest season for HVAC technicians. This means, depending on where you live, that you might be required to work long hours in the scorching heat of the summer.

3. Safety hazards

Working in the HVAC industry means that you can expect to work around plenty of safety hazards.

Some of these hazards may include working with high voltage equipment and hazardous refrigerants, as well as working at heights. While there are many safety protocols designed to prevent injury and death, no safety protocol is 100% effective.

While being an HVAC technician isn’t generally considered a dangerous job, there are more risks than your run-of-the-mill desk job.

4. Takes time to learn

While one of the main benefits of working in the HVAC industry is the ability to be paid while you learn, you can still expect to spend a lot of time learning the trade while you are being paid a lower wage than you would like.

Unfortunately, most companies cannot afford to pay you the full salary of an HVAC technician while they are also spending time, money, and resources training you. Know that it will take some time to reach the average HVAC technician salaries we mention on this page.